Coalition braces for broken promises shame

Cameron and Clegg's promises haven't all held true
Cameron and Clegg's promises haven't all held true
Alex Stevenson By

Ed Miliband has dismissed David Cameron as a "PR man who can't even do a relaunch" in PMQs, as the coalition faces another shambles over the release of its audit of broken pledges.

The detailed review of the government's successes and failures had been worked on since the autumn as part of the midterm review, launched on Monday, but is only now being released in embarrassing circumstances for the prime minister.

The 119-page line-by-line audit of progress on the government's original pledges had been promised by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg before Christmas, but disappointed experts by being absent from the midterm review document launched on Monday.

Miliband, resuming his opposition duties in the first prime minister's questions of 2013, suggested Cameron and Clegg's lack of transparency was a "far cry from the Rose Garden".

Cameron responded by insisting: "It is my decision it is being published this afternoon."

The Labour leader used the midterm review to attack the government on a range of fronts, including NHS reforms, sexual inequality, and the "tax cut for millionaires".

Cameron responded by rejecting the opposition's lack of policies, saying: "What a contrast between a government prepared to publish the information about every pledge and a party opposite which will not apologise for the mess it left the economy in."

Yesterday a No 10 adviser was photographed holding a copy of the restricted document, which feared publishing the annex would lead to "unfavourable coverage", the Telegraph reported.

The document outlined the pros and cons of publishing the annex, but noted such transparency would only lead to limited positive coverage from the press.

Dropping pledges, it suggested, could be "robustly argued" as being positive. It stated: "We can argue that this is evidence of a mature and responsible approach to government. This argument will not, however, hold water very easily for some of the abandoned pledges e.g. numbers of special advisers."

Work on the midterm review started in the autumn, Downing Street revealed this morning. There was no single issue which led to the delay in the publication of the audit.

No 10 claimed the 100-page audit was always going to be published, but had been delayed because "facts and figures" had to be checked.

"It's been a long-standing intention to publish this document," the prime minister's spokesperson said.

"It's a long document going through the coalition agreement line-by-line. We wanted to make sure all the facts and figures were copper-bottomed."

Even with the released audit, the midterm review has disappointed many of those hoping to see a broader, more ambitious reappraisal of the coalition's progress.

The Institute for Government thinktank's Peter Riddell and Akash Paun said the document was "much better than nothing" but said it could have been improved by being clearer on what the government's top priorities are.

They criticised the coalition for not providing more policy detail, explaining how the new promises would be linked to spending and outlining how they planned to deal with policy disagreements in the run-up to the 2015 election.

The pair concluded: "While as we have said, the review is welcome and, in broad thrust, about as much as could be expected politically given tensions within the two parties, it still falls short of what it could and should have been in establishing priorities, linking to spending constraints and giving a sense of the overall outcomes the government is seeking to achieve."

The prime minister's spokesperson added: "It's not a scorecard, it's a stocktake of progress." He summed up David Cameron's attitude towards the government's progress as being that there has been "a lot done, a lot still to do".


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