Coffee House

JET — three letters that spell trouble for the coalition

10 March 2012

JEET. That, according to Andrew Grice "">in the Independent, is the new ‘buzzword’ circling
around Libdemville (population: 57 MPs, and a few others). And it stands for the issues that they want to keep mentioning whenever they can: jobs, education, environment and tax. Fair enough.
Although it is striking that only one of these issues is unlikely to put them in close combat with the Tories. Both parties of the coalition support free schools and academies, and the Lib Dems are
getting their pupil premium too, so education is relatively uncontroversial territory. But as for the others…

Jobs. The conflict here focuses on the role of the state. As George Osborne’s "">support for the Beecroft proposals shows, he’d rather that employers were left to get on and employ
(or unemploy) as they see fit. But that sits uncomfortably with Lib Dems like Vince Cable, who describes Tory calls for greater labour market deregulation as ‘ridiculous,’ in a pugnacious interview
with the Guardian today.


Environment. Isn’t the environment a major Cameroonian cause? Well, maybe – but the Tories’ greenery has rather paled over recent years, as the economy has become their overriding
concern. Take Boris Island. The Prime Minister, once opposed to the idea, has now given
his ‘provisional support’ to it; whereas Nick Clegg is still not keen. And that’s before we get onto differences over energy policy.

Tax. We all know about the tax demands that the Lib Dems have been making over the past few weeks, and today Nick Clegg "">comes up with another one in interview with the Daily Telegraph. Of all the scraps
between the Tories and the Lib Dems this is that one that threatens to become the most poisonous. The Lib Dems are (again, according to
"">Andrew Grice) trying to sell themselves as the true
‘One Nation’ party of the coalition, looking out for everyone, and the Tories as a party representing well-off vested interests.

As per Richard Reeves’ graph, it seems that differentiation is on the up and up.
Let’s see whether ‘government unity and strength’ goes down in reaction.

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  • TomTom

    Bellevue, Syria ? I was more interested in how International Women’s Day was handled in Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Saudi Arabia – those zones of NATO-induced tranquillity and harmony

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Bellevue, it is clear that the comfort zone of the Spectator is getting smaller as time goes on. Party conferences, snide briefings, Question Time, PMQs and the occasional thinktankprop piece. For anything else look elsewhere. Standpoint, The Commentator, Zerohedge. Eureferendum, or the comments here.

  • Bellevue

    We read (but NOT on the spectator blog) about appalling corruption, as in… civil servants being paid back pay and ‘bonuses’ if they go along with this ‘bailout’. I must admit, that I dont understand the half of it – which is why I have been checking up on your website for explanations. And I find not a tittle, a tweet, NOTHING about what is going on there. You give us endless talk about the USA elections, and what is going on in Syria. I dont CARE about that. I want to know what is going on on my doorstep.
    Is that too difficult for you??? Sheesh! I used to go to you first for breaking news, but now I dont. All you give us is what is happening in the Lib Dem spring conference. You are as bad as the MSM – ie. dont expect to LEARN anything about anything from your blog.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    When you put up some daft acronym as a slogan, you lay yourself open to alternative explanations. I suggest Jeering, Envy, Extra Taxation. Anyone else care to try? It will be more fun than reading the dismal array of posts we’ve had lately.

  • daniel maris


    I have mentioned that. Seems the Spectator were prepared to write any number of articles about Greece being about to leave the Euro, but don’t want to comment on it NOT leaving the Euro (as I predicted some months ago, having factored in the determination of the European elite to keep the Euro hanging together).

  • Bellevue

    Sorry to go ‘off topic’….. but when the hell are you Spectator guys going to say something about the situation in Greece???

  • TomTom

    Super that Education is not “controversial”. Is that because it is agreed it is total cra@p? Unless they get some real selection into the system and proper exams instead of this ‘teaching to test’ rubbish, it will be simply too late.

    Education increasingly confers only disadvantage on children in State Schools and demotivates them. There is however no sense of crisis, sadly

  • MilkSnatcher

    Cameron tacked to the centre in 2010 and that produced a Conservative minority; the LibDems now tack to the left chasing after the Labour votes they have lost, and this will produce electoral disaster for them as there is little point in voting Libe Dem when you can vote Labour; Ed Miliband tacks to the left to keep ahead of the LibDems and to ingratiate himself with his Union paymasters. I wonder what would happen if the Tories now tacked to the right.

  • Axstane

    It could be useful if the LibDems actually produced an idea that would increase employment if they are really interested in jobs.

    The rich employ people as well Mr Clegg, Mr Cable. Apart from those they employ in the businesses that many of them founded or built up they also provide a large reservoir of employment for the building and mainteanace industries. Then, and I can see this will cause some sneers, they employ nannies, maids, cooks, chauffeurs, gardeners and the like. So when the rich have all been ground down it will be discovered as it was after the French Revolution that tens of thousands will no longer had jobs.

  • Koakona

    Cameron and Osbourne should start pushing more Tory proposals down their throat. They seem happy enough to march quickly to their electoral oblivion, why wait until 2015 when we could see the LibDumbs quit the government and bring about an election this year or next.

    Alternatively I am not completely closed to the idea of the orange book liberals merging with the tories, just need a way of disconnecting them from the nutbag left whingers.

  • Shinsei67

    Did Cable really say that he didn’t want “HIRING and firing” made easier ? He’s getting even more confused that I had thought. Surely he’s keen on the hiring part.

    As I’ve said before on this site my conversations with small business people is that the current legislation dealing with firing people involves a bit of clerical work and time but that it isn’t anywhere close to being a major obstacle to hiring new staff.

    High taxes, planning restrictions, unnecessary health & safety requirements and lack of skilled staff are all far more of an immediate problem.

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