Coalition with The Tories – A steep learning curve for the Lib Dems
"Next time we will do it differently" was the definitive message from Nick Harvey MP, addressing guests in Crediton recently.
The North Devon MP who was recently honoured with a knighthood was addressing guests at the Central Devon constituency, Liberal Democrat dinner in Crediton.
The central plank of his speech was the coalition and how the coalescence of the parties was seen by both the press and wider public. Mr Harvey admitted that the Lib Dems had missed a trick in their post-election preparations and that we should learn from our experiences this time around .
Mr Harvey enthusiastically told the audience "our emergence as a party the public wanted to sort out the economic mess was gratifying, it was only when we opened the books we realised what dire state the country's finances were in. We were a little taken aback …….the Tories had been preparing for every eventuality over the preceding years in opposition whereas we were government 'virgins' and our partners took full advantage of the fact at the coalition negotiating table."
He admitted there had been slightly more compromise than he would have liked in the final agreement but in a crisis, compromise must play its part. The former Armed Forces Minister added his support to fight controversial plans for regional pay and the idea of workers giving up employment rights in return for equity stakes in their employers businesses. He described it as 'turning back the clock a century - hard won rights must not be given up for what could be a very short-lived financial benefit" he told the gathering.
Giving an insider view on Andrew Lansley's health reforms Mr Harvey reported that during a conversation with his fellow ministerial colleague Paul Birstow. Mr Birstow had said "if you think the final bill was awful you should have seen the first one!"