Nick Clegg has been shown the reins of power, then had the light switched off again and he’s been fobbed off with the biggest non-job in UK politics, the post of Deputy PM.
If the post had meaning then it would never have been given to John Prescott previously.
Plus, Clegg gets to “oversee” electoral reform, something that the majority of Tory MPs and supporters are opposed to and will campaign against as soon as they can. They aren’t even talking about PR anyway, just whether the system might get switched to AV.
The “deal” that seems to be emerging is all about minor concessions to the Lib Dems, with them being given a get-out-of-jail card that says they can abstain on issues that they find too noxious to support. Big Deal.
A lot of the contentious issues seem to be ending up getting shunted off to commissions or committees of inquiry. We all know what happens to things that end up going down that particular Civil Service cul-de-sac.
Europe, the running sore for all Tory leaders, will be a bone of contention again. The agreement seems to say that the UK will not agree to any further powers being transferred to Brussels. Well, sorry, but that is actually meaningless. It is one of the big lies of the Europhobes that we are continually ceding sovereign rights to faceless Eurocrats. The UK is bound by a number of treaties, apart from that, parliament still retains the rights it has always had.
Also, as yet, Cameron shows no signs of ditching the far-right racists, homophobes, nationalists and free-market crazies in his ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists) creation. With Hague as Foreign Secretary, realigning the Tories back into the EPP seems unlikely.
Europe and electoral reform apart, we have pretty much the unadulterated Tory package, wary of the EU, same old pro-marriage and family rhetoric and cuts in benefits and services.
Some of the “highlights” so far are;
* “Accelerated” action to cut the budget deficit: £6bn of spending cuts this year (public sector cuts)
* Measures to promote financial stability and support business growth (i.e. public sector cuts again)
* Next year’s 1% National Insurance tax rise to be partly scrapped (the business side only though!)
* Departmental spending review this autumn
* New ministerial committee to look at “structural” banking reform (those weaselly committees again!)
* New tax on financial transactions, clampdown on “unacceptable” bonuses
* Reduction in child trust funds and child tax credits
They have also said that “The parties commit to establishing an independent commission to review the long term affordability of public sector pensions, while protecting accrued rights.” In other words, in future for public sector workers, pensions will not be as good as they are now.
The coalition is also making it harder to get parliament dissolved. Now, there are various opinions on what this means, but being naturally suspicious, I really do not understand what is wrong with a simple majority.
The Lib Dems will be tied to the Tories for the life of this parliament because they will be too scared of the wrath of their supporters to risk going to the polls.
Clegg may well be on the up personally , but his party risks being slaughtered at the next general election if things don’t go their way over the next few years. It is a massive gamble and one that looks to be a poor bet if the public don’t respond to the government’s programme of slash-and-burn cuts and possible VAT rises.
A lot of the Lib Dem support from this election may well go to a revitalised and refocussed Labour Party if its new leader has the sense to jettison a lot of the New Labour baggage and actually embrace the progressive agenda this country really needs. ID cards, limitations on civil liberties, the DNA database and knee-jerk support for the USA have to go. Those policies cost Labour dear.