It’s tough at the top!

Posted on: 24 September 2010 by Editor at Large

Nick Clegg seems to be surviving the rigours of being both a party leader and Deputy Prime Minister, but I bet he never realised jus how difficult it would be.

At his party’s conference in Liverpool he made a robust defence of the cuts that will come in the October Spending Review. He called on the party faithful to keep their nerve a little longer and not duck the big issues that the country faces.

It must be a little bit like walking a tightrope. So far, so good.

Even so, his party is watching him closely and will pounce if he takes a wrong step.

The dissenters are already calling for the role of Deputy Prime Minister and Party Leader to be separate. The chance of this happening is remote (the Liberal Democrats are notoriously bad at mustering support and making decisions!)

The testing time will come when the cuts really start to bite and the effects are felt in all sectors of the community.

Clegg and Cameron are right: we have no right to leave this mess to future generations. We allowed Brown and co to spend the money we didn’t have. Now it's time to pay up.

If I were Nick Clegg, though, I would be thinking about my future career after politics. If the coalition works and the mess is sorted, the Tories will take the credit, go to the country and win the next election with a proper majority. If it fails, Cameron and Clegg are dead in the water. Either way, our Nick loses out.

We have a month to wait to see just how bad the cuts will be. My feeling is that the extent and depth of the cuts have been purposely overstated. I think most people will breathe a sigh of relief when the Spending Review is announced. Of course there will be pain, but much of it is going to be in areas that don't directly impact upon the public. Remember the old saying: ‘You don’t miss what you haven’t had!’

Jobs in the public sector will be lost. Still, the public sector doubled in size under Labour, so it is hardly surprising that it will be the first to be cut. The clever thing for Nick Clegg and Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander to do is to ensure the cuts have least effect on those who cannot afford any reduction of their living standard – pensioners, the disabled and the very poor. If anyone is able to pull this trick off then it is Nick and Danny from inside the coalition.

Best of luck boys!

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