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Page last updated at 06:44 GMT, Wednesday, 11 May 2011 07:44 UK

Coalition 'more radical than Thatcher'

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One year on from the formation of the coalition, a string of rows over health, AV and tuition fees have tested the nerve of the Lib Dems and Conservatives.

The very fact that Nick Clegg has been forced to state that he would never join the Conservative Party shows just how difficult the coalition has been.

The deputy prime minister "has learned a lot, in a very unpleasant way, in the last year", Lib Dem peer Baroness Williams told chief political correspondent Norman Smith.

The important thing, according to former Lib Dem leader Sir Ming Campbell, was that his party had to take credit for the implementation of substantial parts of the Lib Dem manifesto.

"This is a partnership in which we are entitled to profit," he said.

Conservatives too believe the coalition deserves credit. Former Tory leader Michael Howard gives them "full marks" for the way they have handled the deficit.

But perhaps the true significance of the coalition, according to Michael Portillo, is that they have started out on a campaign of reform which surpasses that even of their most famous recent leader.

"They have been more radical on deficit reduction than say Margaret Thatcher was, but on top of doing that very difficult fiscal adjustment, they are also reformed schools, health, welfare, and pensions - areas where Margaret Thatcher didn't care to tackle."


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