The Social Liberal Forum welcomes confirmation in the Independent on Sunday that there will be no new fixed coalition agreement for the second half of this parliament.
There is a lot more work to do on several bills currently passing through parliament – some of which, such as the Health and Social Care Bill, contain elements that we continue to find worrying. Others, for example implementation of the Vickers recommendations on banking, will require a concerted effort to pass into law. Now is not the time to plan a new raft of legislation.
The original Coalition Agreement was an impressive document, containing many elements of a Social Liberal agenda for government and demonstrating the benefits of compromise – both for Liberal Democrats and for the country.
However, it would not be appropriate to agree another full programme at this stage. Rather, we would like to see Conservatives and Liberal Democrats proposing their own ideas separately – as Nick Clegg did last week, with his welcome call for a further and faster rise in the income tax threshold. The two parties can then show how coalition works, positively, by examining each other’s ideas on their merits. We will support progressive social liberal measures, wherever they come from – and continue to oppose all measures that would widen the gap between rich and poor.
We believe that Social Liberal ideas are strong enough to attract consensus across government – and indeed across parliament – and we will continue to argue for them.