It has become clear to me that if there is a Lib Dem meeting with food then something is going wrong if there’s nothing spicy on the menu! This was clearly true for the Putney Spicy Politics session with fantastic food home cooked by local member Ushma Williams (the spicy lamb kebabs were the best I have ever had!). Along with the great food it was good to have a lively discussion with Andrew Stunell, MP for Hazel Grove.
Andrew talked on a variety of things ranging from his time as one of the negotiators during the formation of the coalition agreement through to his time as an ex-minister; it was only earlier that day that he had been reshuffled out of government. One of the big points that was talked about was the announcement about the homes expansions and the removal of local planning consent. Housing is often a contentious issue, with many people saying that they wanted more homes for their children or grandchildren to live in, but didn’t want to see those new homes being built in their area. The idea of the change to planning consent was to open this conundrum up to the community so that now it is up to the community to say what goes where, not the council’s planning department. The added impact that this will have in the short term on jobs and growth, giving an immediate boost to the economy will also be much appreciated at the moment.
After the meeting I had a chat with Andrew to find out how he managed to get so much Lib Dem policy into the coalition agreement, policies which have or will be enacted seeing the Lib Dems achieving over three quarters of their manifesto committments. He told me, when you enter negotiations with a desperate man you hold all the winning cards. David Cameron had been expected to win the General Election, and win it comfortably. When the poll turned out to not go in his favour he was desperate to make sure he entered government and was willing to move on a number of issues. Hence why as Mark Pack points out 75% of our manifesto is in the coalition agreement!