Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Incompetence without a conscience: the Coalition - one year on

It has been one year since the Tories and the Lib Dems thrashed out a 'coalition agreement' with each other, both of them so desperate for power that they would ignore the swathes of Lib Dem votes that had been accrued from people just as desperate to keep the Tories out of power. Most of those people had witnessed the Thatcher years and would do anything within the law to make sure their kids never had to go through that experience. A large amount of Lib Dem votes was gleaned from students hoping for no increase in tuition fees, as pledged by Lib Dem MPs up and down the land. How hundreds of thousands of people would live to regret that vote.

So what have the Lib Dems achieved while they've been under Cameron's over-sized, steel toe-capped jackboot? A replacement for Trident in this parliament, cutting inheritance tax for the wealthiest, re-negotiating fundamental elements of the EU's Lisbon treaty, building more prisons and replacing the Human Rights Act. No, but what have they achieved? In terms of the everyday lives of everyday people - alarm clock Britain, as Clegg calls them. Well, he's come up with a new term for them - alarm clock Britain. That's a start. And it's more marketable than 'mugs'.

By all accounts (Clegg's at least), the Lib Dems have been "punching above their weight" in terms of their contribution to the coalition's policy agenda. They're particularly proud of their support for pensioners, the low paid, nursery education and apprenticeships but they reckon they must "do a better job" of trumpeting their achievements. So, despite the arrangement with the Tories being "stable and durable", it is more a coalition of "necessity not conviction".  Apparently, the two parties are going to show their separate identities more overtly in future - the Lib Dems, for their part, are going to be more "muscular" in government [oh, how we laughed] and their influence will be more "visible", no mean feat when you're ignored more often than Fred Miliband.

Nick Clegg would even go on to say: "There is a reason neither of the two bigger parties won last May - neither of them were really trusted to deliver both a strong, dynamic economy and a fair society. We can be trusted on both counts. I am confident that showing we can combine economic soundness with social justice - competence with a conscience - will make us an even more formidable political force in the future."

I bet Fred's quaking in his slippers.