Friday, October 22, 2010

The Coalition: what does it teach us about Coalitions?

Over on Liberal Conspiracy, Stuart White asks the LibDems to consider how they would have reacted to an outright Tory victory, and its policies. My comment:

It is very clear what the LibDems have sacrificed to be in the Coalition.

It is not so clear what the Tories have sacrificed, apart from the miserable concession for an AV referendum, a system that nobody likes, conflated in Parliament with aggressive boundary changes. Maybe there are other LibDem “gains” – the LibDems should lay them out. It looks as if the Tories have manipulated them mercilessly.

I am a Green, and must confess (once again, with maximum embarrassment) to standing down as candidate to try to let the LibDem in, and so I voted LibDem. Won’t do that again.

However, Comohaontas Glas, the Irish Green Party, went into coalition with the Irish Tory party, and they have been faced with the same horrendous contortions that the LibDems are facing.

Given that coalition governments are the usual product of PR, which is deeply to be desired, we have to learn some lessons about coalitions.

It seems to me that the rule should be, for any party with even the slightest interest in progress, Do Not Go Into Coalition with Conservatives.

In preparation for this Greens, Respect, Labour, progressive Nationalists and even the decent rump of LibDems should start talking now about unified opposition to the cuts, agreeing, if possible, an alternative package, and if at all possible, agreements on not competing against each other in selected winnable seats.

This is not as easy as it seems. Political parties are nothing if not tribalists, and (as I found to my cost) standing down to let another party through is by no means a simple matter. However, the seriousness of the damage that the Coalition is doing to the fabric of our nation as sink back into recession drives us at least to consider this course of action.


Jim Jepps said...

It's a lesson about ditching your political principles to go into the wrong coalition - I don't think it's a lesson about coalitions in general.

The German Greens are in regional coalitions and were in a national coalition and they are doing *very* well in the polls and likewise the Swedish Greens are in tight coalition with the centre left but while their vote went down ours went up.

The principle of cooperating with people outside of our circle is really important, but ditching the purpose of the party has proved disasterous.

Anonymous said...

Good blog, and agree with Jims analysis. I really hope that many in the Lib-dems will finally realise they have been "done" are being used as a shield for Cons and leave! I know some feel that its "their party" as well, and can feel sympathy for that but Clegg has pulled them too far.
Going on TUC rally tomorrow, in Sheffield, hope lots of people from all parties turn up, yep, no time to be tribal.


Can you help?

DocRichard said...

Hi Jim
Good point.
When I wrote "Do Not Go Into Coalition with Conservatives" maybe it should have been "Do Not Go Into Coalition with Free Market Fundamentalists". We would not go into coalition with the BNP for obvious reasons, namely that their philosophy is socially psychotic.

Similarly, FMFism is socially and ecologically psychotic. They are idealists, putting the market uber alles.

Politics is the art of compromise. To compromise with Labour/NuLabour would be enough of a nose-holder. To go into coalition with Cameroonism might be possible, but the Tories are a blend of Cameroon (for PR purposes) and FMFism, and that is a bridge too far, as the libDems are finding out to their cost. (will they be in single figures in the next opinion poll?).