Monday, October 11, 2010

Coalition and the real alternative


Critical indeed fanatical opponents of the coalition implicitly compare it with their imagined ideal of government, usually some mythical version of Labour government which never existed. In the real world the choice was between the coalition and a Tory minority government followed by a general election and a majority Tory government. I put this to choice to a Labour supporter and virulent critic of the coalition and she replied she would have preferred the Tory minority government and the risk of their subsequent majority.

Paul Walters has drawn attention to one of the small but important effects of having a coalition - Nick Clegg's influence on the child benefit decision. It's an example of the Liberal Democrats' power to stop or mitigate bad things. We also need to be able to promote good ones.

3 comments:

Hoonaloon Books said...

I don`t know what `critics` you have in mind, but I wonder if you`ve been attending too many conferences !

In my view, a lot of the antipathy among the public has been stirred up by the Coaition`s use of confrontational language - Dr Fox`s advocacy of "remorseless" cuts is an obvious case in point.

That may just seem to be politician`s rhetoric to some, but in areas of the Midlands and the North, that sort of thing sent shock waves through some communities. Obviously, our lords and masters have realised that, given the less strident approach taken during the Tory conference.

There is another point though. My wife and I are self-employed and when public confidence in the economy is low, we notice straight away. In the run-up to the emergency budget, sales dropped alarmingly, as the Chancellor set about spreading doom and gloom. After the budget, things went back to normal, but when the Conservative Conference rolled up, fell again. Things are back to normal now, but it illustrates how little the Coalition understand the world the rest of us live in.

Some aspects of the Coalition are quite positive, though not all of that is down to the Lib Dem influence, but they need to live in the real world.

David said...

I take your point about the effect of politicians' rhetoric on business. I suspect there have been two other factors. First, they wanted to send a message to steady the financial markets. It's a sad fact that this always seems to have more weight with governments than the effects on the real business world. Secondly, I do wonder if the gloom is being spun so that the actual cuts on 20th October won't appear so bad. We'll know soon.

Hoonaloon Books said...

We will indeed.

"When politicians demand the public do something because of the dictates of financial markets, it`s best to hang on to your wallet !" - American economist Dean Baker.