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What did the Government get right in 2013? And what did it get wrong?

We asked our columnists this question and here's what they had to say


Grace Dent: Right: recognised that marriage equality for gay people was the cornerstone of a fairer, happier society. Wrong: sneered at food banks and the hungry individuals using them.  

Jane Merrick: Right: undoubtedly, the economy. George Osborne’s austerity strategy of last three years was proven right and recovery is underway. Wrong: the flipside of this is believing that the economy is protected from another housing bubble, which all the experts say it is not.

Archie Bland: I can't think of a nastier innovation than the new rule stating that you have to earn at least £18,600 to sponsor your spouse for a Visa: it will split up thousands of families, and distributes rights according to income. They got it right on gay marriage, and about time.

Lisa Markwell: I have measured support for the free school movement because it has allowed special schools for children with disabilities and different needs to be catered for (although in other aspects, education has been royally ballsed up). What it got wrong look as if it might have been right – Help to Buy fired up the property market, just as we needed… but it went too far and now we are in panic mode.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Stood up to populism and kept its international aid budget. The list is too long for what the Government got wrong - but worst of all was making poverty a crime.

John Rentoul: David Cameron's promise in January of a referendum on Europe was right in democratic principle and in historical necessity. The Help to Buy scheme by which government guaranteed home loans was stupid on stilts. 

Andreas Whittam Smith: Putting the plan to make a military intervention in Syria to a vote in the House of Commons and accepting the negative result.

Ellen E Jones: I'm very happy that legislation to allow same-sex marriage was passed this July.  Nick Clegg's Christmas card was also quite amusing. Wrong: pretty much everything else, but in particular exacerbating the housing crisis with Help to Buy and exacerbating poverty with the systematic dismantling of the welfare state.  

Stefano Hatfield: Right: keeping interest rates low, falling unemployment, presenting UK as a good place to do business for multi-nationals, reaching out to China, gay marriage, maintaining commitment to overseas aid. Wrong: Bedroom Tax, endless and incompetent tinkering with exam system, misguided A&E closures, HS2, failure to clamp down on zero hours contracts, blindness to wage poverty, blindness to housing market bubble and the suffering it causes, constant false dialogue about shirkers and immigrants, refusal to tackle Big Six energy providers.

Owen Jones: Right: the lifting of the ban on same-sex couples marrying. The fact this happened with the Tories in office - despite their history of supporting homophobic laws, and many of their MPs being stuck in the 18th century - shows how far this country has come. But the real credit should go to the LGBT activists, often airbrushed out of history, who fought for equality despite facing ridicule and persecution, and at great cost and sacrifice to themselves. Wrong: Virtually everything else. A quarter of women in work now slave away for poverty wages. Half a million people depend on food banks. A million families a month are dependent on another booming industry, legal loan sharks. The Big Six energy companies are able to hold millions of consumers to ransom. The jobs being created are low-wage, temporary, zero-hour or part-time. This is also the worst so-called economic recovery for over a century. The sooner we get rid of this rabble, the better.

Read our columnists' answers to these questions:

What will 2013 be remembered for?

Who is your person of the year?

What’s the best thing you’ve read this year?