The political economy of the UK has been affected hugely by the decision of the Liberal Democrats to enter a coalition with David Cameron. In 2010, the Liberal Democrats could have opted to try for a ‘progressive alliance’ with the Labour Party. Andrew Adonis has shown that the Liberal Democrats had an antipathy to Gordon Brown and were eager to start cutting the deficit as soon as possible. He has also revealed that the Bank of England may have lent its support to George Osborne’s rhetoric in relation to fiscal rectitude during the crucial talks.
Adonis has illustrated how the centre party of Charles Kennedy had ceased to exist. The party had been largely taken over by politicians who backed liberal ‘solutions’ to a crisis of neoliberalism. They were even prepared to ignore Conservative hostility to the European Union for a few seats at the top table. The contradictions in the coalition permitted the Conservatives to marry elements of social liberalism with dysfunctional economics.
The pro-European Liberal Democrats failed to secure the constitutional changes they craved. Punished for opportunism by the electorate, they could only watch as the Brexit drama unfolded. The budget deficit persisted despite the harsh Conservative medicine, but it should not be thought that the Liberal Democrats possessed an alternative economic strategy. The Liberal Democrats had agreed:
“The new government will ensure that the health of the public finances is restored as quickly as possible while taking no action to jeopardize the recovery. In light of market concerns further and faster action on the deficit will be taken; this will include some in-year cuts.”