The Liberal Democrat Orange Book, written by Messrs Clegg, Laws and other leading luminaries contains some strong language.
Mr David Laws wrote about the NHS. He characterised the NHS as a “cumbersome, centrally directed public sector monopoly” delivering a “second rate state monopoly service” to “passive recipients” rather than to “customers”. He recommended a big dose of “choice, competition and decentralisation” and more use of the voluntary and private sectors to sort it out. He sees many people as “losers” from this “failure”, and condemns the inefficiencies. He strongly recommends competition including more provision from the private sector.
He concluded that the NHS as we know it should be replaced with a National Health insurance scheme, where everyone would have either NHS or private provider health insurance. In the light of these ideas, it is difficult to understand why Lib Dems say they are needed to stop the Conservatives making more modest reforms to the NHS than they themselves have proposed, especially when the milder Coalition reforms planned were in the Lib Dem 2010 Manifesto.
Mr Clegg was very worrying in his aims. He wrote about the need for the Lib Dems to be a pro EU party setting out the case for European integration. He proposed “Liberal Democrats should reassert themselves in this debate (on the EU), by adopting a clear stance that addresses the need for EU reform whilst promoting the simple and overwhelming case for European integration.”
At the edges of the EU government Mr Clegg can be persuaded that we need to change the Common Fishery and the Common Agricultural Policy, but at heart he is a strong integrationist. He says “Far from becoming outdated, such supranational EU governance represents the most fitting response to the modern challenges of globalisation, in which economic and political sovereignty has become increasingly disjointed”
Mr Huhne in his conbtribution welcomed the creation of a rapid reaction force for the EU – an EU army – and proposed a single budget holder for weapons procurement in the EU. “Europe needs to reshape its military to make a substantially greater contribution to the keeping of global order…”
It may be that the Conservatives have to act as a moderating influence on these bold and in some cases dangerous views.