Liberal Democrats take election pledges into Government
On the 7th May 2010 after the election was over two things were clear, one, Labour had lost and two, as no party had passed the 326 wining mark so no party had won it either. And it meant that the Liberal Democrats were placed by the public's decision in the General Election of trying form a working relationship with one of the other parties to form a stable government.
Eventually an agreement was reached with the Conservative Party to form a coalition government and commenting on this new coalition the Liberal Democrat's Candidate for Southampton Itchen David Goodall said:
"This agreement potentially marks the start of a new era in British politics, both party leaderships have taken a brave step to form coalition, because it is in the countries best interests to have stable government for the next 5 years, due to the financial crisis the country is in."
"Given the outcome of the General Election I believe this is the best deal for the country that the Liberal Democrats could make."
Now the Liberal Democrats did try to reach an agreement with both the Labour Party and Conservative Party, however after a short time the talks with the Labour Party broke down. A statement on this brake down of Labour Party talks was released by Liberal Democrat Chief Executive, Chris Fox it said:
"It is clear that the Labour Party never took seriously the prospects of forming a progressive, reforming government with the Liberal Democrats. Key members of Labour's negotiating team gave every impression of wanting the process to fail and Labour made no attempt at all to agree a common approach with the Liberal Democrats on issues such as fairer schools funding for the most deprived pupils and taking those on low incomes out of tax. It became clear to the Liberal Democrats that certain key Labour cabinet ministers were determined to undermine any agreement by holding out on policy issues and suggesting that Labour would not deliver on proportional representation and might not marshal the votes to secure even the most modest form of electoral reform. It is clear that some people in the Labour Party see opposition as a more attractive alternative to the challenges of creating a progressive, reforming government, not least in the context of a Labour leadership election campaign."
Finally talks with the Conservative Party were successfully concluded and Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg announced:
"We are now going to form a new government. More importantly than anything else, we are going to form a new kind of government; I hope this is the start of a new kind of politics I have always believed in. Diverse, plural, where politicians with different points of view find a way to work together to provide the good government for the sake of the whole country deserves."
"That was what we were asked to do by the people of Britain in the General Election last Thursday and that is what we will deliver."
The agreement between the two parties is full of policies that the Liberal Democrats have campaigned on for years. The policy agreement for the new Government is a real chance to put into action these ideas to put into practice.
The main policies that the Liberal Democrats are taking into Government through the coalition agreement are summarised below :-
A Fair Start for Children
- Introduce a Pupil Premium to give all children a fair start.
Fairer taxes and Economic Reform
- A substantial increase in the personal allowance from April 2011 with a longer term policy objective of further increasing the personal allowance to £10,000, making further real terms steps each year towards this objective
- Reform of the banking system, ensuring a flow of lending to businesses and a Banking Levy.
- An independent commission on separating retail and investment banking.
- Capital Gains Tax reform
- Fixed-term parliaments and a referendum on electoral reform for the House of Commons.
- A power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP was found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing.
- A wholly or mainly elected House of Lords on the basis of proportional representation.
- Giving Parliament control of its own agenda so that all bills are properly debated.
- Enacting the Calman Commission proposals and a referendum on further Welsh devolution.
- A statutory register of lobbyists.
- A limit on political donations and reform of party funding in order to remove big money from politics.
- Radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups.
A fair and sustainable future
- Establish a smart electricity grid and the roll-out of smart meters.
- Establish feed-in tariff systems in electricity
- A huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion.
- The creation of a green investment bank.
- The provision of home energy improvement paid for by the savings from lower energy bills.
- Retention of energy performance certificates when HIPs are scrapped.
- Measures to encourage marine energy.
- The establishment of an emissions performance standard that will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with sufficient CCS to meet the emissions performance standard.
- Establish a high-speed rail network.
- Cancel the third runway at Heathrow and refuse additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted.
- Replace the Air Passenger Duty with a 'per plane' duty.
- The provision of a floor price for carbon, as well as efforts to persuade the EU to move towards full auctioning of ETS permits.
- Make the import or possession of illegal timber a criminal offence.
- Promote green spaces and wildlife corridors in order to halt the loss of habitats and restore biodiversity.
- Reduce central government carbon emissions by 10 per cent within 12 months.
- Increase the target for energy from renewable sources.
- Restoration of the earnings link for the basic state pension from April 2011 with a "triple guarantee" that pensions are raised by the higher of earnings, prices or 2.5%.
- Phase out the default retirement age and end the rules requiring compulsory annuitisation at 75.
- Implement the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman's recommendation to make fair and transparent payments to Equitable Life policyholders.
- Scrap the ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the ContactPoint Database.
- Outlaw the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.
- Extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.
- Adopt the Scottish approach to stopping retention of innocent people's DNA on the DNA database.
- Defend trial by jury.
- Restore rights to non-violent protest.
- A review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
- Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
- Further regulation of CCTV.
- Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.
- A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.
- End the detention of children for immigration purposes.
This initial coalition agreement sets out a range of policy understandings between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on a range of issues. These were issues that needed to be resolved between the parties in order to form a strong and stable government. It will be followed in due course by a final Coalition Agreement, covering the full range of policy and including foreign, defence and domestic policy issues not covered in this initial document.