Most people like politicians who behave like grown ups, governments where they spend time getting things done rather than fight with each other.
To be fair, I like that too. And for all our worries about some of the things this Government does, Liberal Democrat heads know that it’s much more functional than the last Labour lot, who spent more time at each other’s throats, virtually from the off in 1997 than actually doing anything useful.
My head is mostly proud of Nick Clegg (sort yourself out on secret courts and welfare, Nick, and I’ll be able to drop the mostly) for leading us into Government, getting our major policy priorities enacted and doing a mostly good job at holding the Tories back.
My heart gets a bit jittery and scared whenever it sees him and David Cameron look too chummy together. This, I suggest, is not only an entirely appropriate emotion for a Liberal Democrat, but also not incompatible with wanting the coalition government to succeed and do well. These appear contradictory emotions. They are. Nobody ever said this rollercoaster ride was going to be easy and uncomplicated.
Their cosy little press conference in Downing Street today was not, then, for my benefit as a Lib Dem activist. It was for the wider public who care about jobs and the cost of living and what’s going to happen to their parents when they can’t live independently any more. Oh, Liberal Democrat activists care about this kind of stuff too. We don’t live in a bubble where we’re sustained by hot air generated by discussion about electoral systems. Honestly. We just see it from a slightly different perspective where we can see all the electoral casualties behind us and the minefield ahead. It wasn’t for Peter Bone’s benefit either. He was well upset on BBC News Channel this morning, bemoaning the huge influence the Liberal Democrats have on this Government.
Nick did a great job outlining where we’ve done well – Steve Webb’s pensions triple lock which has led to the pension going up by over £7.50 in two years, cutting income taxes for those on low and middle incomes, the Green Investment Bank, investing Government money to boost the green economy, the youth contract and apprenticeships. He went on to outline what we will deliver on parental leave and the like. Why, oh why, no mention of mental health, though? Aargh!
Where I was less happy was where was using his carefully crafted “stronger economy in a fairer society helping people get on in life line” as a strapline for the Government. It doesn’t seem right to put all our narrative on a Government where we don’t win all the battles. It’s ok to say that’s what we’ve brought to the Government but not give away what he thinks our identity is.
Have a look at the whole mid term review here. I haven’t read it all yet – a teenage essay crisis and a list of Spanish words to cram for tomorrow has kept me busy on homework duty this evening – but two things I did notice earlier. There is no specific mention of closed material procedures. That may mean nothing, but it may mean that we have some wiggle room. And, the bloody Tory marriage tax break is back. Whether it’s there just to save their face and it won’t come to anything, I don’t know. I hope so. But the fact that it is there is pretty vomit inducing.
By the way, I can’t make up my mind who made the bigger idiot of himself today, Quentin Letts from the Daily Mail, or David Cameron. Letts asked a question about whether the Government was dumbing down universities in pretty dumbed down form, using the word swivel-eyed to describe someone And Cameron, who should never be allowed to talk about Scotland, got his referendum campaigns wrapped round his ears and called the pro-union campaign the Yes campaign. Then he called it the Alistair Darling campaign like the Tories weren’t part of it. I truly despair.