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David Cameron disagrees with Nick Clegg on capital spending

25 January 2013

25 January 2013

Nick Clegg was apparently just being self-critical in his House magazine interview when he said the Coalition hadn’t got it right from the beginning on infrastructure. Those close to the Deputy Prime Minister are insisting that though speaking out on economic policy remains unusual in the Coalition, he was simply pointing out what has actually happened, with the government now offering more on capital spending.

But at this morning’s lobby briefing, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman didn’t exactly take that same tone.

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‘The Prime Minister’s view is that it was the right decision to have made,’ he said, pointing to increases in infrastructure spending in the last two autumn statements. ‘More already is being done,’ the spokesman added.

He added that the Prime Minister’s ‘view is that we have absolutely the right economic policy’.

Even though Clegg wasn’t trying to launch some savage attack on his Tory counterparts, Labour has been crouching in the long grass like a big cat waiting for an admission like this to come along. The party pounced on the interview:  Rachel Reeves last night said this was ‘the first admission that this government has made serious mistakes on the economy’, adding that Labour has already urged the government to do more. The opposition can now claim that the Deputy Prime Minister shares Labour’s concerns about spending.

The government says it is already doing more, but Clegg was being pretty naive if he didn’t expect that being ‘self-critical’ about the economy a few hours before GDP figures that economists had expected would be bad were published would cause a stir.


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  • SmithersJones2013

    Labour has been crouching in the long grass like a big cat waiting for an admission like this to come along

    Bagpuss?

  • SmithersJones2013

    Nick Clegg. The poster boy for everything that is wrong with coalition government or he would be if Oakeshott, Cable,Davey, Huhne, Hughes, Farron, Teather, Featherstone, Ashdown, Williams, Rennard and most of the Liberal Democrat Party weren’t even better examples.

    • http://twitter.com/robvsnature Rob Broome

      Thank god for Alexander and Laws. At least they have more than a passing acquaintance with reality. It’s a mystery how they ended up as Libdems in the first place.

  • Tim

    Post modern government

    I am in the government but I reserve the right to criticise the government as though I weren’t.

    Spineless, disloyal buffoon.

  • http://twitter.com/robvsnature Rob Broome

    Every time Nick Clegg gives an interview my respect for him diminishes. The Libdems are a spineless bunch.

    The real reasons that the economy has faltered are two.

    Firstly, the eurozone. Since the general election the eurozone has dropped like a stone. Our biggest export market is in turmoil with only smoke and mirrors giving the pretence that they can be kept afloat.

    And secondly, the housing market and associated cost of living. The simple fact is that house prices need to fall drastically (10% plus) as well as rental costs. But unfortunately overstretched homeowners losing their houses and falling house prices is political suicide to any political party that saw it happen on their watch and so none of them will accept it. The buy-to-let trend has been a disaster and has been partly what has caused the housing benefits boom as the state has subsidised landlords’ acquisitions of increasing amounts of property.

    • Howard Royse

      Agree with your first point, but the second is not a significant reason.
      Clegg, unusually and very late, has a point. The cuts were applied to the easy targets such as capital spend, to address the deficit. The cowards should have dealt with the real and recurring costs, ie inflated public sector departments full of overpaid twats talking about work and producing damn all.

  • Rhoda Klapp2

    Is this the doctrine of collective irresponsiblity? Once they get gay marriage will the economy move a little higher on the scale of priorities?

  • Colonel Mustard

    Does Deputy Prime Minister Clegg do anything other than wait for the Prime Minister to say something then publicly disagree with or denounce it? Is he supposed to be like the slave in the chariot or are the Lib Dems already on manoeuvres for a “progressive” rainbow alliance with their old chums the Labour party?

  • HJ777

    “Labour has been crouching in the long grass like a big cat waiting for an admission like this to come along. The party pounced on the interview: Rachel Reeves last night said this was ‘the first admission that this government has made serious mistakes on the economy’ ”

    I’d be rather more impressed if Labour first admitted that it had made serious mistakes on the economy, the consequences of which we are living with, and will continue to live with, for many years

    • Noa

      Yet why did Clegg say it now? Is it part of his attempt at establishing a rapprochement with Miliband? Or to distance the Lib Dems from the consequences of their own signed up to commitments, however ineffectual?
      It seems, primarily, to be another nail in the lid of the Coalition’s coffin.

      • HJ777

        On this occasion, I suspect that it is his real opinion.

        Of course, all the coalition did in its first two years when it came to capital (infrastructure) spending was to implement the plans it inherited from Labour.

        Personally my view is that there will always be differences of view in a coalition and the coalition is more likely to endure if they are open about them.

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