Christmas is Christmas – and this year, as in every other previous year I can remember, I took Christmas Day off entirely.
But while other people were eating up the remains of turkey and Christmas pudding, I was very firmly back at work – preparing the Coalition Government’s Mid Term Review.
These things are labours of love.
In any government, it is no easy task to look back over two and a half years’ activity, capture all the main things done, and set out all the main things you intend to do over the second half of the parliament. But, in a Coalition, this becomes a great deal more difficult – though, in some ways, a great deal more rewarding, too. You have to negotiate every phrase and think very hard about the balance of the document as a whole.
One of the surprising things about the exercise is just how much activity it revealed. When we started listing out all the measures we had taken to cure the deficit, rebalance the economy, reform public services, decentralise power, enhance the environment, and strengthen Britain’s position in the world, it made me realise why I was feeling quite tired as Christmas approached.
The second surprising thing was the extent to which, despite the marked difference between the two Coalition parties and the fact that we have been co-habiting for two and a half years in the face of considerable difficulty, we are still able to have a thoroughly workmanlike and civilised discussion about a whole range of policies to be carried through during the next two and a half years – not least new policy directions to make it more worthwhile for people to work and save, to improve our infrastructure, to make it easier for people to find home, and to enlarge people’s freedom.
There is no doubt that Britain has considerable challenges in the years ahead if we are to compete effectively in the global race and enable our citizens to fulfil their aspirations – but I am happy to be able to report at the beginning of this year that the Coalition is still very much on the job!