Coalition Mid-Term Review

Resignation of top Tory lord leaves a stain on PM's 'Ronseal' relaunch

Cameron and Clegg insist coalition is 'steadfast and united'

David Cameron and Nick Clegg vowed today that the Coalition would last until polling day 2015, as they emphatically committed themselves to a full five-year deal for the first time.

The Prime Minister and his deputy put on a show of unity as they published a mid-term review of the Coalition's work since 2010 and flagged up imminent policy announcements on care for the elderly and childcare.

Mr Cameron said: "To me it's not a marriage, it's a Ronseal deal, it does what it says on the tin." But the relaunch was marred by the surprise resignation of Lord Strathclyde, the Leader of the Lords.

And the review was criticised for being thin on new detail. Michael Dugher, Labour's vice-chairman, said the "Ronseal" label breached the Trades Description Act. "It's now clear there is nothing in the tin," he said.

Despite the convincing united front shown by Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg at a rare joint press conference, it emerged that there are still differences between the Coalition parties on at least two of the six new policies they signalled yesterday.

On childcare, Mr Clegg is battling for an extension of the current system under which the state provides 15 hours of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds during school terms. He is arguing that it would give more help to low-income families than allowing families to write off childcare bills against tax, which is preferred by the Chancellor, George Osborne. The result is likely to be a package combining both elements.

The Liberal Democrats are also cautious about Tory plans for new motorways and trunk roads and improvements to existing ones to be funded by tolls. Mr Clegg's party fears a backlash from motorists but Mr Osborne is keen to press ahead. Their dispute means a public consultation exercise will be held that is likely to delay any toll roads until after the 2015 election.

The other four areas on which new policies are promised are:

* a cap, possibly £75,000, on what people must pay for long-term care;

* a new minimum basic state pension, likely to be at least £140 a week;

* more help for families who cannot raise the deposit for a mortgage; and

* measures to limit state powers and extend personal freedoms.

However, the cap on care costs and the minimum pension might not take effect until after the next election.

Other differences between the two leaders were evident at yesterday's launch. The review document included a clear hint that Mr Osborne will soon announce transferable tax allowances for married couples, a move opposed by the Liberal Democrats, who will be allowed to abstain.

The report also promised a Commons vote on plans for new electoral boundaries which could give the Tories an extra 20 seats, even though Mr Clegg has vowed to block them.

The Liberal Democrat leader backed plans to cap benefit rises at one per cent but criticised the language of Tory ministers accused of portraying claimants as "scroungers". He said: "I don't think it helps at all to try to portray that decision as one which divides one set of people against another, the deserving and the undeserving poor, people in work and out of work." The two leaders agreed – politely – to disagree on Europe, on which Mr Cameron will soon promise a referendum.

The two leaders were anxious to portray a business-like, professional relationship rather than the "marriage" they were happy to celebrate in the Downing Street Rose Garden when the Coalition was formed in 2010.

Expanding on the Ronseal comparison, Mr Cameron said: "We said we would come together, we said we would form a government, we said we would tackle these problems, we said we would get on with it in a mature and sensible way, and that is exactly what we have done."

Mr Clegg added that the Coalition was doing "what it said on the tin" – providing stable, effective government for five years. He insisted that would not stop the parties setting out their separate stalls for the 2015 election.

Mr Cameron dashed the hopes of Tory MPs who want the Coalition to end well before polling day. "Some people thought our Coalition wouldn't make it through our first Christmas, but this Government is now well into its third year, because this Coalition was not and is not some short-term arrangement," he said. "It is a serious five-year commitment to give our country strong, stable and determined leadership that we need for the long term."

Pressure groups attacked the absence of detail on social care and pensions. Ros Altmann, director of Saga, said: "The principles outlined in the Coalition's mid-term review sound good but where is any of the detail?"

Simon Gillespie, who chairs the Care and Support Alliance, said: "We now urgently need clarity and certainty on what the future holds for the crumbling social care system."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Proust as Captain Laure Berthaud in 'Spiral'
tvReview: Gritty, engaging and well-acted - it’s a wonder France’s biggest TV export isn’t broadcast on a more mainstream channel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Carmichael in still from Madam Bovary trailer
film
News
i100
Sport
Serena Williams holds the Australian Open title
sportAustralia Open 2015 final report
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing