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
    +3

    Comment number 767.

    The Condems are looking more like condoms every day.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 766.

    "#701
    It was at the same time they flogged all of our remaining gold reserves.
    They sold them both for the equivalent of a packet of peanuts and a chocolate bar."

    No, they sold them at the prevailing market price as they did with the 3G licences at the same time for £22B (way overvalued). Hindsight is wonderful, but totally useless, as a guide to investing.Did you buy gold at $200/oz, then?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 765.

    Left, right, red, blue. We're being conned - round and round in circles. The greedy hands of politics.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 764.

    @Beat The Clock:

    Two Words, Gordon Brown

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 763.

    We don't need a relaunched coalition - we need a relaunched Parliament, full-stop. I can count on the fingers of both hands the amount of MPs I trust or have any respect for. None of the mainstream parties represent anyone but a privileged few and a dying dream, so those of you who continue to spout drivel about the 'loony left' or 'EDL-supporting Nazis' are only deluding yourselves.

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 762.

    The coalition arent communicating this very well. IT WAS LABOUR WHO LEFT THE COUNTRY WITH A MASSIVE DEBT AND DEFICIT! Say it louder!

    Don't let Ed Balls & Ed Milliband get away with it. Their arguments are total baloney & disingenuous. They were in Govt when the debt & deficit arose, DURING A BOOM!

    In 2 yrs time when France has suffered for going anti-austerity the THE TRUTH WILL SHOW - OK Eds!

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 761.

    727.
    Noortee Divil

    Oh dear oh dear. sad Still never mind. You can go back to sleep now and dream of times when the working classes were dying in their millions through starvation, poverty and disease and small children could be hung for stealing a crust of bread.

    Meanwhile in the realworld the grown ups are discussing things that really matter to us all.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 760.

    Will there be a lunch?
    I wonder what colour ties they will wear?

    I love Politics, it COULD be so interesting and engaging, it is a shame we have weak, dis-honourable politicians that make it all so un-interesting.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 759.

    714.Riggadon
    "..socialists to the south in france just taken power.."

    You're having a laugh. Germany & Merkel's got the money. France & Hollande's got the debts. Only one winner there & it won't be some new-in wet behind the ears socialist apparatchik. Watch those barricades being thrown up when the French 'entitlement classes' realise they're not going to get the hand-outs they voted for.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 758.

    Public sector and associates were promised massive benefits, job creation, higher pay etc from the last labour government. That gov. delivered but at the same time bankrupted our country borrowing to meet these promises. If we overspent in a global economic boom, how are we to address that balance in a recession? France is going down the wrong path, we are next to follow, socialism doesnt work!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 757.

    It will be all very predictable. More talk, fine words, phrases like 'we are listening'. We don't want to hear this. What we want is ACTION to get the country out of the mess successive governments have got us into. When will politicians realise that they're judged by what they actually do, not by PR stunts like this.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 756.

    @727 Yes it does work - if the desired result is a double-dip recession.

    What are we talking about here? Is this a coalition government tasked with the running of a nation or the latest tablet computer?! Do me a favour.

    Relaunch? Pah! Launch yourself to America if you're that insistant on privatising everything (especially the NHS) and brown-nosing the elitist/super-rich.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 755.

    The reason why many were glad to get a coalition was to see if it offered a way out of the LABCON impasse we have endured since since WWII.

    Economy aside (they're probably right about this being the only way), we desperately need a new, more representative, politics in this country & the coalition seemed like a way to get it started. But the Tories have thwarted real change & hope is fading fast.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 754.

    Felt sorry for the Labour supporter who has just asked Ed why his daughter has been on the housing list for over 20 years in Harrow,while been in employment all that time and paid her taxes,but didnt have the guts to say its down to one thing,and that is mass immigration brought in by the Labour party,please loony lefties get your heads out of the sand.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 753.

    No ifs, no buts, no maybes - after more than 20 years membership of the Lib Dems - I resign!

  • Comment number 752.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 751.

    732 - "Gordon also sold the 3G licences for a whopping £22 billion....that's many times more than was anticipated - get's forgotten that."

    Get's forgotten because we've nothing to show for it. Probably all got wizzed up against the wall on a computer system that didn't work or in employing an army of "5-a-Day" health food equal opportunity community advisers.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 750.

    The coalition are doing the right things for the position the country is in. This is causing a lot of discomfort but we only need to look to southern Europe to see how bad it could be. Bleating from the dissatisfied won't make any difference.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 749.

    @443 Walt78
    I think everyone on here would agree with you and that includes cross party non politicians and politicians of all parties that the deficit needs to be cut and spending reigned in. What people can see with this government is the way they are tackling the problem is not working and is the wrong way to do things and they are being too arrogant to admit their mistakes.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 748.

    Re-launches are for products

 

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