Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

A tale of two liberalisms

Beech, Matt


Profile Image

Dr Matt Beech
Reader in Politics and Director of the Centre for British Politics



The Conservative-Liberal Government represents a new period in British politics. The Coalition brought to an end 13 years of New Labour rule and reintroduced the idea of inter-party cooperation in government. The United Kingdom has not experienced such politics since the 1940–45 National Government of Winston Churchill. The major policy event of the Coalition’s tenure and most likely of the decade was the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) on 20 October 2010. The CSR sought to radically reduce the national deficit by dramatically cutting public expenditure annually by 14.4 per cent and by 46.4 per cent over the next five years (Crawford, 2010). However, it also had another purpose — to curtail the size and the responsibilities of the central state. Whether Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats as partners in the Coalition endorse the concept of the ‘big society’ is not known; nevertheless, it is the clearest expression of what David Cameron hopes will supplant Labour’s ‘big state’. What the public have in this new era of British politics is an accord between two political parties that espouse two types of liberalism and contain similarities as well as stark differences. And yet, at the heart of this accord is opposition to the social democratic state that has presided at the epicentre of British politics since the premiership of Clement Attlee and an opposition to the organization that has sustained this model of the state, namely the Labour Party.


Beech, M. (2011). A tale of two liberalisms. In S. Lee, & M. Beech (Eds.), The Cameron-Clegg Government: Coalition Politics in an Age of Austerity (267-279). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Acceptance Date Apr 5, 2011
Online Publication Date Apr 5, 2011
Publication Date Apr 5, 2011
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Pages 267-279
Book Title The Cameron-Clegg Government: Coalition Politics in an Age of Austerity
Chapter Number 17
ISBN 9780230296442
Public URL