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Mel Stride

The Coalition - A year on

Mon 11 Jul 2011

By Mel Stride

The Coalition has reached its first anniversary. An inconclusive General Election saw Conservatives and Lib Dems unite at a time when our country was in real need of firm stable government. It was perhaps a sign of just how precarious our economic situation was that the arrangements to work together were hatched out in a matter of days and not long after a vigorous campaign in which both parties had sought to knock lumps out of each other. Coincident with this anniversary came the local elections, the AV referendum and a rather divergent set of election results for the two partners – for the Conservatives a gain in seats and a decisive win over AV – for the Lib Dems arguably the worst electoral hammering in their history and the probable end of their quest for electoral reform for a generation. Some wonder if under these circumstances the marriage can last.  The answer is that it will and here’s why.

Firstly, the same economic fragility that helped to propel our two parties together still remains and with any disintegration of the Coalition will almost certainly come a loss of confidence in the UK economy on the part of the financial markets and a consequent increase in interest rates – something that would hit mortgage holders, businesses and economic recovery alike.

Secondly, for neither party would an election (in the short term at least) be desirable – especially one against a background of the inevitable infighting that would surround a Coalition collapse. The Lib Dems would, on current showing, face electoral meltdown if there were a General Election now and the Conservatives, despite our ratings holding firm would quite possibly fail to win an outright majority against a Labour party that, whilst far from full health, has nonetheless come back from the dead.

There is another potent reason why I believe our government will endure – because for both parties there is a common purpose – one based not just on fixing the economy (vitally important though that is) – but on a clear agenda for the radical reform of public services. Education reform, for example, is seeing a huge growth in the number of Academies providing greater school freedoms, new free schools are being launched, discipline in the classroom being strengthened, the rigour of examinations sharpened, a greater emphasis on the more academic disciplines making a come back. The introduction of a pupil premium to benefit those from poorer backgrounds. Likewise Welfare is being completely overhauled so that it will always pay to work rather than to stay on benefits, those who choose not to work when they are able will face real sanctions and those who need help to work will be given proper support. There is of course much more besides but the point is that what is often lost in the speculation surrounding their occasional marital tiff is that this government is one with a clear and radical mission – a mission to which both parties are essentially committed.


When US Navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden at his compound 100 miles from the Pakistani capital, America underwent a collective catharsis for which she had waited a decade. The man behind 9-11 - in which more British sons and daughters died than in any other terrorist outrage – was shot dead and buried at sea - depriving him of the platform of a lengthy trial and his followers of a place of pilgrimage. I believe that this dramatic milestone along the road of America’s War on Terror has raised as many questions as it has answered. 

On the one hand the US has again illustrated her ability to execute a surgical approach to dealing with terrorism outside her shores – a strategy that has increasingly employed drones to take out Al- Qaeda militants. This capability is key to confronting the modern threat of internationalised and disparate terrorist organisations and it appears (with admittedly some controversy) to be working well.

On the other hand the Bin Laden mission was on Pakistani soil and without the prior notification of the Pakistani government. A fact that highlights the lack of trust between the two countries. America and her allies will take some convincing that the world’s most wanted man was living in a heavily guarded compound close to a Pakistani military base entirely unknown to the authorities.

It is too early to tell what Bin Laden’s death will mean but what is immediately clear is that it should serve to highlight the importance of a closer co-operation between the US, her allies and Pakistan. Our government’s recent aid for education in a country where poor schooling is arguably a major cause of Islamic extremism is therefore in my view absolutely vital. Bin Laden’s removal should give pause for thanks but not for complacency.

Other columns by Mel Stride

Busy right across the constituency - Tue 9 Nov 2021
Investing in local public services - Mon 2 Aug 2021
Corona - A year on - Mon 14 Jun 2021
Supporting our Local Communities in difficult times - Mon 1 Mar 2021
The PM’s first year - Thu 1 Oct 2020
Quizzing the PM - Tue 7 Jul 2020
It’s the economy, stupid! - Tue 11 Feb 2020
Vision for the Future - Mon 2 Dec 2019
Into the Cabinet - Thu 1 Aug 2019
Local Apprenticeships Matter - Fri 3 May 2019
Huge shot in the arm for our High Streets - Thu 24 Jan 2019
Reading - Thu 8 Nov 2018
EU - In or Out? - Mon 11 Mar 2013
Opportunity. - Tue 22 Jan 2013
Where do we begin? - Tue 13 Nov 2012
To Infinity and Beyond - Wed 5 Sep 2012
Working in Westminster - Sun 1 Jul 2012
A Better Balance - Thu 5 Jan 2012
Capital Shame - Mon 7 Nov 2011
Olympic Feat... - Sun 11 Sep 2011
Labour Dreams - Sun 17 Apr 2011
Now we really must mean Business - Thu 10 Mar 2011
Freedom and Responsibility - Sun 9 Jan 2011
A leader for Labour - Thu 4 Nov 2010
Education and Freedom - Mon 6 Sep 2010
Tradition and Words - Mon 6 Sep 2010
Mel Stride - Early Days in Westminster - Tue 6 Jul 2010
Mel Stride Conservative Parliamentary Candidate on The Big Society - Mon 3 May 2010
A look back over my years as Conservative parliamentary candidate and contributor to The Cottage - Sun 28 Feb 2010
Building the homes of the Future means giving Power to the People - Thu 3 Dec 2009
Early memories... - Wed 4 Nov 2009
As General Franco lay dying... - Tue 20 Oct 2009

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