I think most commentators realised that once Cameron had sucked the Lib Dems in… he would start to spit them out in fine pieces. Despite the sops thrown to the more gullible Lib Dem supporters, this shows that Cameron is keen to get started straight away. Queen’s Speech shifts coalition plans back to Conservative agenda
The fine print of the 18-month legislative programme revealed that he had won a series of behind-the-scenes victories over his coalition partners. They included:
• a commitment to lower taxation, the first time since the coalition was formed that such a pledge has been made. Nick Clegg told The Times last week that the Government’s priority was to rebalance the tax burden, not to reduce it. Last week’s coalition programme promised “more competitive, simpler, greener and fairer” tax, but no mention of lower taxation;
• scope for George Osborne to keep rises in capital gains tax to a minimum. The Lib Dem policy — to increase CGT from 18 per cent to 40 per cent for top earners, in line with income tax rates — was trimmed in coalition talks. Last week the Government said rates would be “similar or close to” income tax rates. The Queen’s Speech documents water that down, saying that CGT will be taxed at rates “closer” to income tax;
• a reinstatement of the Tory election pledge to cut non-EU immigration to tens of thousands a year. The aim disappeared from the coalition programme as the Lib Dems accepted an undefined annual limit. The level is now back;
• pressing ahead with Tory plans for elected police commissioners, using the term for the first time since the election. The coalition agreement referred only to “directly elected individuals” by way of compromise with the Lib Dems who proposed directly elected police authorities.
Tory aides also made clear that a referendum on the alternative-voting system — the big Lib Dem win from the coalition negotiations — would not take place for up to three years and possibly longer.