The Cameron-Clegg Coalition: Lessons Learned? | The Political Studies Association (PSA)
Nick Clegg has said his “biggest mistake” during the Coalition his biggest mistake as leader was sitting next David Cameron at PMQs. Nick Clegg has revealed how his relationship with Michael Gove he told David Cameron he would end all personal dealings with Gove, and that the news the then prime minister also had difficulties with the Gove team. David Cameron and Nick Clegg: a special relationship “One of the biggest problems of the last few years has been a chronic short-termism in.
As the European Elections demonstrated Ukip have benefited from electoral concerns about immigration and have captured the supposed anti-politics mood. Between andtheir combined vote oscillated between This meant that, for example, Labour lost office in on The period since has seen a gradual erosion of support for the two main parties, with their joint vote hitting 80 per cent only once since inat The vote share needed to secure a parliamentary majority shrunk.
Thatcher won three elections in a row between and with large parliamentary majorities in and on vote shares of The gradual increase in support of the Liberals, the Social Democratic Party-Liberal Alliance and eventually the Liberal Democrats, has occurred simultaneous to increases in support for the Welsh and Scottish nationalists.
Their growth, aided by the destabilising impact of Ukip contributed to the combined Conservative-Labour vote hitting a post war low of The peculiarities of the first-past-the-post system, however, means that it is possible for Labour to win a parliamentary majority in May even if they secure a low share of the vote.
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For the Conservatives to win a majority would require them to improve their vote share frombut there has been little polling evidence recently to suggest that this is within their reach. Thus, a hung Parliament remains a possibility. For the two main parties the central decision is whether to seek to govern as a minority, or form a loose arrangement with others, or construct a formal coalition.
These questions lead us to ask what the parties may have learnt from the coalition negotiations that took place in May May coalition negotiations In Maythe parliamentary arithmetic boxed the Liberal Democrats in. A coalition with Labour was harder to construct, because their combined representation plus 57 still left them short of a parliamentary majority — i. The possibility of forming a strong and stable government was more likely with the Conservatives plus Given the economic environment and the perilous state of the Eurozone area the new government was going to implement unpopular economic reforms.
For Cameron the option was: The junior coalition partner Comparative coalition formation literature tells us that there are two central issues that need to be resolved in coalition negotiations: In terms of policy, the Liberal Democrats superficially did reasonably well.
Over and beyond securing the AV referendum albeit not their preferred option of proportional representation PRthey gained policy concessions in terms of the NHS, schools, pensioners, and a tax cut for the lowest paid.
On personnel, the Liberal Democrats were effective negotiators in numeric terms. In coalitions, the larger party does tend to secure slightly fewer ministerial positions than proportionately would allow. The Liberal Democrats had In terms of policy three issues challenge this. Second, any perceived gains that the Liberal Democrats had secured on social policy terms were nullified by the fact that future policy would be subordinated to the need to reduce the deficit.
The Cameron-Clegg Coalition: Lessons Learned?
Finally, the Liberal Democrats allowed themselves to be exposed on their most prominent electoral commitment — a pledge not to increase tuition fees. In terms of personnel, it is portfolio distribution and prestige that matters as much as numbers.
Here the Conservatives outmanoeuvred the Liberal Democrats. The five Liberal Democrat Cabinet posts were either peripheral or advantageous to the Conservatives.
Offering the Liberal Democrats the Scottish Office was peripheral to Conservative concerns and ironic, given that the Liberal Democrats had previously questioned its need in the post-devolutionary age. It was useful to have a Liberal Democrat minister in the Treasury to share responsibility for the austerity programme. Cuts were therefore presented as being in the national interest, rather than being ideologically driven. Offering the Liberal Democrats Energy and Business served a partisan purpose.
It would ensure that it was Liberal Democrat Cabinet ministers Chris Huhne and Vince Cable respectively who announced the creation of new nuclear power stations and tuition fees increases, both of which they had opposed in their manifestos months earlier. It was also helpful to the Conservatives to leave Nick Clegg preoccupied with political reform, at a time when economic concerns predominated.
Ownership equates to visibility and associations with distinct policies, but those policies unlike tuition fees need to aid the junior partner in electoral terms. The Liberal Democrats might wish, therefore, to reflect on the merits of depth rather the breadth. Having secured 23 ministerial positions in Maythe Liberal Democrats spread themselves thinly across government.
The party calculated that having ministers in virtually every department would ensure impact across all aspects of government policy. However, this is difficult to demonstrate to the electorate.
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In retrospect depth rather than breadth, may have been a better option — position ministers in a small number of departments where they can make a clearer policy impact and sell this to the electorate at the end of the parliamentary term. This may be necessary in future negotiations, as a reduction in parliamentary representation for the Liberal Democrats, would mean that the larger party will have to offer fewer ministerial positions. In addition, they should consider the idea that the Deputy Prime Minister should be placed within a major government department.
Coalition lessons for the largest party The likelihood of forming a coalition in a hung Parliament, will depend upon which is the largest party in terms of parliamentary representation and vote share.
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It will also matter how close the largest party is to holding a majority and whether this might compel them to want to form a minority administration. Should the largest party seek to negotiate to form a coalition then the dynamics of this process could be different from Mayfor a number of reasons.UK: David Cameron hails 'new era' as coalition sets to work
First, the larger parties should be better prepared for engaging in coalition negotiations than in May The Labour Party were widely criticised for their limited preparation and attitude to coalition negotiations. Part of that preparation process must involve constructing their manifestos in a manner than provides scope for flexibility, and that would allow them to be implemented within a coalition arrangement.
The tensions between Cameron and Clegg over EU - BBC News
Second, in coalition negotiations the party leaders matter. The parliamentary arithmetic effectively scuppered any prospect of a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition in Maybut its prospects were also undermined by the Liberal Democrats' lack of faith in Gordon Brown. Mr Cameron was asked about a remark he had once made when he was asked for a joke and had replied: Having released the full details of the coalition deal, the Prime Minister said: And it will be an administration united behind one key purpose: This is a sign of the strength and depth of this coalition and our sincere determination to work together constructively to make this coalition work in the national interest.
The changing political reality was reflected in the Cabinet posts. Iain Duncan Smith, the former party leader, has the task of forcing through radical welfare reform as Work and Pensions Secretary. Mr Cameron has kept his closest colleagues in the key positions.
Under the terms of the coalition deal, there will be fixed term parliaments with the next election scheduled for May 7, But, crucially, there is a mechanism to allow parliament to be dissolved, triggering an election, if 55 per cent of MPs agree.
The Lib Dems dropped opposition to replacing Trident and have agreed to an immigration cap.