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
    -5

    Comment number 627.

    //ziggyboy
    Just now
    Why don't they call an election. . For them to carry on after 2 years blaming Labour is wearing thin and unless they can work to fix the problems they should step aside and call an election. //

    Labour caused the main problems - banks, immigrants, deindustrialisation, bloated public sector. Torydems are bad, Labour are worse.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 626.

    Perhaps after the big defeats for both parties, the Coalition should begin a LUL campaign.
    LUL? Leave Us Alone!
    The news items if they reflect political thinking, certainly seem reminiscent of the Methodists and Salvation Army.
    Save us all from drinking,swear words, drugs, internet,meat, pubs, Tesco.Big Govt seeks to remove all citizen choice.Big Brother Brown was bad, but Cons like Suffragettes!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 625.

    "Tony
    What planet are you on, Nobody voted for this it was foisted on us"

    I think it is you who should be asked their planetary residence! The electorate gave no party a majority of MPs. Accordingly, constitutionally, a coalition was formed with an agreement of what they believed was both necessary and desired by the electorate. The public got the government it voted for.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 624.

    592.Billy Smith
    " For the first time a majority can claim to have voted for the government."

    -------
    Your view would have more credibilty if the coalition were implementing the policies they espoused in opposition. Yes circumstances changed, and because of that the most democratic way forward would be a National Government with all parties involved, or even a general election.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 623.

    559.firemensaction
    Completely agree with the first part. As a former long-term civil servant at the centre, I agree with most of the second part - though I'd add a 100% cut of Special Advisers, who put the ladies of the Night in complete shade when it comes to power without responsibility. And wipe out all the PR Departments in the Ministries, leaving a small section in each for media contact.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 622.

    "Losing public trust"? Public trust has vanished! Politicians and canvassers are banned from our street - not because of ignorance or unwillingness to participate but purely to save an alleged lynching! It is downright criminal the hardships faced by the hardworking majority of this country and for the taxes both direct and indirect is tantamount to a civil war.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 621.

    Coalition has so far failed on the economy, recovery already at least 18 months delayed from where 2010 OBR suggested would be. NHS about to turn into a shambles, as without a new GP contract linked to goals of the new structure enough GPs will play 'silly beggars' to thwart the objectives. In September have the new 'Clegg University Fees'. What have LibDems achieved by joining?

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 620.

    At the first launch, these two gave hope. At the second launch, the public will now have experience of what they have achieved - which is the negative elephant on the room, for most of us. We all know rebranding does not work - in whatever field.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 619.

    44.Thorntonite

    As my dear old dad colourfully observes from time to time, "You can't polish a turd!"

    No disrespect to your dad, but you can. And if you do, it stinks, all manner of crap rubs off on everythng and it quickly loses any substance... pretty much like this government.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 618.

    Dave, rearranging the deckchairs won't be enough

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 617.

    Cameron is good at re-launches. Now how many times has he re-launched the Big Society?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 616.

    I thank gordon brown everytime I hear of people being unable to get on the housing ladder, because of his housing boom when money moved from pension funds he taxed, so I have to work longer to get less of.
    I thank Ed Miliband for the extra £200 a year on my energy bill from his days as energy secretary.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 615.

    "farkyss
    NHS are absolutely terrible if you have a long term, non-life threatening ailment. This is because they ration on a cost-basis and are almost entirely allopathic medicine based."

    Quite possibly true. Private healthcare is only good for insurable ailments and read the exclusion clauses. NHS may or may not be "terrible" for such treatments but private cover is non-existent.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 614.

    562.1L19
    523. swerdna more twaddle
    A future is obviously important. Your narrow mindedness is unreal like the idea that this corrupt political system works....

    So what political system do you suggest will work?
    I remember the post WW2 austerity when we were repaying our debts. Attempting to spend our way out of trouble only works if there is spare cash to spend AFTER debts are repaid.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 613.

    Unforynatelly politicians cannot fix our poroblems because there are rather technical not political. Most people need acces to the goods more than posses money. The resource based economy would be much better alternative to the current one. How politicians can immagine decrease the unemployment when it is trend in economy to replace humans by robots ? Back to dark ages?

  • rate this
    +58

    Comment number 612.

    The country is in an economic crisis, unemployment is soaring, no proper decent jobs are being created, we are in recession and the coalitions answer is ... a PR stunt. God save us from these fools.

    We want policies, initiatives, concrete action that is going to benefit the whole nation. Two years is plenty of time to get things started on the right track. The coalition has no idea.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 611.

    The very word Coalition means the joining of two parties together to govern, so we should be seeing Co Priminister David Cameron and likewise for Nick Clegg. David cameron has only considered himself again.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 610.

    Brokeback Coalition?

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 609.

    I honstly don't think we will have to wait till 2015 for the next election. LibDems recognise how badly this coalition has damaged them and will choose a new leader and leave the coalition by 2014 forcing an early election.
    Although it will be too late for them, their only chance of salvaging their party would be to do that now.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 608.

    I wonder what the Advertising Standards Agency have to say about the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats . Their election campaigns were one big false advertisement, none of the 'promises' they made have been kept instead they've made a bad situation worse.

 

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