Danny Alexander had reason to be very chuffed this morning when his party gave its overwhelming support to a motion he tabled, praising George Osborne’s Plan A for the economy. The motion also welcomed the recent infrastructure announcements from the government, underlining that these investments were possible as a result of the government’s ‘hard-won fiscal credibility’.
This motion was about reminding Liberal Democrats of the cause the coalition had united over, and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury took care to present Labour as the villains in this, insisting that ‘Labour is wrong on the economy’. But that didn’t stop some activists pushing a rival amendment — which was overwhelmingly knocked back by activists — calling for the government to abandon its fiscal mandate and pushing for what it called ‘a change in direction of economic policy’. The difficulty of negotiating a workable coalition with Labour in 2015 was clear too: the activists who spoke were damning of that party’s economic record.
But even putting that amendment to a vote demonstrated just how united this party is over the economy, even if activists are concerned about cuts in certain areas. It allowed Tim Farron to give a quick and energetic intervention in which he told delegates it would be ‘flipping crackers’ to change course to a different plan. Farron received a stronger round of applause than Alexander, despite the pair saying much the same thing. New business minister Jo Swinson also took to the stage to articulate her support for the government’s plan. Danny’s motion was carried with overwhelming support.