The tricky third year

Yesterday battered, weathered and forlorn, but “with a full tank of gas” (the good stuff too), the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister took to their lecterns in Number 10 to present their mid-term review. Because of fixed term parliaments we can expect more of these business-style reports. Voters as shareholders. Ugh!

David Cameron and Nick Clegg still look uneasy together. You hardly ever see them together on screen, although as part of the Quad they evidently get on and work well together. But on screen – holding the history of their parties on their shoulders they just look incongruous. It always feels to me that the country almost thinks “I wish we’d properly decided.” But that’s probably just my prejudices coming through.

The mid-term review plays back the Coalition’s story so far – sprinkled with a goodly amount of propaganda to really needle the Labour reader. I imagine the authors chuckling to themselves as they say for the tenth time “the deficit was spiralling out of control”. Blood pressure spike for Mr Balls!

Especially when you recall Labour’s manifesto pledge to have the deficit down by £34bn by this stage of the Parliament. Mr Osborne seems pleased with £25bn.

Anyway – in short – it’s not a rip-roaring read, but is a good place for PRs to see exactly what floats this government’s boat and where it sees its success. It’s a little show of ankle on the inner workings so worth mulling over a flat white.

What’s clear is that there’s been a lot of prep. Police Commissioners now in place, investment in infrastructure projects delivered, more money to drive regional growth, legislation coming forward on banking.

The universal credit is about to bite. GP commissioning is being established and the pupil premium is now being rolled out.

Prep, prep, prep. The problem for this coalition is that change is unlikely to be felt until well into the next term. So as the wheels of government grind slowly into action the vacuum is filled by pressure groups and the media speculating on how the policies will turn out. All very frustrating for a government which, in its beginnings wanted “sunshine to rule the day”.

So expect delivery to be the watchword in 2013. It’s going to be a difficult, sober year for the coalition.

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