Coalition accused of ‘cover-up’ over audit of record in power

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The Government has published an audit of its own record in power, which Downing Street claimed shows the coalition had achieved or made progress towards the “vast majority” of pledges it made when it took office in 2010.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the 119-page assessment gave a “full, frank...and completely unvarnished” assessment of its performance and showed “a record to be proud of”.

But Labour dismissed the document as a “cover-up”, which made no mention of the double-dip recession and missed borrowing targets, while glossing over issues like the controversial reorganisation of the NHS and tax cuts for the wealthy.

At the first session of Prime Minister’s Questions of 2013, Labour leader Ed Miliband branded Mr Cameron “a PR man who can’t even do a relaunch”, adding: “Half-way through this Parliament we know they are incompetent, they break their promises and the nasty party is back.”

And the Institute for Government think-tank said the document fell short of the kind of audit it had been calling for and lacked credibility because of the absence of independent scrutiny.

The audit, entitled Programme for Government Update, was produced as an annexe to the coalition’s Mid-Term Review but went unmentioned when Mr Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched the review with great fanfare on Monday.

Its existence only came to light when one of the Prime Minister’s aides was spotted carrying a document which appeared to suggest publication had been delayed to avoid overshadowing hoped-
for favourable coverage of the MTR.

Conservative chairman Grant Shapps said the delay was due to the need to fact-check the 36,000-word document.

But Labour vice-chair Michael Dugher said: “The document David Cameron tried and failed to cover up is now itself a cover-up.

“There’s no mention of his Government’s failure on growth, of the double-dip recession or of £212bn extra borrowing. It tries to gloss over David Cameron’s broken promises on the £3bn NHS reorganisation and 7,000 fewer nurses, and doesn’t even mention his tax cut worth £107,000 for 8,000 millionaires while millions of hard-working families on low and middle incomes are paying more.

“This is a Government that lurches from failure to fiasco. They promised change but things are getting worse, not better, and they stand up for the wrong people.”

The report details progress made on all 399 promises made in the 2010 Coalition Agreement but no figures are provided on how many promises have been kept and there is no classification of pledges to indicate where Ministers feel they have fulfilled or missed a promise or still have progress to make.

Among the areas where the audit appears to acknowledge the Government has fallen short of initial promises were:

“Early legislation” to create a power for voters to recall misbehaving MPs, which ministers are still “considering”;

Plans to create directly-elected mayors in 12 English cities, which were rejected by voters in a series of referendums;

A commitment to seek to increase the target for energy from renewable sources, which has not been raised despite the advice of a Commons committee;

A pledge to maintain the target of ending child poverty, which is now subject to a consultation on changing the measurement.

Mr Shapps said: “I think we have been honest about the things we haven’t been able to do.

“Some things we set out to do and we did do – things like cutting the deficit by a quarter or capping welfare or getting immigration down by a quarter or cutting crime by ten per cent.”