Coalition ahoy

News trickling in that the Conservatives have offered the Liberal Democrats a coalition. The Lib Dem parliamentary party and Federal Executives, without whom a coalition cannot be ratified, are currently meeting to consider it.

There’s even talk of an emergency Special Conference this weekend which will mean conference representatives across the country pricking their ears up.

But the rolling news media are considering it a done deal already.

Amongst the headlines are that Nick Clegg will serve as Deputy Prime Minister, Danny Alexander as Secretary of State for Scotland, along with three other Lib Dems in the cabinet and a further 20 in government. Vince Cable will take responsibility for banks and business.

Some of the policy compromises announced include the long heralded Conservative agreement for a referendum on AV, which falls long short of PR, but is welcome change – assuming Liberal Democrats are ultimately successful in persuading the public.

The Conservatives give on inheritance tax and marriage tax breaks as well as changes to capital gains tax to finance the Liberal Democrat proposals of a significant raise in the personal allowance, one of the flagship Lib Dem policies.

But the full detail of the agreement is not yet public and we are none the wiser than the rolling media reporters. How will Lib Dem MPs be expected to vote for a joint policy programme? What will happen to the Lib Dem party policy making system at conference, the last remaining democratic political party? Just what will this mean for Lib Dem local parties? How will we stave off the criticism from voters and what awaits us at the next major round of council elections?

Only time will tell.

And all I can ask for is please resist forming a judgment too quickly. Judge the coalition agreement on the fuller details when they are made available.

And judge the Liberal Democrats on the policy concessions and the tangible outcomes they get out of a spell in government.