I will be pleased to see the back of this coalition government. Under the cloak of dealing with the deficit they set about a vicious ideological attack on the poorest and most vulnerable. They branded those on benefits as 'cheats' at worse or 'welfare dependents' at best. They talked of 'welfare dependency' but did nothing to deal with the root causes of such 'dependency - low pay and poverty. The drove families from their homes because of a 'spare bedroom' - Nasty - very nasty. Hard working families made to take the brunt of austerity. As a result it has been the poorest who have taken the biggest hit in 'dealing with the deficit'. Austerity became synonymous with 'dealing with the deficit'. Yet austerity was an ideologically driven attack on social and welfare provision. The truth is that if we had 'all been in it together' then there would have been changes in taxes too. As it was it was one rule for the wealthy and another for the poor.
All this is why it is difficult to forgive Mr Clegg's Liberal Democrats. They presided over this too and should take full responsibility for it. But I suspect they will now attempt to distance themselves. I hope that does't work. Frankly they deserve to be hit, and hit badly by voters. Far from reigning back Tory excesses, they provided a cloak for it. Whilst they claimed to be holding the Tories in the centre ground they sat in cabinet watching the Tories run amok with welfare and benefits. They sat by and watched as the scandal of ATOS disability assessments kicked in - one of the biggest scandals of this government.
The Liberal Democrats will say that 'it was necessary' to address the deficit. But did it work? Did attacking the poorest work in cutting the deficit? No, it did not, which is why we now have the prospect of an election with 'cutting the deficit' as the main issue. And why did it fail? It failed because the government gave little attention to increasing revenues. Cutting too far too soon slowed economic recovery and cut revenue - that is the crucial reason the government have not met their deficit reduction targets.
With unemployment falling steadily you would think that revenue would increase. But the nature of the rise in employment - part time, casual, 'self employed', zero-hour contracts - does little to increase revenue. It is not a sign of success, it is a sign of underlying weakness in the economy that people can't be properly employed on decent wages. If they were, then incomes would rise and tax revenue would rise and the deficit fall. Instead we have the prospect of more and more cuts.