6 September 2012

Reshuffle reflections

With the dust settled on the cabinet reshuffle it is clear that the 'refreshed' cabinet makes two policy changes more likely.  Firstly, the Tories are in the process of u-turning on a third Heathrow runway and the moving of Justine Greening makes this much easier.  The sacking of Lib Dem Nick Harvey - leaving defence a Tory only department - will surely mean stopping a replacement for trident becomes almost impossible.

What these two policy issues show, however, is a fundamental failing in the way the coalition operates.  In normal circumstances the Lib Dems would surely be campaigning on these issues and using the opportunity of motions in the Commons to flush out supporters of both propositions - on Tory and Labour benches.

But the coaltion agreement doesn't allow the party to do so - it is for House of Commons business purposes effectively a single party. 

In council chambers up and down the country where two or more parties share administration normal competitive politics isn't put on hold between coalition partners.  Council meetings are used to expose weaknesses in opponents stances and promote distinctive positions of individual parties. 

A similar change in the rules of engagement for the coalition parties is now desperately needed - moving a few indentikit politicians between portfolios doesn't address the need for a more flexible working arrangement between the Lib Dems and the Tories.

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