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Why the 'it won't last' experts were wrong

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We should reflect on the fact that across local government coalitions between different parties are nothing new, says Mike Lee (Con), leader of Blackburn with Darwen BC

Much has been made of the new government and whether it’s likely to stand the test of time. However, before we all place our bets on an election within 12 months, we should reflect on the fact that across local government coalitions between different parties are nothing new - in fact in a lot of areas they are succeeding where previous one-party administrations have failed.

Blackburn with Darwen BC is a case in point. When Labour lost control in 2007, a coalition of three parties agreed to form an administration to take the council forward - the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats and the For Darwen Party.

The same comments were made - “it won’t last”, “they won’t be able to agree anything”, “the council will stagnate”.

Fortunately, these predictions were proved wrong.

More to the point, we stood together and made some pretty controversial decisions for the long-term benefit of the borough that would have tested the resilience of one party, let alone the ambitions of three.

How has this been done? Put simply, if you understand what drives a person to take up public service you will know that in most cases it is a desire to improve the area in which they live, not just add political numbers to a group.

Naturally, we are all political animals and want our party to do the best it can, but if most councillors get the chance to improve their local community they will grasp that chance - not doing so would simply be letting people down for the sake of political pride.

Nationally, the situation is no different. The strongest, most sensible option, was for David Cameron and Nick Clegg to sort out an arrangement that would give the country stability. It won’t be easy and yes, there will be those willing it to fail.

However, as with many councils across the country, it would have simply been wrong not to put aside personal political interest in the pursuit of doing what is right for Britain.

Councillor Mike Lee (Con), leader, Blackburn with Darwen BC
If you would like to write a column, email dan.drillsmamilgrom@emap.com

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