Britain's coalition leaders seek to regain voters' trust

Sun Jan 6, 2013 7:02pm EST
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By Tim Castle

LONDON (Reuters) - The leaders of Britain's fractious coalition pledged on Monday to cap the cost of long-term care for the elderly and to improve state pensions in an effort to re-engage with electors midway into their five-year government.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and his Liberal Democrat deputy, Nick Clegg, have seen popular support fall away as voters suffer squeezed incomes and the economy fails to stage a stable recovery from the 2008/2009 financial crisis.

Despite trailing behind the opposition Labour party in polls, the two leaders said their alliance remained "steadfast and united" on its key aim of cutting Britain's deficit and restoring the economy to health.

In a joint statement to mark the halfway point of Britain's first coalition government since World War Two, Cameron and Clegg set out a series of domestic policy initiatives designed to quash talk that the partnership had run out of steam.

"Our mission is clear: to get Britain living within its means and earning its way in the world once again," they wrote in a review of the government's actions since it came to power in May 2010.

Without giving details, they promised to limit the amount the elderly pay for long-term healthcare, to reform state pensions, build more houses, help parents with childcare costs and find ways to boost investment in transport infrastructure.

Labour dismissed the mid-term review as "another relaunch" of the coalition, seen by many at its birth as an unstable marriage between the center-right Conservatives and the smaller center-left Liberal Democrat party.

In spite of sharp differences over issues such as political reform and Britain's relationship with the European Union, the alliance has held together, bound by a joint commitment to an austerity programme that has kept interest rates low.   Continued...

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (R) listen to the opposition after Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivered the autumn budget in parliament in London December 5, 2012. REUTERS/UK Parliament