In a decision that has surprised many, the liberal-left Independent newspaper has endorsed a continuation of the current Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government after Thursday’s election.
Saying that Ed Miliband’s Labour Party has no chance of forming a government without the help of the SNP, the paper argues that it would be preferable to keep the current government in power rather than having Britain governed by the “wrecking ball” of the Scottish Nationalists.
In an editorial, the paper says:
A hung parliament is certain this week. For all his talk of no deals with the SNP, Miliband is bound to rely on that party to get his legislative programme through. This would be a disaster for the country, unleashing justified fury in England at the decisive influence of MPs who – unlike this title – do not wish the Union to exist. If that were to be the case while Labour were the second biggest party either in terms of vote share, or seats – or both – how could Labour govern with authority? They could not. Any partnership between Labour and the SNP will harm Britain’s fragile democracy. For all its faults, another Lib-Con Coalition would both prolong recovery and give our kingdom a better chance of continued existence.
This title casts no vote. But we prize strong, effective government, consider nationalism guilty until proven innocent, and say that if the present Coalition is to get another chance, we hope it is much less conservative, and much more liberal.
The paper praises the many “liberal” policies of the current government and singles out Nick Clegg for special praise:
Many of the good things the Coalition has done are owed to the Liberal Democrats. Nick Clegg may not personally recover from the tuition fees debacle, despite being right (eventually). But history will record him as the man who turned a party of protest into one of government. As a principled, effective politician who could hold another Coalition together, we hope he keeps his seat in Sheffield Hallam. He has confounded his Tory critics, held his party together, been a fine advertisement for a European kind of government, and championed the green agenda just as Tories abandoned it. On raising the income tax threshold, the pupil premium, early years learning and apprenticeships the Lib Dems have been a force for progress, and if he returns to government Mr Clegg should insist on being Education Secretary.
Like fellow left-wing publication, the New Statesman, the Independent is also scathing of Labour leader Ed Miliband:
… in key areas his policy prescriptions suggest a party unready for government. Tampering with tuition fees would harm universities while benefiting wealthy rather than poor students. Taxing property more is smart, but rent controls won’t work and a mansion tax is a centralising, blunt tool: much better to reform council tax instead. And though he is right not to flirt with leaving the EU, far too many businesses of all sizes fear Labour.