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
    +1

    Comment number 1267.

    "We are met with the task of cleaning up the mess left by the last labour governmmm meh meh meh"...Zzzz
    Oh please Tory and UKIP voters, you crossed that rubicon the day you decided to claim the first to quarters of growth as your own and not Alistair Darling's.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1266.

    1241. Have your say Rejected

    Well that could be said for every General Election. There is no argument. When did a government come to office with more than 50 % of the vote?

  • Comment number 1265.

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

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1264.

    If we don't cut our deficit our credit rating will be downgraded, we will then have to pay more to service our debt, we will need to make cuts just to meet this extra obligation without even scratching the surface of the deficit. So the options are;
    1) accept cuts and reduce deficit, or,
    2) get downgraded, endure cuts, no expansion of public spending & live with huge deficit.

    You decide...

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1263.

    1226.john wilson
    "Why can't compete in manufacturing, I worked in a factory where we were using machinery from the 1930's. Rather than invest in new equipment, dividends were paid to the shareholders"
    Totally agree I worked for a medium size company and the equipment and delivery vehicles were bought 2nd sometimes 4th hand always breaking down. The Directors had new Range Rovers every year

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1262.

    the big re-launch?,even Boris could'nt better this fool that he is,fools that we are even bothering to re-listen to thier tripe.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1261.

    1198.Durham_Red
    "Who know's what the next Gov't can afford?"

    Should have idea from past experience. If not a rather blind view of the future (lets close our eyes & follow the blind man!).

    "Besides the Tories have never needed an excuse to cut, they're following an outdated ideology, finishing what Thatcher started"

    If it was sustainable there would be no reason to cut.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1260.

    If you have a strong economy you have no worries about paying money back anymore than a successful company will sweat paying its lines of credit. Investment is needed for growth. Fiat money is the normal standard for currency. We are being scammed and bankers who use huge amounts of credit are trading intangibles like options. No money in circulation here in the UK.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1259.

    Funny, I'd have expected the coalition to be championing this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17952023
    rather than whittering on about re-launches.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1258.

    400.Arnold55555

    4 Hours ago

    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.

    I 100% concur

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1257.

    1244. paulinelove

    So, you think reneging on international treaty commitments is a good way of improving Britain's place in the world?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1256.

    Amazing how so many people still support this Coalition's 'welfare reforms'. Jobs are disappearing faster than the Tories' self confidence yet the average Brit still thinks it won't happen to them. No wonder nothing gets done here - we are too busy backbiting each other to stand up to the bullies in Parliament.
    Britain isn't so Great.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1255.

    Providing you are a millionaire, or went to Eton everythings great. You can have a tax cut
    Anyone moaning are just pasty eating pensioners..
    .

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1254.

    Has Dave told Nick what the agreed programme is yet?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1253.

    @ 1233.NaughtyNaughty

    "I work for a private company with public sector clients and I see first hand the amount of money that gets wasted"

    And I worked for the public sector and know the scale of wasteage. My belief is that if the public actually knew how public services were being run, most people would not pay their Council Tax in protest - it is really a major problem.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1252.

    Anyone who thinks the coalition has caused a double dip recession simply don’t understand how the economy works and how dependant we are on Europe. But they do need to do a lot more to improve conditions for growth which they are not doing now.
    Sadly for ALL of the parties it is the global macro-economic system that is calling the tune here and the global companies sitting on billions.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1251.

    CONDEMS: a 'new broom' to deal with the deficit and the fallout of the bank crisis.
    The casino banking system should have been subject to radical reform from day one. Instead they pick on the NHS.
    "We are spending more than we earn" - Foreign aid, IMF(euro bailout).
    "We're in it together" - Rich become richer. Corporate tax evasion.

    I'd rather hug a hoodie.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1250.

    #1174
    but I recognize that they are trying to get us out of a mess they were not responsible for causing.
    -------
    CN - They seem to lack ideas and appear to be unable to learn lessons.
    They are continuing the policy of bank/hedgie appeasement by failing to implement ICB recommendations.
    They are far too dogmatic ref privatisation - how much has Lansley wasted?
    Cuts, as part of a package ,yes.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1249.

    We all knew that computerisation would ultimately mean massive job losses.

    We are now feeling the impact of the internet on retail, efficiency savings within companies and govt department and imports from abroad (including fees paid to Amazon, ebay, Google etc not just goods from China).

    There are too many people in this country to sustain the massive IT transformation.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1248.

    Sandy 1201
    Too true. A re-launch is usually needed when things haven't gone as expected. Nevermind, they're going to roll up their sleeves and try harder. Not much better really. Kinda implies that they thought it would be easy and their inexperience has been cruelly exposed. No shame in admitting events have changed circumstances but this lot continue to insist they don't need to change anything

 

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