The UK Liberal Democrat Party held its brief Spring conference last weekend. As the Lib Dems currently share government with the Conservatives unsurprisingly there was some discord. Much of the Lib Dems unease surrounds the NHS reform bill.
Veteran Liberal Democrat Shirley Williams was brought out to try and persuade the rank and file to support the government Bill. According to Dame Shirley the Bill has undergone many changes since it was first announced. The Bill is now said to be beyond recognition. As such Dame Shirley was adamant that it was now a good thig and should be given Lib Dem support. The rank and file begged to differ.
In the end a compromise of sorts was reached."Delegates endorsed a motion backing the policy. But, defying Mr Clegg, they refused to order Lib Dem peers to vote for the changes in Parliament". Whether the Lib Dems are more concerned about the effects of the Health and Social Care Bill or what it could do to their political support is not clear. What is abundantly clear is that they are not happy with the Bill. In parliament and the Commons the Bill has been amended time and time again by the Lib Dems.
Once again Nick Clegg is in a tricky position. He had hoped that the Lib Dem delegates would now support the amended Bill and put and end to months of wrangling.
Nick's conference woes continued with his tax plans. A so called "tycoon tax" had seemed a viable alternative to the proposed Mansion Tax. When Nick unveiled his tycoon tax proposals to conference though he rattled Business Secretary Vince Cable. Mr Cable had been kept in the dark about this tax and it directly challenges his planned property taxes.
Next week the UK will hear the Chancellor's Spring Budget. It is not expected to include the Mansion Tax. With a front bench of parliament that is full of Millionaires it could look to the general public as if they are simply looking after each other. That is of course unless Chancellor Osborne has a fair well though out budget to announce.
The problem for Nick Clegg and the LIberal Democrats is that any Government negatives reflect badly on them. Right now it is hard to imagine that the Lib Dems could ever gain office again.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog