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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  • Comment number 1127.

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

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1126.

    1091. aphoristic
    You Advocate Compulsory Voting?
    So you would force people to do something they don't want to do? and by doing so turn into the very thing that you say as a democrat you fight against, a dictator.
    You idea seems to imply that because no one is voting it is their fault when in fact it is the fault of all politicians, their lies, their greed, their self-service. Look there first.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1125.

    well well heard it all before. nothing changes same crapp as before and when cameron said nick will be here to look after things as i will be away travelling. he should be so lucky. he said that because he doesnt want to be here sorting out the business of the country and leaving it to his lacky i will never trust them their a bunch of liers and they dont care about anybody except their selves

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1124.

    @1093.Albert, thats because the nationalised industries were bloated and uncompetative with the likes of Germany. Did you know it was cheaper to buy and ship coal from Poland than it was to mine it in the uk. The unions held sway over an elected government and pretty much brought the country to its knees.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1123.

    Never mind their commitment to the coalition. How about some serious commitment to the majority of the UK population? hard pushed people suffer financially while the rich boys and girls enjoy their tax breaks.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1122.

    Will Clegg and Cameron please note that the rolled-up-sleeves, the 'trust me' gesturing, the "look", "listen" and "we've made this perfectly clear" psychology/PR stuff has all been done before, and much better. Being Blair clones will only get you so far. What we need is policies, not a stunt showing Blair Without The Strategies cosying up to Blair Without The Charisma.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1121.

    "Given the mess Labour left the country in it is surprising how many want to still support them."

    That'd be because we understand that it wasn't labour that put us here - a fact that's easy enough to confirm (even for the likes of you) if you just get your face out of the Daily Mail for a few minutes....

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1120.

    1075.CTR_Paul
    "Yet they've basically thrown a grenade in the NHS and it's going to cost billions - not save anything? Poor Policy?"
    ---
    On the NHS I cannot argue your point but I don't think it's just this government who has let it suffer! As for the other comment, let's just agree to disagree, I think there's some common ground there even if we believe the blame lies with a different party.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1119.

    1092.steve

    3 Minutes ago
    India ,has stronger Unions, greater employee protection, less unemployment higher wages and shorter hours for workers and lower paid executives

    And child labour, sweat shops and complete poverty. Aslo the gulf between rich and poor is far greater than here. But hey dont let the facts spoil your arguement.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1118.

    So what? Like many, many British citizens, I don't want the condems any more, This pair of comedians doing their act is of no interest, because they won't be changing their destructive policies one iota.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1117.

    @750 - spot on - all these people who talk about spending more, cutting less - where do they think the money is coming from. who is going to continually lend and at what interest rates - is anyone looki and at greece, portugal ireland etc - spain and italy next and heavan forbid France - you must think it really dioes grow on trees!

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 1116.

    has it not occured to DC that the main problem is his breaking of so many of his election promises? We needed the coalition to get shot of Labour, but that didn't mean DC had to hand the running of the country to Nick Clegg with his sixth form student policies. Growth should be the absolute main priority, sideline Clegg and everything else and get on with it Mr. Cameron.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1115.

    #1068
    the economy will grow organically, with the creation of real jobs in the private sector.
    --------
    Sounds great, like one of those fruity quality shampoos - trouble is we've been left with a greasy mop that looks like it's been washed in a fryer.

    Stories are stories no matter how often they're peddled.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1114.

    1063.Luddite1811
    You might want to have a closer look at how that american apporach is going, it certainly helped initially but the growth is drying up, the effect of increasing spending reducing and it really starting to look poor.
    The greeks and french havent woken up to anything they've backed the guys who told them what they wanted to hear! Retire early, more jobs, tax the rich etc

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1113.

    Would this be any different with Labour? Maybe, maybe not. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and we are where we are. This is not going to sort itself out. It will take YEARS (it took years to get into it, so it will take years to get out of it), and requires drastic measures from either side to fix this. It requires a mindset change from the people, no fix from any government will totally fix this.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1112.

    I would like the oposition to be pro-active and put forward costed policies for growth not just bleat from the sidelines about cuts. But then they are funded by the unions and Millibland was put in place by union double votes.

    In a time of crisis we need consensus not Punch & Judy. I feel sorry for Sarkozy, he lost to campaign promises holande cannot hope to keep.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1111.

    It is interesting seeing democracy at work. Greece and France vote for a softening if not a stop to austerity and virtually all pro-austerity posts here have a positive value. So surprise, surprise Turkeys aren't voting for Xmas. They are of course voting for chicks and not yet born chicks to have Christmas everyday. The caveat is rich Turkeys who shall have Xmas, Easter and Thanksgiving now.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1110.

    The trouble with a coalition is that policies are implemented to appease both parties, rather than one. Therefore, policies are watered down and at times become ineffective. We need a strong government where policies aren't disected, and the only way this can happen is with a majority government. I'm afraid we still have 3 more years of tooing and throwing and lacklustre progress.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1109.

    Like many I have concerns and misgivings over some policies but the alternative is Labour whose policies would devastate what little they left of the economy. Anyone want 16% mortgage rates?
    Plus Milliband with his opportunist 'ignore the facts' soundbites, has yet to make a point that bares even the slightest examination.
    Not much of a choice but give me Cameron and Clegg every time.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1108.

    1099.gman70
    "Blaming the previous Govt and anyone else for that matter is wholly embarrassing and inadequate"

    Which Gov is this about, they have all done it.

 

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