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.”

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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
    +2

    Comment number 647.

    With RBS recently announcing they have repaid £160bn of Government loans, why are the coalition not rejoicing that our debts have plummeted? Is it because they have run up even more debt or that they wish to pursue their political ideology?
    Either way, it proves ideological incompetence on a massive scale that no "re-launch" will erase.

    General Election Now! Our government, our choice!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 646.

    Just got in from bird watching. Saw territorialism, war, greed, stealing, hierarchy and confirmed that humans are just animals, nasty predatory animals at that, despite intelligence and technology (apparent) animal instincts are what make us tick. Looking forward to the next war on the horizon?

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 645.

    The sell-off of the NHS was utterly shameless, against the will of the public they went ahead and sold the NHS to their friends despite having no mandate and having promised no top-down reform of the NHS.

    You can't come back from such a betrayal, there's nothing left to re-launch, Clegg and Cameron have three more years to continue their scorched-earth policies, after that they are finished.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 644.

    On economic things the government is absolutely fine and Labour would do nothing substantially different. Far far too much whinging. People of my parent's generation with experience of rationing regard the trivial so called austerity some whine about as nothing. Time this generation grew up. So called austerity is normal life. Get interest rates up, halve house prices and we will be recovered.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 643.

    ""At least with Labour we had a work force to get the county into production""

    No, with Labour we had an extra one million unneeded and non-productive public sector "jobs", funded by taxpayers, and created by Brown/Miliband/Balls and friends to try to buy the elections for Labour. Thankfully,people saw through this. Never again!!

  • Comment number 642.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 641.

    Typical politicians! The coalition is a diabolical mess, the economy is wrecked, the richest get away with blue murder while the poorest are bleeding dry, and what do they do? Relaunch the disaster. Come back Guy Fawkes, all is forgiven!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 640.

    What is all the fuss about, surely the Big Society is the answer to all our woes.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 639.

    @ 595. Albert

    Lets be honest here. The trade unions do nothing but disrupt believing the should be completely exempt from any austerity measurese. Its also socialists that complain more regarding the wealth gap in this country, yet cannot see gap rose up by 80% under Labour.

    As for the UK riots. It was mostly by a generation who knew nothing but a Labour government.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 638.

    When do we get rid of this lot then?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 637.

    It is not the average millionaire who are the target for national hatred. It is the elite, super-rich, capitalists who are the archiects of the globalised free market system. They strong armed governments into bailing out the system then propogated the myth that austerity is the only option. There is another way, take THEIR money, not ours. The Tories and Murdoch are just the PR team.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 636.

    It would be nice just to start with the first basic thing, Tell the truth stop telling lies. The next thing would be to answer questions, stop blaming everyone else. They said they would make work pay, then increased the Natioal minimum Wage by 1%, and frozen the pay of Civil Servents for 3 years, but the people at the top still creaming it in.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 635.

    They've already said they're not going to change direction. This is just spin. You don't sort an economy through austerity but through growth. It's like their claim that money trickles down; it never has and never will. Their aim seems to be for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. It'll be hard to re-brand that, most of us aren't that foolish

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 634.

    Why bother?

    To the vast majority, "working harder again" (suggesting they stopped), will just mean more pain for a negative gain.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 633.

    One cut I would be in favour of is cut the coalition.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 632.

    The writing's been on the wall since the last election. Even the most ardent Labour supporter would have to concede that the party lost its way under Brown and made some seriously bad decisions. Yet, given all that ammunition and years to come up with new, innovative policies, Cameron, Osborne, Clegg et al appear to be rabbits caught in headlights with little, if any, idea what to do.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 631.

    I love seeing the naive lefties whine - we are still much better off than the rest of Europe. Well done Cameron & Clegg - lots more to do, but so far so good.

  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 630.

    There's nothing wrong with a relaunch, the coalition has done an excellent job in keeping the important credit rating and sharing the cuts out. Their problem has been how they've handled the media with the budget etc, therefore if they can set this straight they're sorted.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 629.

    Then Dave and Nick stepped out of the shower and the electorate realised the last two years had all been a dream...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 628.

    what should have happened is that the tories should be discussing with all parties on resolution of the issues bypassing libs if necessary, if they were truly there for us then labour regardless of party would vote for a change that was effective. but this is about the MPs benefitting not the public, all of them have put their personal needs before the public needs

 

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