13 May 2010

Reasons to be cheerful

Now that we've left behind the mess of last weekend, I'm feeling optimistic.  It looked as if there was a real possibility (as seen from outside) that a Lib-Lab pact could be formed, keeping Brown in power for months or years.  The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats seemed to be struggling to reach an agreement, and various die-hards in both parties were telling us all about red lines.

In important ways, the components of the new Government fit my views perfectly.  I'm an economic conservative, strongly so; I believe in markets, opportunity, rewards for enterprise and penalties for failure, and having been a borrower, I hate uncontrolled debt and spending money that can't be paid back.  Socially, many of my views are liberal; some views expressed by readers of some of the more right-wing papers make me sick, and I think that we should fight hard to maintain the tolerance for which this country is renowned. This Government can steer a middle path, leaving extremists behind - the best of all worlds.

I think that both party leaders have played a blinder.  Clegg has achieved more for the Lib-Dems than could have been thought possible last weekend, and Cameron has gone further too.  Maybe Brown's death-bed conversion to the faith of electoral reform was the catalyst, but never mind.

The combined parties have offered Cameron a much larger pool of talent from which to fill the roles in the new Government.  His appointment of more Lib-Dems than demanded by the coalition agreement is a master stroke, money in the bank when decision-making gets tough in the fight against Labour's legacy of debt.

All in all, it's been a great start.  I'm concerned about electoral reform; I don't want to see BNP MPs at Westminster. The horse trading that we saw in the last week could have allowed a cynical Lib-Lab pact to deny the people the change of Government that we so badly needed; 'first past the post' elections usually allow the electorate to choose.  I'm nervous about the consequences of fixed term Parliaments that stop the country from voting when a vote might be the best solution.  But these questions can at least be addressed with careful consideration rather than as the sort of stitch-up deal that could have happened.  Reasons to be cheerful...

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