5.11.2010 By CK Hunter
Peer predicts ‘many Lib Dem laws’ in Cameron coalition
A former Welsh Liberal Democrat leader predicts many of his party’s policies will be enacted in their coalition government with the Conservatives.
Lord Carlile said that while much work lay ahead, there was goodwill between the two parties.
The former Montgomeryshire MP said new Prime Minister David Cameron was acknowledging Lib Dem aspirations.
But Lord Kinnock, the former Labour leader, said a Conservative-Lib Dem government would be unstable.
Lord Carlile, who as Alex Carlile was an MP from 1983 to 1997, said he believed a “significant” number of Lib Dem policies would be put into effect.
He told BBC News: “I was very encouraged to hear in David Cameron’s language that he was giving full recognition to the aspirations of the Liberal Democrats.”
“There’s a great deal of work to do, but the goodwill is certainly there.”
Lord Carlile said Mr Cameron had spoken of focusing on changing the way politics is done, which he took to be changing the voting system.
He also believed the new prime minister had given a hint that the new government would recognise the aspiration of a £10,000 lower tax limit.
Earlier, before Gordon Brown resigned and was replaced by Mr Cameron as prime minister, Lembit Opik, another former Welsh Lib Dem leader, had warned that any “fudge” over electoral reform could see his party reject a coalition with the Conservatives.
Alternative Vote system
Mr Opik, who was Montgomeryshire MP until losing his seat last week, had said: “If it looks like electoral reform is being kicked into the long grass as a fudge I don’t think the party will accept it.”
The Conservatives have offered the Lib Dems a referendum on changing the voting system from the existing first past the post system to the Alternative Vote system (AV).
Under AV, voters rank candidates in a constituency. If no-one lands 50% of votes, the candidate finishing last is eliminated and their second preferences are awarded to the remaining candidates. This continues until one candidates passes the 50% mark.
A meeting of Liberal Democrat MPs and peers was held on Tuesday evening.
Another Lib Dem peer, Lord Roberts of Conwy, had also said earlier: “We must get electoral reform and a package to tackle the economy in the best possible way.”
The peer said he had spoken to some Lib Dem MPs and that “as long as there is a reasonable opportunity of getting electoral reform” then Mr Clegg should get their backing.
Lord Roberts said he hoped MPs and peers would have the opportunity to decide what sort of alliance with the Conservatives would take place, whether a full coalition or another arrangement.
Before Mr Cameron arrived at No 10, Jenny Randerson, the Lib Dem AM for Cardiff Central, said her party had a responsibility to play its part in ensuring Britain was in a firm and stable position to face the most difficult economic and fiscal times in a generation.
Lord Kinnock said earlier in the day that a Tory-Lib Dem coalition government would be “unstable”.
He said: “You would get sufficient Liberal members of parliament who have deep objections to the Tories’ approach to deficit reductions, certainly the speed and the scale of cuts that they’d want to make, and deeply convinced opposition to any move away from the current system to electoral reform.
“So stability could not be guaranteed in those circumstances.”
The alternative idea of an alliance between Labour, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, the Scottish National Party and others, advanced by Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, had been criticised by others such as former Home Secretary David Blunkett, who referred to it as “a coalition of the defeated”.