Con-Lib, Lib-Con, Con-Dem, at first we didn’t know what to call them, we didn’t know what to expect, but more importantly many didn’t expect it to work. The general consensus was this hybrid party would be so disjointed that their major ideological differences would create an incoherent mess.
Fast forward 100 days and surprisingly things could not be more different. The coalition has wasted no time drawing up plans to transform the NHS, the educational system, the economy, and electoral reform. Although the novelty of the coalition has worn off they seem to have withstood the honeymoon period and thus encouraging us to take stock and review the past 100 days.
The issue of the economy is one thing that highlights just how united the coalition can be where matters of urgency are concerned. George Osborne, David Laws, and later Danny Alexander, have sung the convincing song that cuts must come first for growth to follow. Importantly it’s this song that the electorate feel as though we can accept, and indeed many of us are now singing along too. The budget cuts have helped to define the coalition, and conveniently, many of us feel as though we finally have a government that is not afraid to take bold steps to tackle a deficit that amounts to £155 billion.
Although uncertainty looms as to where exactly all the cuts will be made, talks of severity and hardship have not helped the coalition’s popularity. In fact recent ratings highlight that the honeymoon is very much over. However it is not the cuts themselves that are being criticised, but rather who will suffer the most as a result of the cuts. The poorest of society feel under attack with the current war on benefits. With MORI highlighting that £4 billion out of the £5 billion wasted on benefits is due to administrative errors, instead of fraudulent claims, it appears that this government isn’t getting everything right. In fact, the rapidity with which Cameron wishes to force austere measures through scares many who feel they will be left alone in troubled times.
The middle classes too feel under fire as the future of universal benefits is in jeopardy. With this in mind the key question here is how consumer spending will fair in this climate of cuts. Who can be relied upon to prop up the economy, indeed the private sector is suffering from the frugality of the banks. Whether we like to pretend or not the threat of a double dip recession is still very much real. Ignoring this fact will not change anything.
When it comes to political reform however unity is not a recurring theme within the g. A fixed term of five years is as far as the two parties have been able to agree upon. At present it appears that little is being done to establish a comprehensive agreement for electoral reform, a key issue for the basis of the coalition agreement. With this in mind as it stands the Liberal Democrats have not done enough to maintain their political identity and integrity. Whilst Cameron would face a backlash from his own party, if Clegg were to successfully fight for alternative voting his decision to unite with Cameron would finally be justified, and he would be revered. At the moment however Clegg is no longer solely determined to push for electoral reform. Last week he spoke about the subject ‘it is not my sole purpose of political life’; the coalition will continue if political reform does not come through. At this moment in time it seems as though Clegg has sold himself short and the identity of the party is being submerged to accommodate the opportunity to work alongside the Conservatives.
Although it is early days Cameron and Clegg are working at an astonishing rate to transform the country. This should be praised. The real test is yet to come however as the emergency spending review and the increased VAT rate starts to take effect; it will be interesting to see where the priories of this government lie.