Monday, 6 August 2012

Devonwall - glad the threat is gone, but little to celebrate

I could be gloating about today's announcement by Nick Clegg that Lib Dem MPs will be voting against the new boundaries (including Devonwall) thereby all but ensuring that they won't be in place for the next election. I predicted that the next general election would be fought on the same boundaries as the last way back in September last year.

The fact that I'm not is for two reasons. First, because the relief may only be temporary. Clegg has said that the changes to constituencies should be stopped only until after the next election. It may well be that any pause will mean their abandonment, but it could equally be that we will have to fight this battle again in a few years time.

Second, this victory comes at a heavy price. We haven't seen off Devonwall because it is and always was a ridiculous notion that ignores centuries of history and culture and divides communities. It has been lost in a revenge attack by Nick Clegg on the Conservatives for their failure to back the coalition agreement on Lords reform. Cameron couldn't deliver his troops and so Clegg has made explicit that the Lib Dems will scupper a move which would make it easier for the Tories to secure an overall majority in the future.

I hope that the coalition survives. For all that I hate some of things that it has done, I still think it's the best chance of securing the economic recovery that is the number one priority of the country. I also think that we have to be a mature enough democracy to expect two parties to be able to work together for the common good in cases where no one wins an overall majority at an election. If the leaders starts chucking their toys now, then it makes a future coalition of any combination more difficult to achieve.

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