>I’m listening to the Clegg and Cameron news conference and have to nip out for the school run pretty much immediately afterwards so I thought I’d just type up a brief summary of what happened as it happened and hit publish. I probably won’t get a great opportunity to spill chuck so if it looks a mess, I apologise in advance.
Cameron starts by talking about Nick and I working together.
This is the first coalition in 65 years united behind 3 principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility and one purpose of giving Britain the strong, stable government it needs.
I’ve been appointing the Cabinet and I will be chairing National Security Council with Nick Clegg as my side.
Liberal Democrats will be represented at every level of government – representative of depth of coalition and shared desire to work together for the national interest.
No Government in modern times have ever been left with such a terrible economic inheritance – today’s unemployment figures are sign of the human cost of the mistakes of the past decade.
We are announcing a new politics where national interest takes precedence over party interest.
The agreement is for 5 years and we will act for long term.
We want to take power from politicians and give it to people. I’m delighted to be standing here with the new Deputy PM
We’ve just been through an election and now we have a coalition. We were rivals, and now we’re colleagues. It says a lot about the scale of the politics. It’s a radical and reforming government but it’s also stable.
Public finances are in a mess, society scarred by poverty and inequality, our troops involved in conflict, the economy has not yet got to its feet. This is what we have come together to provide.
There will be bumps and scrapes but this Government will last despite these differences because we have a job we want to do together in the next five years.
We want to change the lives of people and families for the better. For me liberalism is about making sure that people can live the life they want to live. To have the opportunities you crave. Fairer taxes, better schools, cleaner politics. I want this to be a bold, reforming government that puts fairness back into Britain, a government which hands back liberties and privacy, where fine words on the environment translated into action.
I came into politics to change politics and change Britain for good.
We all thought coalition was accidental result of election – you sound like it’s a mission. Could it last beyond this arrangement?
DC This is a 5 year arrangement for interests of country. We both had a choice – we looked at confidence and supply and had a meeting and thought this is so uninspiring but it’s not going to do what we came into politics to achieve. We want to sort things out. We looked at each other and wanted to aim for something bigger and better.
NC People told us that nobody deserved an outright majority. But also need stability so we tried to underpin a common purpose to our working together.
On the morning after the night before did you not think I’m hooked up to somebody I barely know? Are you going to do everything together
DC This is so much better than the alternatives. We can do so much to sort out the country’s problems. I felt inspired and excited.
This is not just 2 teams trying to work together. We are separate parties but we are trying to form 1 team and we will do things together.
What’s going to happen with PMQs? What about press conferences? What about political reform
Nick will stand in as Deputy PM at PMQs. Haven’t discussed press conferences.
The negotiating teams worked very well together – found good ways of resolving differences.
DC joked he’s looking forward to a lot of foreign travel so Nick can handle PMQs
Where will Nick Clegg function from?
Nick is going to be responsible for political reform. He will work in Cabinet Office. This is not going to be a partnership where we have to book meetings. Doors will be permanently open to each other.
Left of Lib Dems and right of Tories can’t hold together for very long.
If we can demonstrate this is a good government and we’re working well together, people will see that and respect it. What is politics? It’s all about public service in the national interest.
Always going to be sceptics and a million reasons not to try something new. We are both taking big risks. There was overwhelming support in my party for this cos we collectively recognised that this was the right thing to do for the country at this time
When once asked what your favourite joke was, you replied Nick Clegg.
Nick pretends to walk off in the huff as Cameron sheepishly says, yes I did that.
Asked about European Government
DC talked to Angela Merkel yesterday about European policy and coalitions.
He says we have resolved the issues which divide us.
Abolition of DTI would be largest act of deregulation – Vince said that in 2004
Things have changed since then and we need to rebuild British economy on new sustainable foundations. He will create new ideas about new forms of growth and innovation. He will be able to map out a vision of a new kind of economy.
If this is such a fantastic agreemetn for new politics, what would you have against PR?
DC I’ve made my feelings clear about PR, but I have gone the extra mile to try to build the coalition. It’s important to build the trust between the parties.
On point of 5 year parliament – is that an aspiration or will it be fixed in early legislation.
Given the range your parties represent are you going to whip severely?
Thirsk and Malton by-election Will you be encouraging your candidates to campaign against each other
DC We expect our parties to put up candidates and campaign reasonably
Fixed term parliaments going to be very early legislation
We have a strong majority together in Commons and Lords – people will want to take a stand on an issue sometimes but we want people to stick to coalition agreement and our whips can maybe learn things from each other.
This represents a significant change. It would not be a faintly radical thought in many countries that people can work together in Government but campaign separately.
Press Conference ends…………
This is just a quick impression from me – I found it incredible to see David Cameron describe how they had been trying to get agreement for a Confidence and Supply arrangement and then he and Nick Clegg looked at each other and decided that just sounded uninspiring and difficult and they wanted to do better.
It sounds like they’ve set up a cycle of inspiration and idealism between them in which they egg each other on.
There wasn’t much of substance to be honest in what they said, but what was interesting was the interaction between the two of them. In the time they’ve been holed up in negotiations, they seem to have discovered that they actually like each other and can work together. Well, that beats looking daggers at each other across a table. You don’t have to like your colleagues but it helps.
The bit where Nick Clegg threatened to walk off in the huff when confronted with something nasty Cameron had said about him was absolutely hilarious – and interesting because you need to feel relatively comfortable with someone to joke like that in public, let alone in private. Joking aside, Nick is particularly good at that kind of disarming, jokey banter to diffuse a situation.
Right – off to do the school run, but I have a hot date with the coalition agreement later. See you then.
I’m not naive enough to think that this is enough to sustain a working relationship, but it does help if the chemistry is good.