Jim McConalogue: Why Conservative MPs ought to have rejected Coalition Government
Cutting through the "Rose Garden romance" and subsequent disputes over NHS reforms through to the empty European Union Bill, the key reason for the Coalition Government’s existence has been to secure the highest ministerial positions for senior members of the Conservative party leadership after 13 long years in opposition, and reward their Liberal Democrat king-makers with gesture prizes to accommodate their desperate quest for achieving recognition and power (after some 70 years in opposition) - thereby securing their joint legislative parliamentary majority to rule. At the top, David Cameron. A Coalition Prime Minister, not a Conservative Prime Minister.
As Benjamin Disraeli told the House of Commons on 16 December 1852: “But coalitions, although successful, have always found this, that their triumph has been brief. This too I know, that England does not love coalitions.” Conservative MPs ought to have rejected Coalition Government - and Disraeli’s sense of inevitable failure of Coalitions is taking place. It may be that Liberal Democrats are paying the price for Coalition now, but why are Conservatives not convinced that they are next?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean put it in a modern context when considering the current Coalition on 20 January: “What is clear is that this coalition is different from previous ones in this country in a number of important respects. The first and most important is that this coalition has not been voted for as a coalition by the British people.”
As a consequence, in line with the prioritised and intense interests of the leadership of the participating political parties and their own private coalition agreement, we witness the subversion of the manifestoes on which the Coalition MPs were elected, the breaking of the democratic connect between the Coalition MP and voter through the surrendered manifesto and most important of all, the abandonment of the national interest in pursuit of the power-hunting party leaderships seeking private agendas which are fixed not by their respective voters, or even by their party grassroots, but by the party leaderships themselves.
There are some who see in the face of the Coalition a great "make-up-and-get-along" united government but, sadly, they have been duped. The arrangement, one year on, remains a dangerous unrepresentative machine parading as "unity in diversity" but which in principle, is undemocratic and against the national interest. I am afraid raw power has taken over.
The great difficulty with the Coalition Government’s programme, created on the basis of the Coalition Agreement of 20 May 2010, is that it is not a democratic mandate since it was not voted upon at the last election: the Government’s programme has no democratic basis in the wishes of voters.
As the House of Commons’ Political and Constitutional Reform Committee said in its report on the formation of coalition government on 20 January 201: “By its nature, the policies of a coalition government have not been endorsed by the people.”
The Coalition Agreement of 20 May relinquished the pledges of the Coalition parties - Conservatives and Liberal Democrats - in their respective political manifestoes, and thereby surrendered the democratic wishes of the voters at the last election. The Coalition Government has subsequently - in the undemocratic pursuit of its own legislative programme of government - further flouted basic democratic principles and the wishes of voters. The Coalition arrangements result in illegitimate, unstable and undemocratic government against the national interest. The British electorate deserve better, legitimate, stable and democratic government - a government agenda they voted for.
Conservative MPs will see their appeasement played out in every step of Coalition politics: their reneging on manifesto promises on the Human Rights Act – which would have, for example, dealt with the ECHR/prisoner voting situation – through to the various European Union commitments.
It is clear that both the Liberal Democrats and their partner, the Conservatives, must take active and urgent steps toward abandoning the undemocratic Government programme, rejecting the Coalition Agreement of last May, returning their Members to pursue the pledges in their respective political manifestos on which they were elected - and, if necessary, call an immediate General Election in order to form a democratically elected Government.