by Ray Fleming

Last week's Spectator magazine had a cover cartoon of David Cameron and Nick Clegg throttling one another, with a caption claiming that the coalition is at war and preparing for a break-up. Whether it's quite that bad I don't know but there must be an underlying cause of the incompetence of much of the coalitiion's policy implementation and the extremity of some of its language. For instance, in a recent speech the prime minister denounced as “Trotskyists” the critics of the functioning of the government's “work experience” scheme for 16-24 year olds. Trotskyists! I haven't heard that word used for a long time and when I checked my dictionary for its contemporary meaning I was rewarded with: “the theory that socialism should be established through the world by continuing revolution”. Since several of the critics in Mr Cameon's sights are businessmen running successful companies I rather doubt that they would acknowledge any Trotskyist leanings. But some have withdrawn from the work experience project because lack of clarity about its terms and conditions have led to accusations that it was providing “free labour” for a limited time without any prospect of longer-term employment when it is completed. In principle the scheme is a good one and yesterday Chris Grayling, the employment minister, announced some necessary changes and clarifications. But why weren't they got right first time?