Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a very dignified exit from No 10 Downing Street last night as it came apparent that David Cameron’s Conservatives were about to enter into a hard coalition with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats.
Gordon Brown spoke passionately from the heart and conceded that he had failed to engage the nation during their Election Campaign and that he had his frailties.
As he walked down Downing Street with his wife Sarah and their two boys towards the official cars that would take him first to see the Queen to tender his resignation and then away to the airport to board a plane to Scotland and out of the political front-line, for good.
Enter stage left, David Cameron who had been asked to form a government by the queen, who arrived at No 10 Downing Street to a mixture of cheers, jeers and boos.
Mr Cameron, our new Prime Minister, the first Conservative to hold the office since 1997, announced that he would form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.
Some of the Liberal Democrats were scathing last night about the Labour Party’s lack of commitment to the talks between their two parties. Labour negotiators were accused of wanting to go into opposition. As a result the Lib Dems were pushed toward the Conservatives.
News circulated last night that the Liberal Democrats had driven a hard bargain. Nick Clegg was named as Deputy Prime Minister. Four other senior Lib Dems are to take up seats in the coalition cabinet. It will be the first time in 70 years that they will hold positions of real power in the government.
Predictions so far suggest that the key Cabinet positions will go to:
George Osborne [Conservative] – Chancellor
William Hague [Conservative] – Foreign Secretary
Liam Fox [Conservative] – Defence Secretary
Andrew Lansley [Conservative] – Health Secretary.
Danny Alexander [Liberal Democrats] – Scottish Secretary
Chris Huhne [Liberal Democrats] – Enery/Climate Change Secretary.
Vince Cable [Liberal Democrat] – Business/Banking Secretary.
Theresa May [Conservative] – Home Secretary
Ken Clarke [Conservative] – Justice Secretary
The coalition policy is taking shape. The BBC is reporting that the key points from the manifestos that will form the government programme are:
* There will be a “significant acceleration” of efforts to reduce the budget deficit – including £6bn of spending reductions this year. An emergency Budget will take place within 50 days
* Plans for five-year, fixed-term parliaments, meaning the next election would not take place until May 2015
* The Lib Dems have agreed to drop plans for a “mansion tax” on properties costing more than £2m, while the Conservatives have ditched their pledge to raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1m
* The new administration will scrap part of Labour’s planned rise in National Insurance and will work towards raising income tax thresholds for lower earners
* A pledge to have a referendum on any further transfer of powers to the EU and a commitment from the Lib Dems not to adopt the euro for the lifetime of the next Parliament
* The Lib Dems have agreed to Tory proposals for a cap on non-EU migration
* The Conservatives will recognise marriage in the tax system, but Lib Dems will abstain in Commons vote
* The Lib Dems will drop opposition to a replacement for Britain’s Trident nuclear missiles but the programme will be scrutinised for value for money
* There will be a referendum on moving to the Alternative Vote system and enhanced “pupil premium” for deprived children as Lib Dems demanded
The Labour party are now contemplating life without Gordon Brown. They have elected for a period in opposition to allow them to regroup and rebuild. There are some very difficult decisions and cuts to come in the not to distant future. The Labour Party have obviously reached the conclusion that it is better for the Tories to preside over such matters.
Opposition may well be the position the Labour Group on Stoke-on-Trent City council take, even with 26 councillors. It is unlikely that Labour and the Conservatives enter into a coalition locally as both respective parties executives are likely to be against such a move.
Nationally The Labour Party are about to embark on a difficult journey. They are about to elect a new leader.
Alan Johnson will not contest it as he has come out in support of David Miliband.
The other key candidates are, Ed Balls, John Cruddas, Harriet Harman, Jack Straw and Andy Burnham.
The party’s NEC will meet in the not to distant future to agree the timetable, process and procedures for electing a new leader.