Politics like life involves compromises

I must admit I never expected a coalition, but at the end of the day it is probably the least worst alternative.

We could not have done nothing. There is a country to be run.

Supporting a Conservative minority government would have been possible but it would have been fragile, most Liberal Democrat policies would not have been enacted and there was the consdierable risk of another election within 12 months.

A coalition with Labour would have been ideal for many supporters but was never practical due to the parliamentary numbers and lack of support from the Labour party itself. A coalition with the Conservatives, although difficult should lead to many Liberal Democrat policies introduced (such as the £10k income tax threshold) and Conservative policies curbed (marriage tax allowance and inheritance tax threshold increase). All the details have still to be announced but this is what coalition government gives you compromise, hopefully of the important and best things for the country.

It’s also why voting for what you want, can make a difference. Although the electoral system is still against the Liberal Democrats, we can point to the 23% of people who voted for our policies when we were negotiating with the Conservatives, it gave us weight to get what our supporters wanted.

I don’t know what the road ahead will be like but at the very least we can say Liberal Democrat policies will have been delivered, we have experience of government and that coalition government can work (hopefully…).

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A Budget Bore for All

Yesterday’s Budget from Labour was another non-event, it offered a little bit for businesses and first time buyers but was effectively an hour long political speech

What is lacking from both the Labour and Conservative Party is how the huge deficit would be cut. Lots of rhetoric and wait until after the election, but it’s not being very straight with the electorate who are expecting some kind of action.

The Liberal Democrats have identified £15bn of cuts already, which doesn’t go all the way, but shows we at least have a plan and we’re telling the electorate up front. This will come from ending government contributions to Child Trust Funds to removing the top 20% of claimants from the tax credit system, cancelling the ID card programme, no like for like Trident replacement and abolishing the Government Offices for the Regions.

The other notable absence in the Budget was any plans to deal with the banks, which are fundamentally still operating in the same environment as pre-credit crunch. The Liberal Democrats would split every day retail banking from casino investment banking and protect the voters savings and investments. Yes retail banking will be very boring, low margins and pretty risk averse, but it’s important that people can trust where they put their hard earned money.

In an IPSOS MORI poll Vince Cable was seen as the most capable Chancellor of the Exchequer, followed a long way back by Alastair Darling and George Osborne bringing up the rear. You can decide for yourself if you watch Channel 4s “Ask the Chancellors” Monday 29 March 8pm

“It’s the economy, stupid”

In continued recognition of Liberal Democrat’s economic competence, The Financial Times and Economist in the last few days has criticised both Conservative and Labour’s honesty and openness on the necessary actions to control the budget deficit whilst commending our plans and approach.

George Osborne get’s a particularly strong attack from the Economist

“One explicit difference between Mr Brown’s plans and Mr Cameron’s is that the latter wants to start cutting this year, despite the risk of stalling the crawl out of recession. In that, he is probably mistaken, just as he was wrong to oppose Mr Brown’s fiscal stimulus. In both cases, the Tories may have subordinated sensible economic thinking to political positioning.”

The Liberal Democrats have been explicit in some of the actions necessary to cut the deficit identifying areas like Trident, ID cards, scrapping child trust funds and a 10% tax on banks profits. However, unlike the Conservatives, the cuts will be made at the right time when the recovery is clearly happening, rather than straight away and derail the recovery.

As I’ve said in the first Focus of 2010, do we want Vince Cable, with experience in industry and a PhD in Economics to run the economy or George Osborne with his lack of expertise and experience and would be learning his trade at the country’s expense…

When will the General Election be?

Lots of speculation in the press that Labour may call the next General Election for 25th March due to a narrowing of the opinion polls. Personally, although the Pre-Budget Report didn’t say much, I find it hard to believe that Brown would want to miss an opportunity to determine what the economic strategy going forward would be. All parties will need to reveal their strategy in the election anyway.

Also, although the polls are narrowing it still points to a Labour defeat, so seems a strange decision to go for it, when a bit more time could make it a much closer contest. I still think 6 May is the most likely date.

Still awaiting to see who the Conservative candidate for Bromsgrove will be. Will it be Julie Kirkbride?

Update – Daniel Finkelstein, in the Times today, thinks March is just a rumour.

The average local election candidate did 20 hours of campaigning a week!

That’s a lot! Almost half a working week. This is based on research by the Electoral Commission, although it may be skewed by candidates who are retired as they have more time to campaign.

I’ve been reading Conservative Home, to understand the Tory beast, and especially the PPC diaries (Prospective Parliamentary Candidates), and the thing that jumps out is how a lot of their candidates are already working part time or even have no job as they can afford it! They work damn hard though.

It was interesting to contrast it with the Lib Dem PPCs, who sound as though they try to juggle a career with politics. The PPCs I know are all in jobs and juggling their campaigning.

Off to Bromsgrove tomorrow to speak to the locals, do some canvassing and the pub quiz fundraiser.