A LibCon government is not desirable
Guido has blogged about the benefits of a Cameron-Clegg government and I can see some possibilities for fruitful co-belligerence. Before any Conservatives get carried away, however, I think it's worth remembering the much bigger downsides of any such alliance. Here are ten:
- Some sort of referendum on electoral reform is likely to be the price of LibDem support. Proportional representation would hand more power over candidate selection to central party machines and institutionalise indecisive coalition government of the kind now suffered by Germany - once the poster nation for PR.
- The prospects of Greg Clark's sane environmentalism would diminish as the Liberal Democrats - dogmatically opposed to nuclear power - would drag Britain to the most costly forms of climate change policy.
- In the Chancellor's Debate Vince Cable showed his true colours,
attacking 50p taxpayers as a new Scargill tendency. He wants to levy
new taxes on homes, capital gains and air travel.
- The Liberal Democrats would soften the Conservative approach to crime. They oppose short sentences and advocate voting rights for prisoners.
- The Laws-Browne reforming tendency within Nick Clegg's party is much smaller than the public sector vote within LibDem ranks. Most LibDem voters prefer the idea of a colaition with Labour than the Conservatives. They would frustrate the kind of schools reforms that Michael Gove wants to deliver.
- The Liberal Democrats oppose a cap on immigration and would be
unlikely to support the Tory ambition to reduce net inflows from the
hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.
- Nick Clegg is a committed Europhile and would veto any substantial rebalancing of the UK-EU relationship.
- The Liberal Democrats want to scrap Trident, leaving Britain without a deterrent in an increasingly dangerous world.
- The Liberal Democrats are an anti-Israel party, with Baroness Jenny Tonge the worst example of this tendency. Many of their MPs have been elected on the back of winning support from the Muslim Council of Britain and other groups that the Conservatives believe are forces for disunity.
- The Liberal Democrats are fiercely opposed to David Cameron's policy on marriage. They oppose any support for this crucial provider of welfare.
I do not think that these arguments should form our public campaign against the Liberal Democrats. I make them simply to remind Conservatives about the dangers of a LibCon pact.