There has not been a day gone by where the ‘relationship’ status of the coalition has not been discussed; if it were on Facebook it would be classed as ‘it’s complicated’ although only because there is no ‘potentially fractious’ option. The next month will be no different as the party conference season gets into full swing.
As the Lib Dems host their conference in Liverpool there have been increased murmurings from the Lib Dem membership. One potentially embarrassing event was the conference rejection of support for free-schools. While this cannot possibly have any effect on the legislation which was passed in July, it does show a growing unease within the membership.
This has been highlighted by Mike Hancock MP – who represents Portsmouth South – who has warned the party against creating minister ‘dictators’ who would ignore the views of the wider membership. Unsurprisingly, ministers have rejected such claims but nonetheless Lib Dem members may be starting to think that the concessions to the Tories have gone far enough, or at least without the necessary Lib Dem democratic process.
Whether there are issues with the ‘relationship’ or not the mere formation of the coalition means there is now a legitimate progressive void which only one credible party can fill.
Labour has an extremely important role for the UK as a whole. Being a credible Opposition to the coalition will temper many of the decisions and will provide the much needed debate for the democratic process to work at its best.
It is also an extremely important time for the Labour Party; they are not only electing the next leader but electing a potential Prime Minister. The Economist rightly points out that while Labour did lose the election, Labour have enough seats to return back to power within one term. As this blog has discussed in the past, David Miliband looks to be the strongest; the most centre-ground progressive contender who values the centre-right economics of deficit reduction and liberalism who understands that legitimate and sustained economic growth has to be driven by a successful and encouraged private sector. The others may not be able to fight the coalition away from the centre-ground.
The next few weeks are of utmost importance and intrigue for not only the potential parties involved but the wider public also. If a leftist Labour leader is announced on the 25th it could lead to the Party being unelectable and both Labour and the public would be in political suspension for years to come.
Without credible Opposition, there cannot be credible government.