Nick Clegg: This is an achieving coalition – with more to come

Sunday 03 April 2011 00:00 BST

Wednesday will mark the anniversary of Gordon Brown being driven to Buckingham Palace to call the 2010 general election.

For the Liberal Democrats, general elections had traditionally been seen as a rare opportunity to get the same kind of attention regularly enjoyed by Labour and the Conservatives; a chance to talk about policies that were often ignored because "they're never going to happen".

Fast forward a year, and something is happening that, for the Liberal Democrats, is a new experience: the policies we championed during the election are becoming reality. I don't mean that consultations are being announced, votes held, or papers published. Over the next few days, lives will be changed for the better, thanks to the introduction of policies for which we have long campaigned.

On Friday, our pupil premium was introduced. That's £625m, eventually rising to £2.5bn, to be spent on most disadvantaged pupils, so that all children get a better education. On Wednesday, our income tax reform will begin. Many will be lifted out of income tax altogether, while basic-rate taxpayers get a £200 tax cut in cash terms. On the same day, our promise to bring in a "triple guarantee" for pensioners will become a reality, meaning that pensioners retiring today will get, on average, £15,000 more in state pension over their retirement than under Labour. And every day, millions of homes receive their polling cards for next month's referendum on AV. Electoral reform had felt like an unattainable goal for decades: now voters are being given their first chance to get rid of the broken system that helped produce the expenses scandal.

There is more to come. This week, I'll be announcing how the Government plans to tackle the difficult issue of social mobility, because for all the old promises and spending on this issue, social mobility in our country has stagnated. These are not policies designed for the quick fix, but deep and lasting changes that build on concrete policies such as the pupil premium and will have an effect for generations.

The idea that coalitions can't work has been comprehensively debunked. It was always one of the great Westminster myths that people would be unable to understand how two parties could work together in government with professionalism and respect. In only 12 months, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have shown how two parties can come together in the national interest to clean up the mess left by a third.

There is always an urge with many people in politics to focus on the negatives. Arguments sell more papers than agreements, and "Government delivers on key policy" is never likely to make it to the top of the news bulletins. But when people talk about policies that the Liberal Democrats have not been able to implement from our election manifesto, we should proudly point to this week as an example of the things we have achieved in government.

As a party with 57 MPs, we have inevitably had to make compromises: that's how coalition works. But the compromises of coalition government are infinitely preferable to watching from the sidelines as others deliver on their own policies.

This time we are in government, and in a single year have pointed Britain towards a better future and changed politics for good. This week will show people just how much we are achieving. I look forward to many more like it.

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