Leaders: Coalition is built to last
On the eve of Parliament's return after the summer recess, David Cameron and Nick Clegg insisted the coalition Government they have created is "built to last" for a full five years.
After the "factionalism and backbiting" of the last Labour administration, exposed in memoirs by Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson, the coalition is delivering "modern, responsible politics", the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister claimed in a joint article for the Sunday Telegraph.
And they accused Labour of "opposition for opposition's sake", citing the party's plan to vote against a bill to introduce the Alternative Vote for Westminster elections on Monday, despite the reform having been in its manifesto.
The strength of the coalition has begun to be tested in recent weeks by rumbles of discontent from Liberal Democrat ranks over public spending cuts and backbench Conservative opposition to a referendum on AV.
But Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg insisted that the unprecedented Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition will be able to deliver "stable and strong Government".
They said: "We have no doubt that our Government, like any Government, will face exceptional pressures. But we are turning a page on the poisonous culture of infighting which drained the previous Government of purpose.
"We remain united in the view that two parties, coming together in a sincere attempt to provide stable and strong Government at a time when the country is facing huge challenges, can be more than the sum of their parts."
Far from being a recipe for a "fragile" administration and "soggy compromise", as some predicted, the blend of Tory and Lib Dem policies had "produced more, not less radicalism", they said.
They defended plans for a swift reduction in the deficit, which will see the bulk of Whitehall departments ordered to deliver cuts averaging 33% over four years in next month's spending review.
"The times ahead will be incredibly difficult for our country, but the prize is this: interest rates lower for longer, confidence restored in our economy, and a recovery locked in," said Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg.