Cameron and Clegg to renew vows

clegg-cameron-love– That, courtesy of the FT, is perhaps the most florid of a batch of headlines this morning concerning a “relaunch”, or at least a “resomething” of the coalition.

The FT article starts:

David Cameron and Nick Clegg will today alarm some in their own parties with a whole-hearted renewal of their coalition vows, in a midterm relaunch that includes a new drive to grapple with “holy grail” of cutting childcare costs.

The Guardian also uses the marital allegory with the headline: “Cameron and Clegg to renew their vows with “shared sense of purpose”:

David Cameron and Nick Clegg will today put aside talk of greater differentation between their two parties, launching a joint programme for the second half of parliament that will include greater help with childcare and for elderly people, and a striking declaration that “their sense of shared purpose has grown over time”…In a range of proposals designed to show the coalition has not run out of ideas, Cameron and Clegg will set out plans for a flat-rate childcare voucher paid through the tax system, likely to be worth up to £2,000 per child; a cap on the cost of social care, new help with mortgages, and transport investment through toll roads…There are also fresh plans for a flat-rate pension worth £140 a week, and more proposals to speed up housebuilding.

The i goes with “Cameron and Clegg relaunch coalition”.

The Sun online headline is “We’re back on the road” saying “Transport is key in big relaunch by Cameron and Clegg”:

DAVID Cameron is to launch a road and rail building drive to get Britain moving — and put the Coalition back on track.

With deputy Nick Clegg at his side, the PM is to unveil plans for a new network of pay-as-you-go highways to ease traffic blackspots.

Massive investment in the nation’s crumbling transport system is at the heart of a relaunch by the Coalition leaders this week.

Motorists using major routes could face an extra charge — but those who stick to B-roads and single-lane A-roads will get a cut in duty. Mr Cameron is also expected to approve the controversial £34billion HS2 rail link between London, Birmingham and Manchester. An insider said: “We’ll be consulting soon and hope to get things moving by the spring. Speeding up the transport network will cut costs and save time.”
In a rare joint appearance, the PM and Mr Clegg, above, will report at the halfway point of the five-year fixed-term parliament tomorrow. They will also launch a raft of new measures to show there is more to the Tory-Lib Dem pact than spending cuts.

These will include major reforms to pensions, action to cut youth unemployment and an overhaul of care for children and the elderly.

ITV News’ take on all this is “Mid-term review is significant moment for the coalition”:

Just because David Cameron and Nick Clegg share a platform, it does not mean tomorrow’s mid-term review is a relaunch, a Downing Street advisor told me.

But, I think that was a deliberate attempt to downplay what is a fairly significant moment for the coalition.

For all the noises from their backbenchers, the two men at the top of the government do think that this is the moment they need to show they are determined to see it through to 2015.

A deficit reduction does remain their top priority, there is still a gaping black hole in the nation’s finances but I think we are going to hear about reform of the pension system and how care for the elderly is funded.

If they can pull changes to that off, this will be fairly significant.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is a councillor and one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Simon Hebditch 7th Jan '13 - 9:42am

    Well, well – the coalition is even stronger today in its “shared vision”! The two parties are now signed up to a shared vision and political programme on what David Cameron has described as the most important issues facing the country. Differentiation will now only extend to other peripheral issues and the running sore of Europe. If there is such an alignment of shared visions (and presumably values?) for the next two + years and a joint commitment to central economic policies up to April 2018, I fail to see how a genuinely independent election campaign can be engineered. We are all in this together after all.

  • I think this is just a repetition of the heinous mistake made in May 2010 of presenting things as all smiles and not acknowledging the deep seated differences between the parties. It just gives more grist to the mill of those who say, wrongly, that the Lib Dems are just yellow Tories. Previously I thought Nick Clegg was just trying to be ultra professional in papering over the cracks between Tory and Lib Dem world views. More and more I now get the feeling that, stuck in the Westminster bubble, he actually does see the world in the same way as Cameron.

    After this latest move, I have finally changed my mind about Clegg. If there were a convincing alternative outside the Orange Book crowd, I would now support them for a leadership bid in 2014. Perhaps we could persuade Paddy Ashdown to make a comeback. He may be old (for UK politics at least), but he seems in very good health and he is streets ahead of any of the current crop in terms of gravitas.

    Come back Paddy. Your party needs you.

  • Tony Dawson 7th Jan '13 - 2:57pm

    @Simon Hebditch:

    “Well, well – the coalition is even stronger today in its “shared vision”! ………. We are all in this together after all.”

    In the constituencies that count, we shall continue to knock chunks out of our ‘partners’ very loudly and very publicly, regardless of what is going on centrally. Whether that will be enough to hold on to these seats, who knows.

  • David Allen 7th Jan '13 - 4:48pm

    “I fail to see how a genuinely independent election campaign can be engineered.”

    It will be a Condependent campaign, similar to that of the German FDP, with a remit to support but influence the programme of the next Coalition government.

    Cameron will try to maintain a Coalition government after 2015 even if he wins an absolute majority, because the Lib Dems offer a useful counterweight to UKIP and the pro-UKIP wing of his own party. Cameron has no interest in paying Clegg off with a top job in Europe. He has every interest in paying Clegg to stay on, by promising him a major job (probably Deputy again) should the Coalition win in 2015. Naturally Laws is in charge of the crucial manifesto. It wouldn’t do to have a Coalition – incompatible manifesto on the stocks.

    Of course, the longer the Old Lib Dems can be persuaded to stick around and keep delivering the leaflets, the better. Just look how well Blair did in retaining grudging support from Old Labour for so many years, even while he was kicking them in the teeth! A lovely role model for Clegg to follow.

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