David Cameron and Nick Clegg: No let-up in tough decisions

 

Cameron and Clegg were asked if coalition "waters down" policies

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David Cameron has said there will be no "let-up" in tough decisions on the economy and defended the coalition as "necessary" to solve the UK's problems.

Speaking on a visit to a factory in Essex ahead of Wednesday's Queen's Speech, the prime minister said many people were having "tough times".

He vowed to do more to help with living costs and help the UK "go for growth".

Deputy Nick Clegg said the economy could not be fixed "overnight" and the process could take many years.

The two were making a joint appearance ahead of the launch of the coalition's legislative programme for the next year and in the wake of poll losses for both the Conservatives and Lib Dems in last week's council elections.

These reverses have fuelled renewed tensions between the coalition partners, with Tory MPs demanding more purely Conservative policies.

The BBC's Norman Smith said the event was a show of unity and its setting - in a tractor factory in Essex - was designed to counter suggestions the government was out of touch and to provide a contrast with their 2010 "Rose Garden" press conference.

Mr Cameron said he realised families were finding it "difficult to make ends meet" and growth in the economy was much harder to come by than anticipated.

'Hard and difficult'

Despite this, he said there should be no "let-up" in the coalition's plans to cut spending, saying they were essential to stabilise the economy and deliver low interest rates.

"I am afraid we can't let up on the difficult decisions we have made to cut public spending and to get our deficit under control," he said. "I know it is hard and difficult but when you have a debt problem the one thing you must not do is to keep adding endlessly to that debt."

However, he promised to "redouble" the government's efforts to drive growth, through increased bank lending, support for new businesses and skills training.

SIGNIFICANT JOINT APPEARANCES

  • November 2011: Launch of housing strategy
  • June 2011: NHS 'listening exercise'
  • March 2011: Q&A session
  • December 2010: End-of-year press conference
  • June 2010: Joint TV interview with Nick Robinson and BBC audience
  • May 2010: Rose Garden conference

As the UK confronted these serious challenges, it was vital that the Conservatives and Lib Dems continued to work together. Although the two parties did not agree on everything, he believed the coalition was "as important and necessary today as it was two years ago".

Mr Clegg said the economic recovery would be "painstaking" and the coalition should be "judged by its actions" over its five-year period.

"It is not something we are going to achieve overnight," he said. "Dealing with the deficit can sound a very, dry statistical exercise.

"I actually think we have a moral duty to the next generation to wipe the slate clean for them. We have set out a plan - it lasts about six or seven years - to wipe the slate clean to rid people of that deadweight of debt that has built up over time."

Lords debate

Both men denied the election of new French President Francois Hollande on a growth agenda signalled that voters were tiring of austerity measures such as spending cuts, tax rises and public sector pay freezes.

They also rejected the idea that the UK and other countries which prioritised measures to reduce debts were becoming isolated.

Start Quote

Their joint appearance was not, as billed, a renewal of their coalition vows. They largely do not need renewing.”

End Quote

Mr Cameron said it was a "myth" that Europe was divided into pro-growth and pro-austerity camps, pointing out that Mr Hollande was also calling for deficit reduction. Mr Clegg said the new French president agreed with the UK that recovery had to be built on "sustainable foundations".

Some Conservatives have been setting out an "alternative Queen's Speech" - calling for plans for reform of the House of Lords to be dropped in favour of more populist policies.

Both Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg said Lords reform was, by no means, their leading priority but Parliament should be allowed to debate the issue.

And Mr Clegg said he backed an elected Lords as "a smidgeon of democracy, I don't think, would go amiss because we have talking about it for 100 years".

'Radical measures'

All three of the main parties supported Lords reform in their 2010 manifestos. But Conservative MP David Ruffley warned his coalition partners against getting bogged down "in the minutiae" of the issue and urged them to focus on getting the economy back on its feet.

"We have to recognise that to get people into employment you have to start reducing the tax burden and if the Liberals don't want to join in that endeavour, then they might want to have an earlier meeting with the electorate at a general election," he told BBC Radio 4's World at One.

In May 2010, before the coalition got to work, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg were in a jokey mood in the Downing Street rose garden

The BBC understands the commitment to hold the first elections to the Lords in 2015 will be included in the Queen's Speech but the changes will only go ahead on the basis Parliament can reach a consensus on the issue, which has proved impossible in the past.

Earlier, Labour leader Ed Miliband set out his party's alternative to the coalition during his own visit to Essex.

He said the government had run out of "excuses" for the "failure" of its economic policy.

The opposition has called for measures in the Queen's Speech to help families with the cost of fuel bills and train fares.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The problem with the coalition's economic strategy is not just that it is unfair, but that it is not working.

"Rapid, deep spending cuts have helped send the economy back into recession."

 

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  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 407.

    All Clegg is doing is turning more and more blue and its just a matter of time before he forgets what party he actually leads but it doesnt matter the damage is done and history tells us he will pay very very high in the next election. Cameron doesnt care he is so posh and loaded that whatever happens he will be ok

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 406.

    39.Beat The Clock
    3 Hours ago
    You can change the spin but the core of the problem is that we have bunch of inexperienced toffs who have never done a real job and have never run a business filling the cabinet.

    You're quite right. So our choice is inexperienced toff, inexperienced toff's mate or zero experience Trade Union glove puppet. Can't imagine why people are disaffected, can you?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 405.

    everybody knows theres no simple solution to our woes. but to simlpy cut cut cut is again, everybody knows, not the answer. everybody should not be in this together too. quite simply everybody who can afford it should stump up. one solution which i think people wouldnt object to is a national debt tax. where everyone pays say £1 at least a week of there wages to pay off the debt,scaled upwards.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 404.

    it's a problem of society. Politicians making promises to masses which can't be kept. Then when it goes wrong they point the finger at the successfull! The rich didn't vote labour, the rich didn't run a budget deficit for a decade. the rich create employment, opportunity an wealth. a self made millionaire will contribute more in a year to society than most people in a life time.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 403.

    This parliament will not do a full term, Glegg will wait long enough to see if there is going to be any improvement in the economy. This will not happen, Glegg will bale out citing Tory incompetence, and unacceptable policies, hoping to salvage some credibility before a general election.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 402.

    Considering all the holes that were left in the ship by Brown, Blair and Balls et al, the Coalition are doing well keeping it afloat.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 401.

    Relaunch what? Govenrments - whtever colour - cant create create growth, they only spend the proceeds, and waste a lot of it in the process. I'd be happy if there was a law stopping governments borrowing any money.

  • rate this
    -55

    Comment number 400.

    They are doing a great job so far. Long may it continue.

    My only criticism is they are not cutting benefits deep enough or quick enough.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 399.

    It seems have escaped people's attention that over the last 50 years we have become increasingly dependant on the government to live. Most recently, living conditions have been squeezed because wages haven't kept up with costs - gvmt makes up the difference- the cycle goes around again.

    We can't now do away with welfare because people would 'drown' - just a shame that failed policies continue.

  • rate this
    -35

    Comment number 398.

    Why oh why are so many people bleating on about politicians being more wealthy than them. So what if they are. As long as they are steering the country in the right direction I care not an ounce about their wealth. They are doing a fantastic job in seriously dangerous financial times. The country was on the edge of bankruptcy. The Labour party spent our, and our children,s money. Criminal.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 397.

    "Ross
    why in god name are they giving Billions away to other countries as foreign aid"

    Because there are people in the world in far more desperate need than ANYONE in the UK.

    "Billions to the IMF"

    Because we were recipients of its aid once and if the global trade collapses so does our economy.

    "Billions to europe"

    Because we are EU members and it is our largest export market.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 396.

    Of good. Let's get together and show people we are united. Yes you're both out of touch. Now I'm not a labour support and my personal opinion is that Labour did over spend on the country's credit card and this government our trying to get us out of it. But none have had a hard working class upbringing. Silver spoon the lot of them.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 395.

    Shame that Clegg turned out to be an ineffective lacky, hanging on Flashman's coat tails, even dressing the same. I voted Lib/Def but even I cannot respect Clegg's performance - and nor can the electorate in general.

    Time for Vince Cable to be a proper leader, and genuinely lead even if it means standing up for principles & risk the end of the coilition.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 394.

    When the Tories see the current double dip, rising unemployment etc. they blame it on "headwinds". But that's not what they said when Labour had to bail out the banks in the midst of a global economic meltdown. Spot the double standards!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 393.

    NobodyCaresAnymore @377
    You already have this option...
    Go to the polling station, add a line that says "none of the above", put your cross by it.
    You ballot paper will have been spoilt but at least you will be counted in the "turn out" figures

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 392.

    As a voter I have been lied to, robbed of taxes to give to the rich and now they are going to insult me by "relaunching" themselves. Their arrogance astounds me - and Labour are no better.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 391.

    What are they going to call the relaunch? Perhaps Titanic 11? Things are going to get bitter

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 390.

    352.
    Chris Neville-Smith

    I know the meaning behind what I said. Tell me this though, why in god name are they giving Billions away to other countries as foreign aid, Billions to the IMF, Billions to europe. The billions we are giving away is not ours to give. But way more to the point is that we, in this country need the money. Stop defending, Your flogging a dead horse.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 389.

    None of the parties know what it's like for the everyday citizen right now, ministers are financially secure, great pension at the end with a possible peerage. Their children don't know what it is like to want for necessities because they cannot afford it. They don't have to make the choice of who will eat tonight, them or the kids. They always begin "I understand..." How could they possibly!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 388.

    Comedy coalition. The country is in economic crisis and these two caper thinking PR will save them and us.

 

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