David Cameron and Nick Clegg introduces the Australian electoral system to the United Kindom.
David Cameron and Nick Clegg agree on fixed terms and voting reform
May 12, 2010
BRITAIN'S new coalition government has agreed to cut spending, raise the minimum tax threshold, set fixed five-year terms of parliament and reform the voting system as part of the nation's first power-sharing deal in 70 years.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron promised to make the Liberal Democrat party leader Nick Clegg his Deputy Prime Minister and appoint four other Lib Dems to his Cabinet and 15 more as junior ministers.
Five days of talks between the two parties produced a compromise package that was the basis for the new Coalition, following a general election last week that ended in the first hung parliament since 1974.
Gordon Brown resigned as prime minister, ending 13 years of Labour Government.
The Lib Dems accepted Tory plans to put a new cap on non-European immigration, which could make it harder for Australians to work in Britain.
The two parties also agreed to cut public spending to reduce the budget deficit more quickly than the outgoing Labour government had planned, ditching the Lib Dem's argument during the election campaign that spending had to be sustained in order to prevent a double-dip recession.
The Lib Dems dropped their longstanding opposition to the renewal of Britain's Trident nuclear submarine program, but won Conservative support for a referendum on moving to the Australian-style preferential voting or “Alternative Vote” system.
Tories will be free to campaign in that referendum against the change, which would cost the Tories seats but make it easier for more Lib Dems to be elected seats
The youngest UK leader in almost 200 years, 43-year-old Cameron said he believed the country's first coalition since World War II would provide “the strong and stable government that our country needs”.
Mr Brown's departure after three years as leader following a breakdown of coalition talks between the Labour and Lib Dem parties.
Mr Clegg's deputy and economic spokesman Vince Cable will join him in Cabinet with responsibility for the banking system.
From Mr Cameron's own Conservative team George Osborne, 38, became the youngest chancellor in more than a century, former leader William Hague became Foreign Secretary and Liam Fox became Defence Secretary.
Soon after Mr Brown announced his resignation Mr Cameron and his wife Samantha drove to Buckingham palace to take up his appointment from the Queen, whose first prime minister Winston Churchill was the last British leader to head a formal coalition.
Mr Cameron said he wanted to “rebuild trust in our political system (and) build a more responsible society here in Britain, one where we don't just ask what are my entitlements but what are my responsibilities, one where we don't ask what am I just owed but more what can I give.”
Barack Obama was the first foreign leader to congratulate Mr Cameron, inviting him to Washington, and he was quickly followed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who invited him to Berlin.
Kevin Rudd spoke to Mr Cameron, advising him and his family to enjoy an hour of quiet time before the real job started.
As part of the price for their support the Lib Dems won a Conservative promise of electoral reform and tax changes built on the Lib Dem policy of removing income tax from people earning under 10,000, which would became “an aspiration” of the new government.
The Lib Dems said their coalition talks with Labour had failed because “the Labour Party never took seriously the prospects of forming a progressive, reforming government”.
Many Labour MPs undermined the talks by making it clear yesterday that instead of compromising on their own policies they would rather go into opposition and emerge with a new leader to challenge the Tories and Lib Dems at the next election, after the coalition parties have tried to implement unpopular spending cuts.
Labour's Lord Mandelson told the BBC his party had been “up for” a deal, but the Lib Dems had “created so many barriers and obstacles that perhaps they thought their interests lay on the Tory side, on the Conservative side, rather than the progressive side”.
When the talks failed Mr Brown went to Buckingham Palace to resign, and then gave a farewell speech in which he said Labour's failure to win the general election was “my fault, and my fault alone”.
Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman replaced him as leader while the party elects a long-term successor.
Mr Cameron was soon standing outside the PM's official residence at 10 Downing Street giving his first speech as Prime Minister.
Paying tribute to Mr Brown and Labour, Mr Cameron said that “compared with a decade ago this country is more open at home and more compassionate abroad and that is something we should all be grateful for”.
“Our country has a hung parliament where no party has an overall majority and we have some deep and pressing problems: a huge deficit , deep social problems and a political system in need of reform,” he said.
“For those reasons I aim to form a proper and full coalition between the conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
“I believe that is the right way to provide this country with the strong, the stable, the good and decent government that I think we need so badly.
“One of the tasks that we clearly have is to rebuild trust in our political system.”
Part of that would be stopping abuses of MPs expenses and reforming the voting system “but I believe it is also something else, it is about being honest about what government can achieve”.
“Above all it will be a government that is built on some clear values, values of freedom , values of fairness and values of responsibility,” Mr Cameron said.
“A coalition will throw up all sorts of challenges but I believe together we can provide that strong and stable government that our country needs based on those values - rebuilding family, rebuilding community above all rebuilding responsibility in our country. Those are the things I care about, those are the things this government will now start work on doing.”