NR Digital

Prime Minister Cameron at 100 Days

by John O’Sullivan
In the Tory–Lib Dem coalition, the junior partner is running the firm

Just days before reaching its landmark “100 Days,” David Cameron’s Conservative’Liberal Democratic coalition government suffered a minor but significant shipwreck. David “Two Brains” Willetts, the minister for universities and science, was on television defending a junior colleague whose letter detailing possible spending cuts had been leaked to the media. One potential cut had aroused particular interest: withdrawing universal free milk for children under five. A similar proposal 40 years ago created mayhem and gave its ministerial proposer, Margaret Thatcher, then secretary for education and science, her first hostile sobriquet: “Milk Snatcher.” Would a similar slur now be invented for a prime minister who has so assiduously distanced himself from her?

Undeterred, Willetts set about dutifully explaining the presence of “free” milk on the list of potential cuts needed to shrink a fiscal deficit equal to about 12 percent of GDP — when Cameron changed the policy. In mid-interview the BBC interviewer told him Downing Street had just announced that universal free milk was no longer on the list of potential spending cuts.

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