April 19, 2017 § 2 Comments
I’ve seen a lot of speculation about coalitions in relation to the election, and especially in relation to the Lib Dems. So I’m going to set out my own position here, and explain why my position matters (which it wouldn’t if I were a Labour or Conservative member).
A coalition deal including the Lib Dems requires the consent of two thirds of Liberal Democrat conference delegates, under Article 22 of the Lib Dem constitution. We are a democratic party, and for example in 2010 we held a special conference that endorsed the coalition deal. Times have changed since then, though, and instead of the collection of delegate-bigwigs who made the call in 2010, the party has moved to one member one vote. That’s the system that any coalition deal would have to go through. I suggest to any of you reading this that you take speculation on Farron’s motives or comments regarding coalitions with a strong pinch of salt – it’s emphatically not his call to make in a democratic party, and in the (exceptionally unlikely) event of a hung parliament the Lib Dem members would make their voices clearly heard.
So, speculation over a Lib Dem-Tory coalition. Short version: it’s nonsense and no more likely than a Labour-Tory one at this stage. I do not think such a coalition deal would be possible to begin with, as an immediate change in the electoral system and commitment to retaining membership of the European Economic Area would likely be the party leadership’s minimum red lines. In the unlikely event that the leadership reneged on these red lines, they would have to try and force a deal through an energetic, belligerent conference floor. Even if these lines were met (in which case the Conservative party would be collapsing internally), it would be up to any prospective dealmakers to convince conference that such a proposed government could save the NHS, rebuild our education system, and deliver on liberal values in other areas. I don’t think that this scenario is possible, let alone likely.
But I’ll be clear for my own part: I think, and I think most of my party agree, that the Conservatives lack the moral authority to run our country. They are a ramshackle party clinging to their internal unity at the expense of the country, mired in corruption allegations, with an incompetent record on the economy and an immoral one on social policy. Whilst I am sure that such a conversation won’t happen, I would not vote for (and would campaign to oppose) a proposed government that was led by the Conservative party, under any terms, and I am confident that a majority of Liberal Democrat members would not do so either.