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Posts Tagged ‘Coalition government’

Coalition politics: Lib Dem conference and the NHS reforms

Posted by Matt Walker on March 11, 2012

I recently posted about the need for students to consider the impact the coalition has made on British politics. I suggested that its impact across a range of issues was beginning to be felt, in particular the empowerment of Parliament. The extent of this empowerment might soon be measured regarding the coalition’s NHS reform bill.

Although they decided not to debate the coalition’s NHS reforms, the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference has today expressed its rejection of those reforms. The vote is not binding on the Liberal Democrat leadership. which means that Nick Clegg will not be forced to go to his coalition partners and say the reforms must be stopped. However, rejection of the reforms has  effectively become Liberal Democrat policy.

So what is this the significance of this? In the end, there may be none. However, the question now is how Lib Dem peers and MPs will react, and whether they will vote against the bill. The highly-regarded Lib Dem peer (and former Labour minister) Dame Shirley Williams, now supports the reforms, which may well sway Lib Dem Parliamentarians to finally back the NHS reforms. However,  as the BBC points out, this vote might empower these peers and MPs  into outright rejection of the bill.

Either way, the extensive amendments to this bill would probably not have occurred without the existence of the coalition, as a single party Conservative Government would probably have ignored much of the objections to the bill.


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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.

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