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19.09.11

Coalition divorce ‘inevitable’- Tim Farron

Liberal Democrat party president Tim Farron has indicated that the Coalition is unlikely to last past the next general election, calling it a “temporary” arrangement.

Speaking at the party conference, he also criticised the Conservatives on several aspects of policy, including their stance on taxes.

Farron, MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale and a popular figure among the party’s left-leaning grassroots, admitted that while going into coalition with the Conservatives was the “right thing for the country”, the party’s reputation had suffered as a result. He said: “I'm in no doubt that being in coalition with the Tories has tainted us, our identity is blurred, many who support us are confused.

“If it is a marriage, well it is a good-natured one but I am afraid it is temporary. We're staying together for the sake of the kids, or the special advisers as we call them. I don't want to upset you and it is not going to happen for three or four years but I am afraid divorce is inevitable.”

Under the new fixed-term rules agreed by the Coalition, it will last until 2015 except in special circumstances. One of the provisions of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Bill, which has just passed the Lords and is being sent for Royal Assent, is that an election can only be called early if a motion of no confidence was passed in the Government and no alternative administration could be formed, or if at least two-thirds of MPs approved calls for an early election. Historically, a Prime Minister has been able to ‘go to the country’ at a time purely of their own choosing – usually whenever it is most politically advantageous to do so.

Speaking out about the differing approaches to taxing the rich, Farron said: “The super-rich do not need to go down Ealing high street nicking TVs in order to demonstrate their contempt for society.

“They demonstrate their contempt by not paying taxes. And let's be honest, we are sharing power with a bunch of people who think that this is OK.

“At a time when 90% of the country is struggling to pay the rent or the mortgage,
giving a 10p tax cut to those who need it the least, would not just be economically witless, it would be morally repugnant.

“The wealthy will continue to pay the largest share of the cost of our recovery so that we can protect the least well off. The principle that the rich pay more does not come from a desire to penalise the wealthy, but from a desire to ensure that our recovery must be a fair recovery.”

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