Sunday, January 09, 2011

Conservatives and Lib Dems in 2015.

Occasionally, I say something that seems to me so blindingly obvious that I cannot fully understand when someone takes exception to it. But that's what seems to have happened in respect of an opinion I've expressed about the future relationship between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems. I was invited to discuss this issue with Tim Mongomerie on Radio Wales' Sunday Supplement this morning. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to develop our thoughts. So I'll do it now.

Firstly, the background. At last May's General Election, the Conservative Party won more seats than any other, but not an overall majority. As soon as the votes were counted, I assumed that David Cameron would become Prime Minister. Initially, I thought he would lead a 'minority' government. When it became clear that the Lib Dems wanted the full works, I was thrilled to bits. We were heading into exciting, uncharted waters, a great time to be an MP. I accepted that the only way for such a coalition to have any chance of working was for both parties to enter into a 'marriage-like' commitment to each other. And that's how I see it. I look on the 3 Welsh Lib Dem MPs (for my main interest is Wales) as close and trusted colleagues.

So how has it turned out. I judge the Coalition to be working at least as well as we could have expected. I hope it continues to do so. It's important to the national interest. It's been particularly tough for the Lib Dems, but they have shown an impressive determination to 'get real' about 'governmnet'. They deserve and receive my respect.

Where do we go from here. Now, I have no idea what will happen as we approach the end of this Parliament in 2015. No-one knows with any certainty. An interesting topic of discussion (and its not much more than that) is what will happen in 4 years time. Let's assume that all has gone well, the economic mess left by Labour has been cleared up - and some progress has been made on low pay, poverty, fairness, UK sovereignty, crime, localism, civil liberty and environmental sustainability. There may even be scope for tax reductions as we go into the next General Election. How do we manage the process of ending the Coalition to fight the General Election. There will surely not be much scope for criticising each other's record in government, and limited scope for distinctiveness in how we go forward, because we will have taken so many decisions covering part of the next Parliament. I would hope that every Conservative and Lib Dem can envisage this level of success.

Now to where I seem to be thinking controversially. I can see that any sort of 'coupon' election is highly unlikely. But I can envisage a position where there will be 'tactical voting' amongst party supporters. I can envisage supporters switching to the coalition party with the best chance of winning. I can envisage those with responsibility for preparing the manifestos of both parties trying to ensure that there are not too many 'red lines' included - making negotiating a second coalition easier. This seems to be common sense to me. In the 8 months since I've been elected, I've learned that it is unwise to rule anything out. This is one reason why I feel so fortunate to be an MP at this time.


Anonymous said...

I think whats interesting is that the 2015 election was being discussed within a month of the 2010 election!.

And what's even more strange is that when Plaid and Labour hooked up, there was no talk like this.... until quite recently (as it's election year). But I suppose it's not really 'new' in Wales. But more so I don't think a lot of people would know that there is a coalition in the Bay due to the lack of media attention! (sad I know!)

And in fairness to both it looks as though they'll end the coalition as 'mates'.
But even greater for democracy, there doesn't seem to be any talk of tactical votes, they'll be fighting each like before, but maybe a bit nicer.
And what's even more remarkable is that it seems there will be a 'OneWales.2'. Something I think has been really good for Wales- a proper full on Coalition (not the silly one Lab had with LibDems).

So my message to Tory HQ is learn from Wales. You simply cannot vote tactically as that's just bad for democracy. And if you're going to do that, why not have a full on merger?.

And really I can't see it happening in seats, and I hope it doesn't, at least not 'publicly'.

My finally message to the coalition, is get on with Government! This is a problem for 4yrs time!. And I do hope you end like Plaid and Labour, and not in a bombshell moment a few months before an election (which I think it might!- sorry Glyn!)

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - I can relate to all that you say. Funny how perspectives differ depending on standpoints. I see almost minimal attention on Welsh issues at Westminster - while you see not enough attention on Cardiff Bay!

I desperately want us to end the coalition as mates at Westminster and fight the General Election as 'Gentlemen' Jim Corbett and Gene Tunney used to fight for world heavyweight titles - fair and best man win etc..

Of course there's alway's been the possibility that it might all fall apart - but I hope not and I think it won't. I find the sheer novelty of where we are to be exciting and I hope it works out.

PEte Roberts said...

I would have to say the key for the coalition is not any form of tactical voting or electoral pacts but a clear campaign and successful outcome to the AV referendum.

This would then allow all parties to campaign in a positive way in future elections safe in the knowledge that for most seats they will have to win over sufficient support from the 3rd and fourth placed parties to gain the 50% required to win.

In this case there would be no need to tactically support the best placed coalition partner instead you could vote with your conscience safe in the knowledge that the vote will not be wasted. Then and only then will you need to put a tactical consideration into place with your 2, 3 and 4 votes.

Anonymous said...

longing for a montgomeryshire bi-election soon. You are failing us Glyn. 180 jobs gone from shop direct and you have done nothing to prevent this