Mark Pack: We are now facing sobering reality of sharing power

Share
Related Topics

"Just heard a rumour that Charles Kennedy will defect to Labour as soon as they find the WMDs in Iraq". So tweeted Liberal Democrat councillor Nick Barlow over the weekend, summarising one of the reasons why the story of Charles Kennedy's defection to Labour never seemed credible.

But while the story itself is, as Kennedy himself put it, "the silliest of silly season stories", there is no doubt the Liberal Democrats are in unchartered waters. Nick Clegg has given the party something members never expected to happen any time soon: power.

It is a double-edged sword. On the up side, it is no longer a matter of the Liberal Democrats making 101 proposals in Parliament and hoping that, one day, one of the other parties would take one up and claim it as their own. On the down side, as we did not win the election ourselves, we are in a government with many members from another party and many of whose policies are not our own.

I have been around almost a third of the Liberal Democrat local parties in London over the last few weeks, talking at events, helping at by-elections and so on, and there has been a common pattern of people's comments. Concern over some of the Conservative policies the coalition is implementing; leavened by delight at seeing progress on the particular Liberal Democrat concerns dear to their heart, such as the environment, civil liberties, Pupil Premium or political reform.

As a result, my thesaurus is now well-worn at the page containing the word "pensive", which is perhaps the best one-word summary of the mood. The non-Liberal Democrat policies the coalition is implementing are a mixed bag. Some are better than were the party's own policies. Some clearly are not ones a Liberal Democrat government would ever consider. That is the reality of coalition government.

Where the balance may go wrong is if members feel the party concedes too much in policy negotiations to stay in power.

In the Seventies, the then Liberal MP John Pardoe wrote: "Without political power, Liberal principles and policies will remain in the wings... [but] we must never clutch the cloak of establishment too close around us."

There is much wisdom in those words. In the meantime, plenty of those principles are finally being implemented by the Government.

The writer is co-editor of the website Liberal Democrat Voice ( www.LibDemVoice.org)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
New SNP MP Mhairi Black distinguished herself in Westminster straight away when she made herself a chip butty in the canteen  

The SNP adventure arrives in Westminister - but how long before these new MPs go native?

Katy Guest
The Public Accounts Committee found widespread concern among civil servants that they would be victimised if they spoke out about wrongdoing  

Nikileaks explained: The sad thing about the Nicola Sturgeon saga is that it makes leaks less likely

Jane Merrick
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?