Lib Dem ‘anchor’ to weigh Tories down

By staff

Liberal Democrats will continue to defy Conservative right-wingers by keeping the coalition in the centre of British politics, Nick Clegg has pledged.

The deputy prime minister used his new year's message to party members to promise the Lib Dems will continue to fight Conservative backbenchers' impulses.

Clegg said Britain faced "some big challenges in 2013" after a 2012 which he hopes will be remembered more for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games than austerity and spending cuts.

"What I can tell you is that, whatever 2013 throws at us, the Liberal Democrats will continue to anchor this coalition in the centre ground," the deputy prime minister said.

"We will hold firm to our key purpose in this government: the Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy, in a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life."

Clegg has already revealed the coalition will carry out a belated midterm review in the new year.

The document will seek to legitimise some of the coalition's more controversial policies, like gay marriage, which have never received widespread backing from the Tory party's grassroots.

Next year's biggest test for the coalition could be the extended austerity programme. A comprehensive spending review will take place in the first six months of the year, leaving the Lib Dems agreeing joint spending plans continuing into the next parliament.

Clegg added: "We will stay the course on the deficit. We will cut income tax bills and help with childcare bills. We will invest in boosting jobs and we'll reform welfare to get people into work.

"A stronger economy – a fairer society, where everyone can get on. That's what we're about. That's what I want 2013 to be about."