Thursday, 19 August 2010

100 Radical Days

It was never going to be easy.  The coalition Government has faced a set of challenges largely without parallel in post war history.

In May the Government was faced with a record deficit; an economy gradually getting back to its knees following the deepest recession since records began; plummeting faith in the political system; widening inequality; stalling social mobility; and seemingly intractable social problems.

100 days is always a slightly arbitrary time to judge a Government’s record.  However, it is actually crucial – the political capital of any Government is at its highest at the beginning.  It marks the perfect time to get things done.

  On May 9th, I called for a ‘coalition of the progressive centre.’ I argued that:
“With the support of the Liberal Democrats, a Conservative-Liberal coalition of the progressive centre can deliver the radical economic, political and social reform the country needs.”

I believe that the coalition has, so far, lived up to those lofty expectations.  It has governed in a progressive and radical manner.  Already, in 100 breathless days, the coalition has:
  • Dealt with one of the biggest fiscal catastrophes the country has faced since the war.  Faced with a choice of setting out a credible plan to pay down a record budget deficit or letting our domestic policies be placed at the whim of global financiers (as Greece, Spain and Portugal have found), we wisely opted for the former;
  • Laid the framework for renewed growth and renewed job creation;
  • Placed as a priority delivering social justice and enhancing social mobility;
  • Created a bonfire of restrictions on civil liberties.  Even after 100 days, this Government has claim to be the most civil libertarian since the war – a welcome change after New Labour’s social authoritarianism;
  • Set out the biggest programme of constitutional change for decades.  House of Lords reform is, after a century and more of dithering, set to be achieved.  Governmental transparency looks set to improve both visibility and performance of Government.  Ideas of recall and referenda (albeit slightly too limited at this early stage – as Douglas Carswell argues) have at last been injected into the body politic.  Indeed, the cooperation across party lines in itself is something that most people outside of the political class have welcomed;
  • Already decentralised power to local people to an unprecedented extent.  Hopefully more decentralisation will follow;
  • Instituted a Great Repeal Bill – with the aim of repealing unnecessary legislation that impinges on freedom;
  • Unveiled an evidence based policy on prisons that has more in common with traditional Conservative views than the authoritarianism of recent years.
After thirteen years of small ‘c’ conservative Government, it comes as a breath of fresh air to have a Government prepared to make the brave and radical decisions that are in the national interest.  Despite the heckling from nay sayers, it is the coalition that has made this possible.
The Economist has described the Government as a “radical force.”  I am confident that 100 radical, progressive days will become five radical, progressive years.

This blog was originally posted at

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