So the unthinkable has actually happened. The Tories are back in Number 10. I was so sure that the Lib Dems would end up in some form of coalition with Labour, even if it was agreed at the last minute. Gordon Brown’s resignation was, for me, a sure sign that a LibLab pact was about to be signed. I know I wasn’t alone in that belief.
And then the clanger. Nick Clegg had decided to bed down with the Tories and form a coalition. I was – quiet literally – speechless. This was quickly followed by a fair bit of choice language, then a sort of sadness. Acceptance. Of sorts.
Lib Dems were all over the TV last night, explaining how this was the best solution, and how it was a new kind of politics. Moving beyond confrontation and yah-boo politics, it was evidence of a new approach that was needed to fix the country’s finances.
But this evening, I’ve had my first look at the new-look cabinet and… I’m torn. I’m of course pleased to see Nick Clegg and Vince Cable at the cabinet table. Delighted that David Laws has a role that plays to his skills and experience. But these few reasonable characters seem to be greatly outnumbered by the ideologues around the table.
Iain Duncan Smith is looking after work and pensions. His evangelical approach to “repairing” society will have a misplaced believe that marriage is a cure-all at its heart. He has become progressively more right-wing since he was replaced as leader of the Conservative Party. If I was on benefits, I’d be very, very worried…
William Hague is the new Foreign Secretary, a man whose virulent anti-European rhetoric is like something from another age. It will take him less than a week to offend our European partners.
Teresa May is responsible for Equality. She has an appalling record on Gay rights and actively voted against the repeal of Section 28. I’m not alone in questioning her credentials as a voice for equality. According to Pink News:
Mrs May’s voting record on LGBT rights is mixed.
In 1998 she voted against equalising the age of consent and in 2000, she voted against the repeal of Section 28, legislation that banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by local government and schools.
In 2001 and 2002 she voted against gay couples jointly adopting children. In 2004, like much of the Conservative front bench, Mrs May did vote in favour of civil partnerships.
But in the same year, Mrs May didn’t attend Parliament for any of the four votes that led to the Gender Recognition Act.
In 2008 she voted in favour of a defeated bill which said that IVF rights should require a male role model- effectively discriminating against lesbian fertility rights.
I really, really want the Lib Dems to succeed in Government – I want them to demonstrate that they can implement their policy and rise above tribal politics. However, I don’t hold out much hope for their success when they’re surrounded by Teresa May, Iain Duncan Smith, Eric Pickles and their ilk.