Lib Dems: Planning on being in Government?

Phil Stanier

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With the Lib Dems bumbling along in the polls with single figures, you might be forgiven for writing off their electoral chances. However, with the Tories failing to win broad appeal, Labour’s lack of impact (Ed Miliband – need we say more?) and the uncertainty that the rise of UKIP and the Greens is causing – the Lib Dems could well hold the balance of power again.

As the Lib Dems have no chance of forming a government on their own we’ve scored the likelihood of their proposed policies getting the nod from Labour and the Tories.

300,000 new affordable homes
This is the highest target of the ‘main 3’ parties. There are a few neat mechanisms for reaching this, like an ‘affordable housing bank’, offering low cost loans to developers. The Conservatives might try to water down the target, while Labour would find it hard not to match a higher target for affordable housing.
Conservative match: 4/10
Labour match: 9/10

Allow councils to borrow against their assets
A long standing Lib Dem policy of allowing boroughs more financial leeway didn’t find it into the 2010 Coalition agreement (and won’t make it into a 2015 accord). Labour rhetoric has previously been supportive of the idea, but they’ve been rowing back severely on it lately. In short it’s unlikely to happen.
Conservative match: 0/10
Labour match: 2/10

Local electoral reform
Having failed to end first past the post in Westminster, the price of a coalition with the Lib Dems could well be local electoral reform. A proportional system in boroughs would fundamentally alter the political dynamic and secure permanent representation on most councils for the Lib Dems, Greens and UKIP. Labour won’t want it and the Tories are likely to fiercely resist (although it could have the advantage of loosening Labour’s stranglehold on the northern boroughs).
Conservative match: 4/10
Labour match: 0/10

The traditional Liberal ideas of local (government) empowerment and electoral reform could significantly change the political and development landscape we operate in if the Lib Dems perform well in May’s elections.

Phil Stanier