The Deputy Prime Minister’s assertion that the conservatives have “broken” the Coalition agreement is not only inaccurate but is worryingly unprofessional.
The news has hit that the DPM plans to take revenge on the Conservatives following the rebellion of 91 MPs on Lords Reform. He has confirmed that the Liberal Democrats plan to hit back by blocking boundary changes in the House.
There are several worrying nuances to this.
The first is that the Liberal Democrats believe that putting a bill forward with a timetable motion to get it done quickly, an attempted whipping of MPs and a public fight over an issue equates to the Prime Minister “breaking” the Coalition agreement. Clearly their idea of breaking an agreement and mine are too very different things for as far as I can see the Prime Minister has done everything in his power to help Lords Reform through. Ultimately, if there is a rebellion, there is a rebellion. The Prime Minister tried whipping and pressuring and he has, rather sensibly, concluded that it just isn’t going to wash.
The second is that the Liberal Democrats believe in “an eye for an eye”. They’ve asserted that as the Conservatives have, in their eyes, “broken” the agreement, they can too. This is an exceptionally worrying stance for a party that self-righteously reminds us constantly that they believe in the rule of law and clean politics. It appears that viewpoint doesn’t apply when they want the chance to play dirty. There is a strong element of hypocrisy here in criticising the Conservatives for breaking their agreement right before doing the same.
The third, and my personal fear, is that the Deputy Prime Minister plans on taking revenge and retaliating against his own Prime Minister. It’s as if the LibDems don’t quite get good governance at all. He is the Prime Minister’s deputy, not his equal. As a rule, he is there at the pleasure of the Queen, who chose David Cameron to govern. Why does he then feel it’s appropriate to rebel openly against not only an incumbent Prime Minister but his own colleague? It is the height of unprofessionalism and does great damage to the Liberals’ statesmen credentials. If they can’t be loyal to their own Government whilst IN Government, especially in a positions such as DPM who on earth do they expect is going to trust them with such senior positions again?
The final is that the Liberal Democrats believe House of Lords Reform is more important than economics, education, health or welfare. They complain that they backed all of the above and yet Lords Reform is a step too far. Wow. Really? They went back on tuition fees, backed the budget, pushed through controversial health reforms and have contributed to stripping welfare provision (I hasten to add that I express no opinion here about any of these things), complain about doing so and then decide that Lords Reform is their major issue they can’t continue without. They really think reforming that House is their priority? I don’t join with the ridiculous notion that Government’s can’t do two things at once, of course they can. However to have picked this issue above all others to rebel over is just pathetic.
I have to question, what are these people doing in my Government? Say what you like about both Labour and the Conservatives but ultimately both have proved to have statesmen amongst them, to believe in good governance, to stand for collective responsibility and to show loyalty toward their Prime Ministers. Somebody needs to drill this into the Liberals quickly if they want to ever repeat their stint in Whitehall.