Scottish and Welsh Secretaries in a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition

The complexion of the new UK Government may well soon become clear.  But it’s already evident that a Conservative-Lib Dem alliance would have significant difficulties on territorial matters, with modest numbers of MPs from either Scotland or Wales, and having to deal with governments of different political parties as well.  (The alternative arrangement would also have problems, but of a different sort.)

That limited mandate increases the need for the UK Government to tread carefully and have a coherent overall view of how it proposes to manage relations between the various parts of the UK.  That increases the case for a single Secretary of State, whether based in his or her own department (as I argued earlier HERE), or attached to the Cabinet Office (as recommended just before the election by the Commons Welsh Affairs Committee).

If the current negotiations result in a coalition, there will be questions of which party gets which Cabinet posts, as well as the terms of the coalition agreement.  If that happens, there will be strong argument for that post to go to a Lib Dem rather than a Conservative.  This would be a win for both parties.  Devolution is a cause the Lib Dems (and before their creation, the Liberal Party) embraced long before it was fashionable.  It would enable the Lib Dems to show that they had a key role to play on constitutional matters, helping them advance their programme for a federal UK.  It would also enable the Conservatives to minimise the scope for party-political tensions fuelling territorial confrontation, in circumstances which are bound to be fraught and where the SNP has already clearly signalled its hostility toward the Conservatives.  This might also get round some of the personnel issues that the Conservatives are said to have.  It’s an area where a Lib Dem minister would positively serve both parties’ interests.

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1 Comment

Filed under Conservatives, Intergovernmental relations, Lib Dems, Scotland, UK elections, Wales, Whitehall

One response to “Scottish and Welsh Secretaries in a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition

  1. Pingback: The new UK Government’s devolution policy « Devolution Matters

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