What impact has the Coalition had on Parliamentary government?
Posted by Matt Walker on March 5, 2012
Not satisfied with allowing students to weave recent developments into exam answers say, about Parliament, Edexcel examiners have recently asked some nasty questions specifically about the impact of the coalition government. So let us begin to explore the impact of the coalition on Parliament.
Increasingly, political commentators are identifying fault-lines within the coalition. It should come as no surprise that the initial political goodwill of the strangest of political bed-fellows should come under strain once real political choices have to be made. Divisions over the EU were inevitable, given the two very different perspectives of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties. But divisions have also recently been seen over the government’s reform programme: welfare, NHS, and House of Lords. On defence, the decision to be made in 2016 on whether to renew the UK’s nuclear deterrent might also be explosive, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Tory and Lid Dem critics of the coalition will no doubt bemoan how their own party’s policies and values are undermined by the coalition. But it could be argued that Parliament itself has been strengthened. Liberal Democrat peers in particular have made significant amendments to the NHS reforms set out in the Health and Social Care Bill, whilst causing problems for the government’s Welfare Reform Bill. It may be the turn of the Conservatives next, as they will seek to challenge the Clegg-sponsored House of Lords reforms.
Jackie Ashley argues that all of this will undermine the government and pave the way for its eventual downfall. This remains to be seen. But the relationship between the Lib Dems and Tories in this coalition government is arguably providing Parliament with greater opportunities and leverage which it perhaps would not have under single party government.