Better off together than apart

Nick Clegg and David Camerob

It was not perhaps the most romantic of locations to renew their political vows but today, in a railway depot in Birmingham, David Cameron and Nick Clegg did just that.

Insisting, once again, that they, their parties and the country were better off with them together than apart.

The prime minister rejected my suggestion that they resembled a warring couple who've tried to reassure people they were staying together for the sake of the children.

Today was all about emphasising what they do agree on - what David Cameron calls their shared purpose, mission and agenda. First and foremost it is economic but embraces the reform of health and education too.

They refused, though, to answer hard questions about what they do not agree on - in particular, how to resolve the row about reforming the House of Lords which has led the Lib Dems to make increasingly uncoded threats.

If the Tories don't deliver, they warn, they'll retaliate by refusing to vote to shrink the size of the Commons - a reduction in the number of MPs which would, it's estimated, make it easier for the Conservatives to win an election on their own.

It is that which is leading some on both sides to talk about divorce.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 140.


    But saga, you've said that everyone should do all they can to avoid taxes by all legal means no matter how close to the line and artificial the schemes are.

    You have said that.

    It's exactly what you think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.


    “It will surprise you then to learn that debt only reached its trend rate of 35-40% of gdp in 1988”

    No surprise bryers, I was aware of that @24 yrs ago. - Also no surprise that you didn’t comment on the 2 points that I put to you.

    JMK’s message was simple; borrow in recession, pay back in growth.

    Unfortunately though, too complicated for Brown / Balls

  • Comment number 138.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.


    Sorry, I understood you to mean between the wars.

    Yes, there'd have been unrest after WWII without reform, though how far this might have gone isn't plain to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.


    It was the service vote that sealed the Labour victory.

    Twenty years of depression and then a bloody war.You don`t think they were angry? London,Glasgow,Coventry,Birmingham,Southampton Liverpool,Portsmouth front line cities and you don`t think they were angry.

    Without reforms there would have been revolution

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.


    Shock,horror.`Borrowing after fifteen years if growth.`

    It will surprise you then to learn that debt only reached its trend rate of 35-40% of gdp in 1988, having slowly fallen from its wartime peak.

    With fluctuations the economy grew, but debt was 63% of GDP in 1970,roughly today`s figure if you factor out bank lending which takes it up to 148%


  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Who in the BBC is going to ask Mr Cameron about his Trade Minister and why he should be in still in his job and WHY should he be in the Cabinet banking committee which is charged with coming up with ideas for reforming the industry? After all, was he not HSBC, Chairman when HSBC laundered billions of dollars on behalf of the Mexican drug gangs.!!
    What say you, Nick?

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    JB @ 118

    Plus several key factors not related to Brown. Don't forget those otherwise you'll end up overblaming him, i.e. misdiagnosing, and no-one wants to see that.

    And yes, of course, that's generally speaking and ceteris paris bus correct what you say: the higher (lower) our public indebtedness before a crash, the harder (easier) it is to rack up more government debt during and after it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.


    "...Without reforms there would have been revolution..."


    Sadly almost all the potential revolutionaries, in the UK and Germany, were killed in WWI. (Some say that's why they were sent to wipe each other out). When the next generation grew, they were enlisted for more of the same...

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    I say adapt to survive because after WW1 the UK economy had a 20 year depression lasting from 1920 to 1939 with unemployment between 8% and 16% and nominal GDP only reaching its 1920 figure in 1939.

    They cut spending post war,did so again when the recession deepened in 1920-1934.It was lack of knowledge,we don`t have that excuse now,

    Without reforms there would have been revolution.

  • Comment number 130.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.


    Deficits fluctuate around trend growth rates but don`t inhibit growth if the right policies are in place.Nor does high pubic debt,the hysteria is politically driven and ignorant.

    JB:A different economy,but given the weight of debt,a welfare state was created,debt paid down,with growth,a new welfare state and political consensus

    The lesson is adapt to survive,don`t retreat to the 1930s.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    #124 b

    B, are you aware you can now transfer money over the internet? Don't have to visit a bank.

    The internet? Er, Google it.


  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    So they cynically adopted a policy that they didn't really believe in because they perceived public mood was for it. Quite. Same thing goes part way to explaining why New Labour failed in many areas. Sadly the need to be in power trumps even national need which kinda brings us back to the topic of the blog.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    #124 "A keynesian economy,it was growing"

    You appear to be defining a Keynesian economy as one in which there is a perpetual budget deficit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.


    2 points bryers

    Post WWII, few countries were industrialised. The UK was & with the USA could expand to meet global demand in manufactured goods. Completely different situation now!

    Keynes would not have envisaged a scenario where a country was still borrowing after 15 yrs of growth. Didn’t he argue that debt should be paid down during the good yrs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Put debt and deficit in proportion.In 1945,public debt was 247% of GDP,(£9.9 billion).In 1950 Debt was 193% of GDP (£13,3 billion. Debt fell below 100% of GDP in 1962,the first time since 1918,but GDP was £27.4 billion.By 1973-5,the first serious post war recession,GDP was £74 billion. From 1950,eficits averaged 3% of GDP,the figure for 2007-8

    A keynesian economy,it was growing..

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.


    There’s no mileage in pointing at the heir to Blair, he was just repeating the Master’s ‘we’ll match spending for two yrs‘trick

    And, I didn’t say it didn’t matter, If Labour thought they had the mandate, then they should have increased taxes to fund it. But they didn’t, did they? - Why?

    They certainly didn’t have a mandate to increase debt though!

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    You seem to have moved the goalposts (post rather than pre crisis deficit). But never mind since it illustrates my point perfectly. Something pretty dire happened around 2008/9 that changed the game. What we need to discuss is whether the Coalition who have now taken up the baton have helped or hindered.
    J_B Public mood doesn't matter? DC and GO 'we'll increase public spend' didn't agree.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.


    “they've learnt nothing, and given the chance they would do it all again”

    Unless they acknowledge the blindingly obvious, then that is the only conclusion that we can draw.


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