Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Friday, 13 May 2011

Get ready for a general election in 2013, 2 years earlier than expected. This is my verdict on the events of the past few days and their likely impact on the coalition government which is supposed to run 5 years.
It is still very much in the national interest for the coalition to continue. We have to get to grips with our devastating deficit of £140 billion a year and to get the economy moving strongly again. This is clearly work in progress and at least one more year, probably two, will be required to do this. We also have to see vital reforms to public services embedded.
But the reality is that after the outcome of last week's local elections and referendum on AV the cracks in the coalition are in danger of becoming chasms. Understandably the ordinary Lib Dem member is wondering how further electoral disasters can be avoided. There is now a major operation underway at the highest levels of government to smooth over the cracks, and this will be successful in the short term. But major obstacles lie ahead, not least House of Lords reform about which Liberal Democrats are enthusiastic and we are at best luke warm (if it ain't broke don't fix it), real differences over the Human Rights Act, our attitude to Europe plus more elections next year which are likely to be equally tricky for our coalition partners.
The Deputy Prime Minister is understandably demanding more concessions to demonstrate the alleged difference that they are making in government. The mood of the Conservative Parliamentary party is resolutely against more concessions.
The picture is further complicated because all constituency boundaries are about to be reviewed to equalise the votes between larger seats in the south and smaller seats in northern towns where electorates of 55,000 are not uncommon. This process is likely to remove the inbuilt bias against the Conservative party and deliver an extra 20 blue seats but will not be in place until 2014.
The first year of the coalition was always going to be the easiest and it may well be downhill from here on in. Every effort will be made from the top to keep the project on track, in the national interest, but given the hostile landscape, I find it inconceivable to think that it could last another four years.
Politics in this country has never been so fascinating, don't blink or you will miss it.

posted by Gary @ 08:05