26th May 2010 Articles
The Lib-Con pact is riven with deep ideological faultlines
The coalition agreement between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats is not so much a programme for government as a catalogue of concessions achieved by the smaller party at the expense of the larger one. Many of them spelt out in precise detail. We learn the coalition is committed “to make the import or possession of illegal timber a criminal offence” and to promoting “wildlife corridors in order to halt the loss of habitats.” Almost every item of the Lib Dems’ proposed freedom bill is there, down to “adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.” There is even to be “further regulation of CCTV” and an undefined “mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.”
But where the Lib Dems are flying blind, the omissions are huge. There are no targets for deficit reduction beyond stating that cuts will be “significantly accelerated.” In a section on deficit reduction and economic growth the two are conflated, on the questionable premise that the first “ensures” the second. This section is far shorter than the catalogue of environmental pledges and constitutional reform. It also carries more detail on new spending pledges and tax cuts than on spending cuts or tax increases: a new “pupil premium” costing £2.5bn, for instance, funded by unspecified cuts elsewhere.
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