David Cameron named new UK prime minister after Brown resigns
The Conservative Party leader David Cameron swiftly moved into 10 Downing Street on Tuesday as the UK's first Conservative Party prime minister in 13 years. Gordon Brown steps down.
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However, many observers have emphasized how close the two parties are on the issue.Skip to next paragraph
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Two parties close on key issues
“All three of the main parties do not differ anything like they would pretend to on the issue of public spending,” said Mark Littlewood, a former Liberal Democrat official who now heads the Institute of Economic Affairs. “The actual figures that they have been discussing are actually utterly trivial in the context of Britain’s debt soaring through the one trillion mark. There are difference of nuance and no one has actually grappled yet with the scale of the cuts that will be necessary but I doubt that there would be substantial grounds which would be impossible to overcome."
The Conservatives support a greater role for communities and individuals in place of the state, specifically advocating the creation of parent-organized charter schools, a position close to the beliefs of many Liberal Democrats.
“I can’t see the Liberals having an ideological objection on Tory ideas of encouraging more voluntary associations of one sort or another,” says Lawrence Black, who teaches modern British political and cultural history at Durham University. “They resonate pretty closely with many ideas of liberalism.”
But Conservative plans to increase the threshold for inheritance taxes and to recognize marriage within the tax system have been put on hold.
Areas where the two parties could bump heads over going forward include immigration and greater European integration. The Liberals have argued for the introduction of "earned citizenship" for illegal immigrants who have been in the UK for a certain period of time, something the Tories oppose. They have also doggedly opposed Tory plans to introduce immigration quotas, pointing out they wouldn't stop EU citizens from coming to work in the country.But without major EU treaties or actions looming, Clegg and Cameron may be able to ignore their EU differences for a time.
“There is a monumental divide between the Liberals and the Tories (over Europe) but in the present circumstances - in which there is not likely to be any proposed fundamental change with Britain’s relationship with the EU, either withdrawal or further integration - the substantial differences that exist do not need to hamper a Conservative-Liberal government,” said Mr. Littlewood.
Despite the common ground, the history of British coalition arrangements in suggests that cracks will inevitably emerge.
“Most previous minority or coaliton governments in Britain through the 20th century have been pretty short lived, many of them less than a year,” said Dr. Black. “Normally what it results in is short term deals - but ultimately an election.”
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