Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Five reasons why I'm backing a Lab/Lib coalition

Yesterday I outlined why I don't think the current Tory-Lib Dem coalition deserves to be re-elected.  Here's why I hope a Lab-Lib coalition will emerge in its place.

1.  Labour has fought the most positive campaign. Call me old-fashioned if you like, but I still believe that politics should be about sharing a vision of a better world rather than promising to protect us from nightmares - the politics of hope versus the politics of fear. While the Tories have relied on negative campaigning and the tired old tactic of better-the-devil-you-know, Labour has set out a positive case for change, outlining how they would change this country for the better. Even if you don't agree with all the details, this is the right way to do politics and it deserves to succeed.

2.  Ed Miliband has exceeded expectations and has demonstrated that he is ready to be Prime Minister. Despite being subjected to the most disgraceful and frankly juvenile abuse from certain elements of the national press, the Labour leader has held up well under pressure.  As someone said on Twitter today: "I’m sure Cameron eats a bacon sandwich really well. But he’s overseen a million people visiting food banks. I know which matters more."  Ed M may never have that easy rapport with the public that Tony Blair had in his pomp, but in a contest with Cameron he wins hands down, simply because he is more in touch with the lives of ordinary voters.

3.  Labour is the only major party committed to repealing the 2012 Health and Social Care Act. I've heard it argued by health service professionals that the horse has already bolted on this, and that the unleashing of private sector forces into the NHS cannot now be undone.  Well, maybe, but it can be contained.  The Health and Social Care Act - that massive, top-down reorganisation the Tories promised us would never happpen - was a deceitful piece of legislation that set out a route-map towards a system of privatised health care that few people actually want.  It needs to go so we can rebuild our NHS according to the principles on which it was founded.

4.  Contrary to the received wisdom, Labour's policies are actually more business-friendly than those of the Tories. People who do not realise this are faling to see the elephant in the room, namely David Cameron's commitment to an in-out referendum on European Union membership in 2017.  The uncertainty created by this will wreck the so-called 'recovery' and prolong the economic pain for those households, businesses and regions who have yet to see its benefits.  On the question of the deficit, there is very little to choose between the two big parties and, since 2010, Labour has moved significantly in the direction of greater fiscal responsibility.

5.  In coalition with the Liberal Democrats, Ed Miliband would lead a social democratic rather than a socialist government.  Nick Clegg has been absolutely right in this campaign to position the Lib Dems as a moderating influence on left and right, maintaining his equidistance between the two big parties and appealing to the centre ground which is where British politics should continue to be anchored.  Many see Clegg as a Tory collaborator but to be fair, he has made it clear he will talk first to whichever party has the most seats.  For the other reasons set out above, I hope - and pray - that this will be Labour.

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