Feckless politics

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Is the idea of collective Cabinet responsibility now redundant in the wake of the Liberal Democrats’ apparent U-turn on the so-called “bedroom tax” (your report, 18 July)?

Surely the correct way to deal with any difficulty was to raise the matter at ministerial level in what has become known as “the Quad” – the routine discussions on strategy involving the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Chancellor and Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Instead Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander have resorted to phone-ins and press releases to voice their frustration at how the spare room subsidy is working in practice.

It is at worst bad manners and at best feckless in terms of political timing.

The “bedroom tax” is a bad measure. Those responsible for its introduction did not take into account the realities of living with disability, or on benefits, and certainly not availability of certain types of housing.

It has arguably cost more to implement than it was ever intended to save. But it was part of the overall welfare reforms which were included in the coalition government’s programme.

Any change in view by one of the coalition partners at least deserves the courtesy of discussion with the other partner. Instead the Liberal Democrats have not just been made to look cowardly and opportunistic – they leave themselves open to an embarrassing situation if the Labour opposition decides to force the issue in the House of Commons and ask for its support.

That might leave the coalition’s policies looking even more discredited and the Clegg-Alexander leadership in even more disarray.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court