The following comments were submitted to the Bexley Times last week for their feature on the first year of the Coalition Government, and the challenges in the coming year.
The Government’s achievements
Despite the tough economic and financial problems inherited from Labour, I believe that the Conservative-led Government is delivering the vital changes that Britain so desperately needs.
Chancellor George Osborne has restored credibility to the nation’s finances, taken Britain out of the economic danger zone and cut taxes for those on low incomes and for businesses. Michael Gove’s education policies have enabled hundreds of schools to obtain Academy freedoms, a pupil premium has been introduced to help poorer children and there is a new focus on standards and discipline.
Those who could work, should work, and Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms will prevent people avoiding work to live on benefits. State pension rises are now subject to a triple guarantee, meaning that they will rise by inflation, earnings or 2.5% – whichever is highest. Theresa May has introduced a strict limit on immigration and William Hague is legislating to ensure that any new EU treaty is subject to a referendum.
The number of apprenticeships is increasing, many quangos are being culled and the Government is listening to frontline professionals to see how NHS reforms can deliver better outcomes for patients.
The future of the Coalition
The coalition came together in an agreement to deal with the major issues facing the country and particularly the financial and economic crisis left by the Labour government.
Generally the two parties -the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats – are working well in government.
However there are always some tensions in any government and one only has to look at the great divisions in the Labour Party between the Blairites and Brown supporters to see a disunited government.
In the education department which I serve as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Michael Gove MP the Conservative Ministers and the Liberal Democrat Ministers are working unitedly and very successfully together.
Policies are discussed and presented and the result has been support for the pupil premium, standards and discipline, academy status and special education reform.
The differences are often matters of degree rather than principle but of course in a coalition there have to be compromises. Health and higher education policies are being subjected to further discussion and thought but I think these could result in better proposals.
I believe that the coalition is strong and will continue in the national interest. The electioneering statements will now cease and the coalition government will renew its focus on the issues that matter in a workmanlike and effective way.