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By Tim Montgomerie
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The Times' Sam Coates has performed a great public service this morning by listing FIFTY unresolved tensions between the Coalition partners. It's behind the paywall here (£). The list is a big reminder of the huge cost of not winning the last election and having to be in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. For those of you who aren't Times subscribers here are ten from Sam Coates' list:

  1. Will the Lib Dems stop David Cameron exercising the veto during negotiations over the next seven-year EU budget, which some Tories want to do?
  2. Can the coalition agree planning powers strengthening the ability of communities to block onshore wind turbines?
  3. Will the Lib Dems agree to Michael Gove’s blueprint to overhaul GCSEs, given that they oppose a “two-tier” exam system?
  4. Will Tories be able to agree on tax breaks for married couples? And will they then be able to get it through the Commons, given Lib Dem opposition?
  5. Will Tories succeed in getting greater restrictions on non-EU immigration in the face of opposition from Vince Cable?
  6. Will the Lib Dems relent in their opposition to any kind of airport expansion in the South East of England?
  7. Will the coalition go ahead with regional or local pay variations demanded by the Treasury but opposed by Clegg?
  8. Will deep-rooted divisions over “choice” block any meaningful progress to the next step of the Government’s Open Public Services plan?
  9. Will Lib Dems ensure that the McKay Commission, which is looking into the Tory manifesto question of whether the English should have sole say on English issues, end in a fudge?
  10. Will Tories win additional “Beecroft” supply side reforms such as reducing consultations on redundancy from 90 to 30 days?


Two other quick observations: Reading through the list is a reminder that the Liberal Democrats do more blocking than are blocked. Number 10 privately complains that coalition would be easier if Team Clegg came to the negotiating table with more ideas of its own and some horse-trading could then begin. Unfortunately, they don't. They come with lists of things they don't want to happen. Secondly, there are lots of things in the Coalition Agreement that the Lib Dems will never deliver. They include human rights reform, English votes for English laws and a recognition of marriage in the tax system. The wording on these promises was not dissimilar in bankability terms to the wording on Lords reform. But Lib Dems won't ultimately vote for them or allow them to be brought to vote. This needs to be remembered next time Nick Clegg says that he won't support boundary reform because backbench Tory MPs didn't endorse fifteen year elected terms for the House of Lords.

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