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Lessons of Coalition (16): what do the Lib Dems need to learn from the first 3 years?

August 20, 2013 5:49 PM
By Paul Walter in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

CoalitiobLibDemVoice is running a daily feature, 'Lessons of Coalition', to assess the major do's and don'ts learned from our experience of the first 3 years in government. Reader contributions are welcome, either as comments or posts. The word limit is no more than 450 words, and please focus on just one lesson you think the party needs to learn. Simply email your submission to and copy

Today c shares his thoughts.

These are less lessons and more shocks.

1. The robustness of the remaining Lib Dem members

I am quite shocked, or pleasantly surprised, by the robust support given to the coalition government by Lib Dem members, including myself. We've stuck with it and withstood umpteen body blows while still supporting our leader Nick Clegg. Given our background as the "awkward squad", who argue about anything and everything, this is extraordinary and very refreshing.

2. One doesn't have to agree with everything the coalition government does, to support it generally

The mistake that I made at first was that it was "all or nothing" with the coalition government. - That one had to support everything the government does, or not support it at all. In fact, it's obvious, as I now realise, that no human being can agree with everything the government does and it is impossible to defend every government act. However, it is reasonable to have a cut-off somewhat below total agreement with every coalition act, which resembles reasonable support.

3. Radical things done in the early days of a government can be overlooked

In 1997 it was independence for the Bank of England with the incoming Labour government. For this government it was the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011. Really, radical, 'generational-shift' pieces of legislation, enacted early in government honeymoons. Everyone forgets about them. And everyone takes them for granted and doesn't realise how radical and welcome they are. Look to the early 1990s and you'll see news bulletins repeatedly talking about political motivated shenanighans over the interest rate and when the next election will be held. We don't have that now. Thank goodness. Not only have those changes led to a more stable political environment, but they have also led to a less economically volatile situation in the UK.

Previously Published:

Stephen Tall: Stronger policy development and campaigning on issues that matter to the public (AKA where's our liberal equivalent of the benefits cap?)

Mark Valladares: Better party communications responding to the realities of governing

Gareth Epps: Government: What's Occurrin?

Nick Thornsby: Making a success of coalition government as a concept

Caron Lindsay: That old "walk a mile in each others' shoes" thing works

Louise Shaw: One member, one vote for all party elections

Mark Pack: The invisible ministers should up their game, or be sacked

Robin McGhee: We should organise ministers better

Rob Parsons: Understand the mechanics of government

Richard Morris: Make the red lines deeper and wider

Bill le Breton: The Open Coalition and Its Enemies

Patrick Murray: Make sure our policies are reflected in our manifesto

David Allen: If It Won't Work, Walk

Joe Otten: Government is hard

Richard Flowers: The Economy (it's too soon to say)