Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Broadsheet: A coalition is right for the next general election

Labour needs to go. The Conservative Party is the natural party of government. However a Conservative-LibDem coalition is the best outcome for the next election.

It is clear we are reaching the end of the Labour Party's time in office. Its failures have included: the mishandling of bank regulation; costly, unnecessary wars; an over-complicated tax regime; wasteful spending on public services; and rules on MP's expenses that have brought Parliament into disrepute.

The rank-and-file of the Conservative Party knows what needs to be done: the reintroduction of calm, sensible administration rather than frantic law-making, overweening bureaucracy and throwing other people's money at problems.

Yet David Cameron seems to be continuing the spinning and posturing of the Blair years. He delights in wrong-footing Gordon Brown, but does not seem to be able to lead. One of Cameron's closest advisors, his PR chief, left the News of the World after some very sleazy practices. Cameron's prospective Chancellor is a gaffe-prone lightweight. Cameron's highly-paid policy guru obsesses about "style" and "the brand" rather than actual policy. This spin works wonders: Cameron somehow came out well from the MP's expenses scandal, despite the unacceptable expense claims of his most senior parliamentary advisor and Cameron's own questionable expense claims.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Liberal Democrats offer an attractive alternative to Labour. They have been proposing for some time the measures that are now accepted as necessary to clean up British politics. None of their MP's have been "flipping" state-funded second home mortgages. They have, in Vince Cable, the most widely respected candidate for Chancellor. They are instinctively opposed to ill-thought-out foreign escapades and big government. They are also the party most likely to be able to get Europe doing something useful for a change: saving the country from the damaging effects of climate change by obtaining global agreements on carbon emissions.

Of course the Liberal Democrats won't win the General Election. But that doesn't matter: a Conservative-LibDem coalition would combine the strengths of the conservative majority file with the sensible liberal approach that the country needs right now, while mitigating the worst excesses of Cameron's spin machine.