CentreForum, (largely in the shape of Julian Astle), has long pondered where political parties are on the Liberal spectrum.* Now we have released a new paper entitled “A Lib Con trick”, that by identifying those policy areas where the Lib Dems and Conservatives converge or diverge, assesses how the two parties might relate to each other in the future.
I don’t need to spell out how significant this may be, given the current state of the polls and post-May possibilities in Westminster.
Julian has an op-ed in CommentIsFree. As he writes:
In the early days of Cameron’s leadership, the prospect of a thawing in Lib Dem-Tory relations looked plausible. The election of a “liberal Conservative” should have increased the likelihood of meaningful co-operation between the two parties . . . but … The Lib Dem view is that the Conservatives – with their regressive inheritance tax policy, their ardent Euroscepticism, their failure to translate their rhetorical commitment to the environment into hard policy, and their refusal to countenance far-reaching constitutional and political reform – are simply not as liberal as they claim
However, this does not mean ‘business as usual’ oppositionism from the Lib Dems. The rules of the game are about to change dramatically.
*We are a policy think tank, and as wonks we don’t regard either party as the epitome of classical liberalism. This sort of research is not “how well do the Conservatives measure up to the Liberal Democrat ideal?”
PS Sir Samuel Brittan has written about Nominal Growth Targetting in today’s column at the FT, including this great para:
I had originally thought that there should be a period of reflection on such questions before installing a new regime to replace or supplement inflation targets. But I have been impelled to a sense of urgency by Giles Wilkes’s Centre Forum paper on the Bank of England’s policy of quantitative easing, “Credit where it’s due”. He has a number of sensible proposals for making this easing “a more effective stimulant and not just a tonic for the City”. But at the top of his list is an explicit target for “nominal growth”. This might counteract fears that the easing will be withdrawn before it has become effective – and I would add depressing talk of higher bank capital ratios and national fiscal tightening. Something needs to be done to create headroom for economic recovery.