This first appeared on June 25th, 2012.
The past few days have provided plenty of evidence that the Liberal Democrats are stopping the Government from being more right wing.
On Friday, Michael Gove talking about taking the exam system back to the 1950’s. Today, David Cameron is making a speech about scrapping Housing Benefits for the under 25’s. Kites flown, and quick vetoes by the Lib Dems, about Regional Pay and “No fault” sackings.
All the press reports this morning have reiterated that David Cameron is making this speech as Conservative leader, to a Conservative audience, at a time when the Conservative Party feels under pressure. Proposals that might happen, after 2015, if the Tories win the next election. Proposals that can’t happen now because the Lib Dems aren’t happy with them.
That the PM wants to make a Tory speech for the next election campaign does not bother me. Sometimes we want Nick to differentiate us from them. I recognise that over recent weeks the Conservatives have had their own difficulties and need to reconnect with their core vote and some of their MPs. If they need the space to debate what should be in their manifesto, then I am relaxed about that.
For the record, I think that David Cameron is wrong on Housing Benefit. People should always be better off getting into work but there always needs to be a safety net for those who are unemployed.
But my priority, and the Liberal Democrats’ priority right now is to ensure that millionaires pay their fair share and stop short-changing the state whilst middle and low income tax payers pick up the bill.