Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Hughes Right Sentiment Wrong Solution

I love Simon Hughes dearly but his call today for a 'coalition veto' while the sentiment is grounded in the right place his solution is all wrong.

We are 100 days into a coalition, so we cannot yet say that decisions have been made without consultation. The deal was taken to the Federal Executive and Parliamentarians, with the exception of Charles Kennedy they agreed to it. Even the special conference of party delegates passed it.

However, as far as being able to veto something divisive that the Tories may foist upon the Liberal Democrats yes we should have that. But we shouldn't need a veto to do so. What we do need to address is the so called 'Britvic Clause' the fact that it requires 55% of the Parliament to bring down the Government. This should not be changed it should remain as the simple majority 50% plus one.

That way the senior coalition partner will have to tread carefully with the junior partner. Knowing that if they push things too far they could find their backs up against the wall. There has been coverage that the Tories are getting far more out of the deal than the Lib Dems. The Tories are getting the glory while the Lib Dems are soaking up the blame.

Maybe they are, but if the threat over them no longer having that support and no longer having the ability to push things through more aggressively that agreed, they may have to tread more carefully. The threat of a no confidence motion when they are being particularly divisive may well focus Tory minds on partnership and the fact that this time they are not governing on their own.

It isn't the veto that Simon suggests. Policy will be decided at cabinet level and I trust that if our people in there have misgivings they will voice them and steer the course to a more liberal approach. But if Nick has the option for saying I cannot guarantee our support, in fact I feel we will have to vote against this, then there is the power.

Of course with such power comes responsibility and we entered this coalition in a responsible way to deal with the mess that Labour have gotten us into. So we need to show a degree of responsibility in how we move things forward and not be like these two.

Cartoon from Imageshack


  1. Just before you disagree with Simon. What would be the trigger for an early election in a fixed term Parliament? I think the Scottish Parliament got that one about right.

  2. A failed vote of confidence doesn't necessariliy mean an election for a fixed term parliament. If there is a period in which another party can attempt to form a functioning administration that has the backing of the House things can carry on for the full term.

    Indeed that is also the proviso in Holyrood, and Alex Salmond has threatened dissolution in the budget rounds to eitehr get his own way, or to focus minds across all parties. So while the fixed term is the end goal that all parties should be working towards it doesn't mean there can 'never' be an early dissolution.