Isabel Hardman

All three parties should publish ‘red lines’ for 2015 coalition negotiations

All three parties should publish 'red lines' for 2015 coalition negotiations
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Both Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg delivered speeches to their party faithful today about being realistic about 2015. Miliband's speech, briefed as 'tough', was the latest in his series of attempts to tell voters that they can trust him: he wouldn't borrow more than this government… well, no more 'day-to-day spending', which is his way of saying he would actually borrow more for capital projects. Clegg wanted to tell his councillors that they can't see May 2015 as the month when they all get to breathe a sigh of relief and return to their local authority fiefdoms without any of the inconvenience of their party being in national government too.

The Deputy Prime Minister is also planning to use the party's manifesto to set out clear 'red lines' for Coalition, in order to avoid a repeat of the tuition fees debacle. Sounds sensible, although the Times suggests he'll have another crack at electoral reform as one of those red lines.

If Clegg and co plan to publish a list of red lines, then surely Labour and the Tories will have to do so as well. Otherwise, the Lib Dems will give the impression of being kingmakers, which will enrage many in the two largest parties. David Cameron has already said that the EU referendum is one, but he should mirror Clegg by setting out his key principles. Coalition needs to change all three parties, not just the Lib Dems.