Coalition government almost invariably makes for bad government. This is because the need for compromise between coalition partners typically results in their adopting such a melange of mutually conflicting policies as precludes any of the more potentially beneficial ones from ever being able to achieve fruition.
Britain’s current coalition between David Cameron’s Conservatives and Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats is a case in point.
Essentially, at heart, the Conservatives remain a business-friendly party, favouring small government, low taxes and strong local communities. By contrast, their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats, formed themselves by a merger between a breakaway group of former Labour MPs and the erstwhile Liberal Party, in many ways are now more interventionist and for the redistribution of wealth through fiscal policies than is the present Labour Party.
We might, therefore, have known two summers ago, when at a hastily convened press conference held in the Rose Garden at 10 Downing Street Nick Clegg stood alongside David Cameron to announce their decision to enter into coalition, that some pretty rum policy decisions were on their way.
The latest of these decisions was announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in his House of Commons budget speech last month. As part of a wider clamp-down on tax avoidance by the rich, he declared he was proposing to cap tax relief on charitable donations. From next year on, philanthropists in the UK will have to pay tax on any annual charitable donations they make above £50,000 or 20 per cent of annual income, whichever figure was higher.