As he stood shoulder with his ronseal partner to declare that all is well in coalition Government land, David Cameron yesterday told journalists that he would work hard to win the “arguments of both the head and the heart” in an effort to retain Scotland’s place within the Union. Good tub thumping stuff. The only problem is that Scotland simply isn’t listening to the omnishambles Government anymore as highlighted across this morning’s paper’s north of the border.
At the Scotsman, writing in his column, Peter Jones has outlined his belief that yesterday’s press conference demonstrated how little confidence both Cam and Clegg have in the UK’s economic future. Declaring that there was little in what they said to lift the “January gloom” he writes:
“I had hoped the review would give me reasons to be cheerful, but I heard little to lift the January gloom. The statements by David Cameron and Nick Clegg and the following press conference sounded more like two party leaders primarily concerned to convince themselves and their MPs that they are on the right track rather than to inspire the country that Britain is forging ahead.
“Asked directly whether Britain would avoid a triple-dip recession, both men avoided giving a direct “yes”. Mr Cameron only went as far as pointing out that most independent forecasts predict UK growth next year, but forbore to mention that the latest available consensus forecast is for a meagre 1.1 per cent growth in 2013.
“He then added that there were lots of uncertainties in the world economy, giving himself a get-out clause even if that doesn’t even happen. The message was pretty clear: neither the Prime Minister nor Deputy Prime Minister have much confidence about the economy.”
The Herlad’s editorial was equally worried about the direction that the two men at the top are taking the country, declaring in its opening paragraph:
“The promised six-point plan for the second half of the Coalition Government’s five-year term proved frustratingly lacking in detail as the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister delivered their mid-term review yesterday.”
“Caution was the watchword on implementing austerity from an unexpected source yesterday. Professor Ngaire Woods, a former independent adviser to the IMF, warned that the experience of the past 20 years showed that austerity measures should be implemented slowly to avoid a vicious circle. Her caution should be heeded.
“Messrs Cameron and Clegg are in it together until 2015 but, without convincing policies, theirs was not a reassuring message to a public that wants to see real help with the rising cost of living rather than grand schemes which may not be implemented before the General Election, even if flesh has been put on the bones.”
The Daily Record’s man in Westminster, Torcuil Crichton went on to dub yesterday’s event as a “stage managed stunt”. Speaking of the embarrassment of losing the Government’s Leader of the House of Lords he this morning concludes:
“Odd-job men David Cameron and Nick Clegg tried to varnish over cracks in their Coalition yesterday by claiming their pact was a “Ronseal deal” which “did what it said on the tin”.
“But their half-term report glossed over two-and-a-half years of brutal cuts, a sinking economy and broken promises.
“And the Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader’s stage-managed stunt turned into an embarrassment when they were given the brush-off by the shock resignation of Lord Strathclyde, the Tory leader of the House of Lords.”
Previewing meanwhile today’s vote to limit increases in a number of benefits to just 1%, the Daily Record’s editorial has accused the Government of “robbing the poor so that the wealthy will suffer less”. The paper notes:
“Tory chancellor George Osborne thought he would be clever by forcing a Commons vote to keep welfare increases at one per cent next year, and for two years after that.
“Osborne hoped he could portray Labour as the party supporting the feckless and workshy. But that myth about benefits is a myth entirely of the Tories’ making – and based on an utter distortion of reality.
“The majority of the people being hit by these cuts are striving people, who work hard and depend on the tax credit system to top up their wages.
“Osborne, Cameron and their stooges in the LibDems who should know better are effectively robbing the poor so that the wealthy suffer less.”