The prenuptial agreement, AKA the coalition blueprint, between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats revealed the depth of disagreements between the two parties.
The 35 page document revealed that no less than 40 areas of contention between the two have been sent out ‘for review’; the political equivalent of being brushed under the carpet.
One of the major areas of disagreement is on the constitution where Conservatives want to prevent Scottish MPs voting on English only matters. However the issue of Trident, where there is major disagreement between the two parties, has been omitted from any review.
Key areas of agreement include reducing the budget deficit through spending cuts, scrapping ID cards and a defence spending review. An autumn spending review will to set out expenditure for the next three years and is expected to result in significant cuts to the Scottish block grant.
On Trident though the Tories have simply ignored the Lib Dems, insisting that the nuclear weapon system will be renewed. Their coalition partners have been reduced to claiming weakly that they will “continue to make the case for alternatives”.
Commenting, SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson, Angus Robertson MP said:
“It’s clear from the coalition programme that that the Liberal Democrats have been taken over by the Tories on Trident. You can’t commit billions to a renewal programme while, with any credibility, simultaneously claim to be examining alternatives.
“Renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system will cost £100bn over the next 20 years. David Cameron and Nick Clegg need to get real. It cannot be right to proceed with its procurement whilst aiming to cut other conventional areas of defence spending at a time when our forces need support most.
“Labour presided over a £4.3 billion defence underspend in Scotland with almost 10,000 jobs lost, and now the ConDem coalition has picked up where Labour left off.
“Anyway that you look at it; on moral, economic or political grounds, renewal of these weapons of mass destruction is untenable.”
One of the more bizarre agreements between the two is the revelation that the Lib Dems will be allowed to abstain on any vote. This will play into the hands of those who claim that Liberal Democrats have little by way of conviction and are ‘fence sitters’ extraordinaire.
The final page of the document states clearly that reducing the £163bn deficit left by Labour “takes precedence” over everything else. An indication surely of the shocking state of the UK finances and a thinly veiled warning of the depth of the cuts to come.