Jonathan Fryer

Lord Newby Is Extremely Bold

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 5th February, 2011

Filibustering Labour peers have totally pissed off Crossbenchers in the Upper Chamber with their efforts to block electoral reform legislation, according to Dick Newby, who was the guest speaker at last night’s (Friday’s) Annual Dinner of Putney Liberal Democrats. OK, that wasn’t quite the expression he used, but that was clearly his meaning. Thirty years on from the Limehouse Declaration, this former core SDP-ite could hardly have imagined just months ago that he would now be in a Coalition government with the Conservatives. However, he is as determined as most of his colleagues to make the arrangement work. He does not expect a general election before 2015, though he is sure that the two parties will fight on distinct manifestos then. Though Labour, understandably, have been concentrating on what they see as LibDem capitulations to the Conservatives, there are considerable ‘wins’ for the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition arrangement, Dick said — just look at the way Tory policy towards the EU has been moderated. The deficit reduction programme is being carried forward faster than the LibDems would have done on their own. But this is not a Liberal Democrat government. It is perhaps not surprising that people in Britain are still unused to the nature of coalition government. But it seems likely that they will have plenty of time to get used to it in the future, especially if the AV referendum in May produces a ‘Yes’ result, as current opinion polls suggest.

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