Published on 7 Jan 2013 Sections

Coalition’s ‘Ronseal’ pledge – but is it an empty promise?

David Cameron and Nick Clegg use the coalition’s mid-term report to commit to a Ronseal government that “does what it says on the tin”. But Labour dismisses it as “all empty promises”.

Speaking two and a half years after the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government was formed, David Cameron said the coalition was a “serious five-year commitment” and that “the road ahead won’t be easy”.

He said there had been issues “on which we disagree and doubtless there will be more in the months ahead”, adding: “But the key point is not whether you have disagreements, it is how you handle them.

“So over the next two and a half years it will, as far as we are concerned, be full steam ahead as we continue to put political partisanship to one side and do what is right to serve our country and its national interest.”


The government has published a 46-page document listing what it says has been achieved since the last election.

It includes reducing the budget deficit, described as “necessary and right”, reforming public services, improving school standards, freezing council tax and increasing income tax allowances.

Read more: The Ronseal coalition and a question of trust 

Detailed plans will be published before the summer for public spending for the 2015-16 fiscal year, which are expected to extend the age of austerity beyond the general election and effectively commit Conservatives and Lib Dems to a degree of shared economic policy after 2015.

Mr Cameron said: “Some people thought our coalition wouldn’t make it through our first Christmas, but this government is now well into its third year, because this coalition was not and is not some short-term arrangement,” he said.

“It is a serious five-year commitment to give our country strong, stable and determined leadership that we need for the long term.”

‘Big, bold’

Nick Clegg said the “big purpose” of the coalition remained the building of “a stronger economy in a fairer society”.

He said they had already delivered “big, bold, long-lasting reforms” that would stand the test of time and that it was the willingness to act in the long-term interests of the country which underpinned policy initiatives for the second half of the parliament.

In their document, Messrs Cameron and Clegg say: “We will support working families with their childcare costs. We will build more houses and make the dream of home ownership a reality for more people.

“We will set out plans for long-term investment in Britain’s transport infrastructure. We will set out two big reforms to provide dignity in old age: an improved state pension that rewards saving, and more help with the costs of long-term care.”

But Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “The problem is that if you’re a young person looking for work, if you’re a family whose living standards are being squeezed, if you’re a small business looking for a loan, today’s relaunch changes nothing.

“And actually what people need in tough times is a government on their side, fighting their corner, not a government that promised change and has actually made things worse, not better. That’s the problem with today’s relaunch.”

Referring to the government’s plans, Mr Miliband said: “It’s all empty promises, no real substance and no real detail.”