A Happy New Year to you all – and it promises to be a good year indeed.
We have a year of Liberal Democrats in government – and, hopefully, many of our policies to look forward to. Much of our manifesto is in the government’s programme – it is a refreshing change to use it as a reference for our role in government instead of throwing it away as we usually do after each general election.
The argument about forming the coalition still goes on – so let’s all go to a parallel universe. Let us imagine that we did not talk to the Tories at all – and that instead the Conservative party formed a minority government.
1. The Liberal Democrats would once again be accused of being scared of power and responsibility (considering the number of members who have left the party over the last year then in many cases there may be a point here).
2. David Cameron would call another general election.
3. In this second election, the Liberal Democrats would not be able to campaign effectively (as we have spent all our money on the first election). Labour, temporarily under Harriet Harman, would remain shell shocked. And so the Tories would pick up seats from both parties to get a handsome majority.
4. We then enter 2011 with a ‘pure’ Tory government – which would still mean increased VAT and spending cuts but the main differences would be (i) no tax cuts for the lower incomes, (ii) no pupil premium for disadvantaged children, (iii) no cap on tuition fees which would go to £15,000 and beyond, (iv) absolutely no constitutional change at all (voting reform, House of Lords etc) and (v) helping the environment? You’re having a laugh!
The Lib Dem poll rating would hover around its usual 15% mark and many party members (now ex-members) would resume their sense of self-satisfaction in the purity of opposition.
The media would go back to ignoring us, there would be no Liberal Democrat ministers nor any of our policies in government.
By 2014 the PM would call an election at a time of good poll rating (no fixed terms). Our opponents and voters all say to us ‘you had the chance of power and you blew it – why should we waste our vote?’ With recovery under way, the Tories increase their majority.
Moving back to this world – we did talk to the Tories, we did do a deal, and we are changing things.
One world with Lib Dems in government, another with an exclusive Tory government. I think I know which I would prefer. Let's hope it is a Happy New Liberal Democrat Year to everyone.