A marriage of convenience

The best news about the new political reality at Westminster is, of, course, that if things work out as hoped we will all be spared the horror of another general election for the next five years. How, however, will the coalition affect family policies?

Well, there's not much news yet. One thing does, however, appear to have been decided as part of the Tory/Lib-Dem deal. According to reports (see, for example, in The Telegraph today), the Liberal democrats have agreed not to block the Tory marriage tax break proposal. They will not, however, support the proposal. By my maths, it thus appears that the proposal will be passed, there not being enough MPs to defeat the Tory vote without the Lib-Dems.

What of other family policies? There are, of course, more pressing issues, and I suspect it will therefore be some time before we hear anything more. Looking at the manifestos of the Tories and Lib-Dems, there does seem to be scope for further reforms, but also scope for argument over issues upon which the two parties disagree - I doubt whether such details were thrashed out in the coalition deal, but we shall see.

Longer-term, it must seem very doubtful whether there will be the much-needed reform of our divorce laws. That is such a divisive issue at the best of times, and having a government made of two different parties must surely make it even more unlikely.

Finally, who will be the new Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, assuming that department remains in its current form? It appears that he/she will be a Tory, and presumably therefore former shadow Children's Secretary Michael Gove, although quite what that may mean I don't know.

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UPDATE: The Coalition Agreement has now been published, and this confirms that Liberal Democrat MPs may abstain on budget resolutions to introduce transferable tax allowances for married couples without prejudice to the agreement. It has also been announced that Michael Gove is to be Education Secretary, with the DCSF looking like it may be broken up.

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FURTHER UPDATE: The DCSF will be known once again as the Department for Education.


  1. Sorry John, you are wrong. The married tax break proposal has been dropped as has the proposed amnesty on illegal immigrants from the Lib Dems.

    I too am very glad not to have to vote again soon in a general election for 5 years hopefully.

    Will happily vote for AV when the referendum happens. Hopefully next year as fed up with politics for at least a year.

    As a liberal democrat I feel a bit uneasy about this, I just hope we at least get AV on the back of it and the rest we can call a conservative government and blame them for.

  2. What I'm reading still says what I stated in the post about the marriage tax break, but we shall see.

  3. P.S. As you seem to be a little down about the commitment fading perhaps a little bit, perhaps it should be reminded that the Conservatives did not get a majority and most people (by a long way, think 64%) voted for other parties who didn't have this policy.

    Still, I wonder how long the honeymoon will last. Sure Cameron and Clegg get on (identical backgrounds) but not sure that the grassroots are quite so affectionate, like what happened between the Labour party and Lib Dems yesterday. We will see. Like I say, AV for propping-up a Tory Government for 5 years is a price worth paying.

    Personally, I hope it lasts just long enough for the referendum to happen and hopefully for a yes to AV vote. Then we can walk out on them. More of a marriage of convenience than of mutual admiration. The divorce will be painful, just hope we get AV through before then, or on the back of it.

  4. @David, I am intrigued about what appears to be an innate tension in your comments:

    1. As a LibDem, you feel you are propping up a Tory government and want to get out of the coalition.

    2. As a LibDem, you also want voting reform. This would give you a larger share of parliament, and would presumably mean that coalitions are far more frequent in future.

    I can sympathise with both sentiments, but if proportional representation (and more frequent coalitions) are to become part of the British parliamentarian system, this will automatically lead to alliances between parties that have misgivings about some elements of the other party's policies or culture.

    I live in a proportional representation country (Germany), and while all coalitions have their downsides (not least the present one), I still feel that on balance this system is fairer than a "winner takes all" system. But it does involve a willingness to cooperate and compromise.

  5. Victor, I agree with you, on everything you say.

    I think I am worried as it is my first time ;-).

    Also our system is not complete yet and our policies are not the same as theirs, so worried about the Conservatives putting the country back into recession and the lib dems being associated with that when we would not have cut so much had we been in power or according to what the electorate want (not the tory's axe).

    I could go on for a long time on this subject. I think on balance I agree with you that moving to coalition is best, thing is most in the country don't want the tories, still I think it's a price worth paying to get the system mended. Regards, David.


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