Daily Mail slowly catching up with realities of coalition government

by Stephen Tall on May 22, 2010

To mock the Daily Mail is, however satisfying and amusing, to largely miss the point: it is its own best self-parody. Today’s a case in point, as it dawns on the paper that a coalition government actually does mean the Lib Dems have some power. Devoid of irony, the Mail explodes with outrage:

Yes, that’s right: quite outrageously the leader of the party which won 23% of the national vote is set to have more power than an unelected peer. What is the country coming to?

If you can get past your FFS-sigh at the Mail’s headline, the story contains some interesting and (for Lib Dems) reassuring insights contained within the coalition agreement that demonstrates Nick Clegg’s DPM role is definitely not in name only, and that the Lib Dems have earned some key power-sharing rights:

  • “chair an all-powerful Cabinet committee on domestic affairs, putting him in overall charge of formulating reforms of health, education and policing”;
  • “all of George Osborne’s Budget decisions as Chancellor will ‘require consultation’ with his Lib Dem Treasury Chief Secretary David Laws”;
  • “Mr Osborne [is barred] from consulting the Prime Minister over a Budget measure without also speaking to Mr Clegg”;
  • “Mr Clegg now enjoys a formal entitlement to know about everything going on in Government and to be contacted in the event of disputes”;
  • “No Lib Dem minister or whip can be removed by Mr Cameron without ‘full consultation with the Deputy Prime Minister’”;
  • “the future make-up of the Government front bench must remain ‘approximately in proportion to the size of the two parliamentary-parties’” – and “Mr Cameron will select new ministers, but only after consulting Mr Clegg”; and
  • “Mr Clegg has also been allowed to serve, or nominate another member of the Government to serve, on every Cabinet committee and sub-committee”.

As the Mail concludes with baffled indignation:

The deal makes Mr Clegg by far the most powerful deputy prime minister of modern times – eclipsing Labour’s John Prescott, and more influential even than former First Secretary Lord Mandelson.