Martin Bright

Time for a National Government? (Revisited)

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If there is one lesson to be drawn from the television debates, it is that people have grown tired of politicians slagging each other off. David Cameron promised an end to "yah-boo" politics, but the institution of parliament makes this near-impossible in practice.

However, while parliament is out of action, there just might be the possibility of creating something genuinely ground-breaking: a government of national unity.

I first suggested this idea in the New Statesman during the 2008 Labour Party conference: "If the financial crisis is as serious as many in the government suggest, then extraordinary times require bold solutions. There is an argument for saying that the Prime Minister should invite David Cameron and Nick Clegg to Downing Street and tell them the time has come for all good men to come to the aid of the country. A national government would allow Brown to bring in expertise from across the political spectrum. Just imagine if Vince Cable's business expertise could be harnessed in the present situation. An offer of cabinet posts to the Tories and Lib Dems would also serve to completely wrong-foot the opposition."

I turned to the subject again the week after, suggesting that Tories and Liberal Democrats should be invited onto an emergency committee on the economy, an idea which found itself into the Lib Dem manifesto this year.

Political Betting noted in October 2008 that Vince Cable had become favourite to succeed Alistair Darling as Chancellor. It could yet happen.

I most recently revisited the subject on this blog on April 17th and the argument seems even more persuasive now coalition negotiations have begun.