In an interview with Prospect Magazine, Nick Clegg has suggested that the decision not
to loan government money to Sheffield Forgemasters ‘could be revisited.’ When pressed on whether the decision to cancel the loan was an odd decision given the coalition’s stated
aim of rebalancing the economy and encouraging manufacturing. Clegg replied, “I agree. The trouble is the money that Labour had provided came from a budget in the business department that was
running on empty. The treasury and Vince Cable felt it wrong to take money from somewhere else. But the whole issue could be revisited.”
This strikes me as a dangerous thing to suggest. If the issue is not revisited, then Clegg will be accussed of a double-betrayal. But there are dangers in revisiting it as well.
The coalition must not allow the impression that it backtracks under media and political pressure to take hold. If it does, it will be far more difficult to implement the cuts that were set out in
the spending review.