The Coalition worked- this doesn’t!

A tale of two Governments

In 2010, after a shock result, Britain found itself Governed by a ConLib coalition. No one gave it much chance of working but it di, The Clegg/Cameron coalition brought considerable benefit to the country and was something of a “golden administration” for pensions.

In 2015 we had another election, this time it gave us a conservative majority (another shock). The markets reacted positively and we looked set fair for five stable years of further recovery from the financial crisis. HOW WRONG COULD WE BE.

The supposed weakness of the coalition was its strength, Nick Clegg and his team kept the conservative party focussing on what mattered – Britain – and away from local feuding.

Since the dissolution of the coalition we have had Britain has seen the most bitter internal division since the War of the Roses (I discount the Civil Was as that was fought on religious grounds). The disintegration of BAU Government over the past three months and the absurd “what do we do now” position we find ourselves in, is a consequence of an unwanted and unloved debate on a subject we know little about and cared less.

As with any war, the people who will be hurt most will be the civilian population and the most vulnerable were (and are) being hit hardest. I am writing to friends in my company who are of Eastern European debate to tell them they are wanted and wanted very much. But a substantial number of the people working in Britain today, will not get such comfort.

The efforts of society to drive out rascism and other forms of intolerance have been set back. It is now politically acceptable to blame the hard working for being hard working and to blame those who have risked much to work in Britain , for being foreign.

The decency of the coalition has been replaced by the new nastiness.

I sensed the change when I went to the Tory party conference last October. The ring of steel was surrounded by angry protestors, inside there was much drinking and self-congratulation but little progressive policy-making. Already the need to help the country had been replaced by a determination to “help yourself”.

As for pensions, instead of the social policy of Steve Webb, we had the “self-empowerment agenda of Harriet Baldwin. The Treasury had walked off with the trophy cabinet and were melting down the hard-won policies of CDC and pot aggregation in favour of dumbed down savings policies that had more do do with re-election than social purpose. The Pension Minister did not make it to Manchester, locked like Rapunzel in her Tower, the key in IDS’ pocket.


Altmann repressed

Can we learn this lesson?

The balancing influence of the Liberals on Conservatism kept the one nation, “all in it together” vision to the fore. Once it had been lost, the Conservatives disintegrated. Now they have no leadership, no vision and no short-term plan to get us out of the mess which their disastrously mis-managed referendum has got us into.

Sadly, rather than acknowledge the role of the Liberal party, the Conservatives decided not just to drop the pilot, but shoot him too. Almost all the great Liberal politicians of the coalition (Cable/Clegg/ Webb et al.) are now no more than commentators, not even commanding a seat in the house.

The ungrateful contempt with which coalition politics has been dismissed by this conservative administration, has no justification. For we can now look back at 2010-15 as a time when politics worked and look at the current Government as an example of how politics does not work.

I am a Liberal and a liberal. I believe in working together, of co-operation. I will support Tim Farron but I will also support this Government in any attempt it makes to reach out to those who it has so harmed and rebuild trust. I will support attempts to reach out to Europe, to Europeans working in Britain and to those who have voted in the referendum who now feel bewildered and betrayed.

Where’s George

George Osborne is lost, he has no credible position. He is the architect of his own downfall and his contemptuous attitude to the people of Britain renders him contemptible. He has only one word that I will listen to. That word is “sorry”. If he can admit he is sorry (as Cameron has) then – as Cameron has been, we can forgive and move on. We may even be able to move on with Osborne in charge of the money (he is competent if not trustworthy).

However, we cannot move on till we have checks on his behaviour. We cannot go back to the situation we have found ourselves in over the past year, where a Conservative Government behaves with such total disregard for the people of the country.

I hope that whatever is left of the Labour party, after they have had their playground fight, will regroup and come to the table. I hope that they will join hands with Tim Farron and the tiny rump of Liberal MPs and then go to Government and offer to help. We need something like a Government of National Unity at this time.

We need something like the coalition we enjoyed until so recently.



I’m afraid so

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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9 Responses to The Coalition worked- this doesn’t!

  1. George Kirrin says:

    Up in Scotland and across in Northern Ireland and Wales they have proportionate representation which tends to result in coalitions, both in government and in opposition.

    Coalition experience there seems to be mixed, but practice makes better.

    Incidentally, Henry, I disagree with your view that Scotland’s ties to the UK were settled in 2014 (by 55-45). The UK that referendum was based upon changed on Friday. The 62-38 in Scotland on remaining in the EU does tend to suggest there may be grounds for reconsidering ways to keep Scotland (like Northern Ireland a “region” of the EU) in the EU, whether in or out of the UK.

    yours aye, George

  2. henry tapper says:

    You Scots want so many bites of the cherry, you’ll leave us only the stones. You made your beds – now lie down in them!

    • Phil Castle says:

      I liked your article Henry, but not the response to the Scots and NI. I think they have a fair point.

    • George Kirrin says:

      Rather intemperate language even for you, Henry.

      There is a view in parts of Scotland that the division of oil & gas revenues since the 1970s has favoured your English (and Welsh and Northern Irish) cherry trees. In essence, the Treasury took (nearly) all of it and used it for their priorities rather than support the communities
      affected, as Shetland did, as Norway did.

      There’s also an often used line from Robert Burns (To A Louse): “O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us.”

      They made their beds in 2014, I agree, but
      England (with Wales) have moved the goalposts, to mix metaphors.

      I do hope both the Scots and the Northern Irish succeed in their efforts to remain in the EU.

      • henry tapper says:

        Intemperate but only in fun George- I would like to think we can all find a way to remain to some extent in the EU – there are some Norwegian and Swiss options and I dare say their may be a Scottish, Northern Irish and even an English and Welsh one

  3. DaveC says:

    I welcomed the coalition government in 2010.

    What better than a Conservative government moderated by a Liberal one, both keeping each other in check to fulfill their true purposes of conservatism and liberalism?

    I used to vote Liberal every year without fail. Until they stopped being liberals early on in the New Labour government.
    I used to vote Conservative from that point on, until they stopped being capitalists, and turned into crony capitalists.

    The blend of the two was actually something I’d vote for by choice, as during that time they both seemed to revert to their true natures.

    At the time the media and pundits would argue that proportional representation was a ‘bad thing’ because of coalitions… but it seemed clear to me that the UK would benefit a government made up more of the will of the people, than often a government made up from a smaller than half fraction of the population’s will.

    As for the Brexit debate, it’s one I wanted.

    Sadly I think it’s been hijacked to almost all other arguments going and the true purpose and fundamental arguments have been forgotten.

    A few people I know thought they were voting for Boris or Cameron… plenty think that the only argument an out person could have was that of a racist bigot, and that included politicians on both side of that abuse slinging exercise!

    But lets not blame the Conservatives for the “mess” we’re currently in.

    We face a global growth slow down. Demographics across much of the western world have fuelled this.
    Japan’s working age population is now shrinking, countered with a growning retirement age population.
    China’s single child policy is now backfiring and the same demographic problem is evident.

    The UK demographic hasn’t done well either. A 20% rise in the retirement age population in the last 5 years iirc. Have we reached the tipping point yet like Japan recently did?
    Has high immigration managed to curb the onset of this demographic situation yet?

    To try blame the EU referendum for what has been baked into our future for decades in advance is disingenious to say the least.

    But while we get the political system we deserve (in aggregate at least), this crisis seems the perfect scapegoat and catalyst for the next “financial crisis” we didn’t see coming again.

  4. Peter Taylor says:

    Henry that is absolutely spot on. In fact for the first time in my entire life,a few days ago I joined a political party. The Lib Dems as it happens.

  5. Rejoinder to “fun” Scots comment, Henry, Scots made their bed, now English have whipped off the duvet and thrown in out the window.

    That aside, as so often, thoroughly agree with you, Henry. This chimes with the UN report out on 24/6 which shines a light on the specific failings of a government prepared to drive a fiscal policy of great cost to those most in need. Fab summary here

  6. [“….thrown IT out the window” !]
    Forgot to say Vince Cable’s piece today provides some sense of direction, albeit not unattackable. (What proposal from here can be?) It’s here:

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