Nick Clegg signals new distance from “fantasy world” Tories

Nick Clegg in DublinThe Observer reports that Nick Clegg will today seek to put distance between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. In a key passage of his speech today, Nick Clegg will say:

The Tory right dreams of a fantasy world where we can walk away from the EU but magically keep our economy strong; where we can pretend that the world hasn’t moved on and stand opposed to gay marriage; where we can refuse to accept the verdict of the British people and pretend the Conservatives won a majority of their own.

You can read the full Observer article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist in Newbury and West Berkshire. He is Photo Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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13 Comments

  • The trouble is, the voters aren’t listening. They are in a massive grump about falling living standards – not something anyone could have remedied – and the fact that there are, yes, actually having to be cuts to things that people actually care about.

    They won’t listen to the reality, that Labour would have cut too, despite its wilful distortions about “too far, too fast” (Labour would have had to cut in almost exactly the same way as near as makes no difference). They are just intent on blaming anyone in government.

    How we can cut through unjustified antipathy and scapegoating of the Liberal Democrats for every problem in the country is a major problem we haven’t yet solved. Until the economy really does start to recover, which isn’t a dead cert, we really do have a major party crisis on our hands.

  • Alex Matthews 17th Dec '12 - 11:39am

    RC, I agree.

  • Andrew Suffield 17th Dec '12 - 12:20pm

    not the ‘centre’ of political opinion

    I do not think you know what that word means.

  • Tom Richards 17th Dec '12 - 12:53pm

    1) It’s not a matter of ‘shamelessly chasing’ the moderate vote. Perhaps in contrast to some wings of the other two parties, Lib Dem policies are usually pretty moderate – always have been. Most of what Clegg’s saying is just a restatement of things the party has been saying for decades – which I’d hardly call shameless political posturing.

    2) (Unfortunately for Lib Dems) you can quite easily be at the centre of political opinion without many voters actually being there – for example, if 50% were centre right and 50% were centre left, then the centre would be somewhere in between them, despite the fact that there are no ‘centre centre’ votes!

  • The underlying problem is that in tough times, people like to look for simplistic and easy to understand solutions. They polarise either on the left or the right.

    Labour – Keep on spending and don’t cut anything, if we spend even more borrowed money then it will all come right, there will be no cuts and the economy will magically turn itself around whatever global crises are happening;

    UKIP – Withdraw from Europe. If we weren’t in the European Union, our economy would be booming. It’s all the fault of immigrants and foreigners.

    Tories – Slash regulations, benefits and public services and privatise everything. That’ll sort it out.

    Because (1) We are in government and (2) we don’t offer simplistic “get out of jail free” solutions the Lib Dems are the ones left carrying the can.

  • I am really saddened at how many people have defected from the Liberal Democrats to Labour. I would have hoped that somehow more people would have seen through Labour’s lies and distortions to the underlying reality:

    1) That Labour left the economy and public finances in tatters, dependent on borrowing for growth and with its productive base massively eroded;
    2) That we only had 8% of MPs, not a majority, and so could not have even hoped to implement large parts of our manifesto;
    3) That we went into government at a dreadful time with a party with 47% of MPs with whom we have virtually nothing in common.
    4) That the job of rebuilding the UK economy is going to be a terribly long and difficult one.

    Appallingly, the public appear minded to vote back in a party that left us in this dreadful mess and it seems there is little we can do about it.

    We need to carry on fighting our corner, putting out our message, and if we are lucky what we are doing on the economy will help it come round.

    More than that, we need to fight to keep as much of our party membership in tact as possible and focus on getting our MPs re-elected in substantial numbers in 2015. That has to be the overriding number one objective and, since we will often be fighting Tories in second place, we have a good chance of doing that.

    Once Labour get back in, as it seems they will, their popularity will plummet out of sight as the reality of their awfulness and empty promises sinks in. Then we can set about reviving and rebuilding the party.

    It is going to be a long haul.

  • John Broggio 17th Dec '12 - 6:24pm

    RC – I’d largely agree with your post except for:
    1) Show me a company or country that grows without borrowing. A deficit is not just sufficient but necessary for growth. I could also raise the same arguments that Danny Alexander does for the current poor economic performance but I don’t want to excuse New Labour for their economic incompetence any more than the current lot. The simple fact is that we didn’t tax enough & use the money to organise the economy in a way that the right-wing of Germany seems to accept is a “good thing”.
    4) Rebuilding an economy has never, ever been done by purposefully destroying workers conditions and pay or through austerity. All the economists who predicted that austerity would be self-defeating have been proved right and we’re about to get another dose. It’s criminally idiotic. Our current economic direction is to compete with the likes of Asian countries who think nothing of a factory averaging several suicides annually from the appalling conditions and pitiful pay. We should be trying to re-skill and start competing with Germany and other successful high-tech economies. Instead, we are “choosing” (in quotes because no-ones explicitly said what the huge level of unemployment means for salaries & conditions let alone allow us to vote on it) to pursue the lowest common denominator. Bravo!

  • @ John Broggio

    “Show me a company or country that grows without borrowing.”

    One that has run its finances well and reinvests the profits? Loads of them do. The point is, Labour wants to increase borrowing to pay for current expenditure. It just pretends that, like Magic Beans, this will somehow sprout into an economic beanstalk.

    “Rebuilding an economy has never, ever been done by purposefully destroying workers conditions and pay or through austerity. ”

    Why would ANYONE want to court unpopularity by deliberately destroying people’s standard of living if they could avoid it? Your assertion simply does not make any sense.

    Of course people would love to be in the position where we had the money to give back to people. But Labour left an 11.3% of GDP deficit. Remember that? If you are going to preserve spending on the NHS and education, that means even bigger cuts elsewhere.

    What has destroyed people’s standard of living is inflation from high food prices, fuel and other commodities, which has pushed up the cost of living and reduced their buying power. Also they are now having to repay all the debt built up under Labour.

    When was any of that anything whatever to do with the Coalition government’s policy of rebalancing the budget?

  • The trouble with all this is that as long as it has the confidence of the markets, Government has a comparative advantage in borrowing. Currently the Government can borrow at virtually no cost. So it makes sense for Government to borrow more and invest the money to kickstart the economy, remove the need for expensive PFI arrangements – and make a profit for taxpayers.

  • Peter Watson 17th Dec '12 - 11:07pm

    @RC “If you are going to preserve spending on the NHS and education, that means even bigger cuts elsewhere.”
    Isn’t that exactly why we said before the election that we would not ringfence that expenditure?
    And yes, Labour left us a mess.
    But in government the coalition has delivered the double-dip recession it claimed its policies would avoid, and failed to meet one downgraded growth target after another. In Opposition we and the tories regularly promised to match Labour’s spending plans. Osborne called quantitative easing “the last resort of desperate governments when all other policies have failed” but maintains it in government. Before the election we criticised the tories for the VAT bombshell for which they claimed to have no plans, then Lib Dems supported the tories raising of VAT. Lib Dems voted against a Labour motion to delay the fuel duty rise then support George Osborne when he decides to delay the fuel duty rise.
    Labour lost the argument about its economic competence in 2010 but everything that the conservatives and Lib Dems have done since has damaged their own credibility. Blaming Labour and the same international factors we criticised them for using as an excuse is a busted flush and at best reminds voters that all of the parties are equally hopeless, but the coalition is the one left holding – dropping – the baby now.

  • Richard Boyd 18th Dec '12 - 9:21pm

    As a simple sole I try to keep the argument, with the Tesco Checkout member of the public, simple – not because I think they are simple, but rather that they have a lot on their minds and do not want long explanations.

    We are, effectively, the rudder of the ship of state, counter acting the wilder tendencies of the bloke on the bridge
    who wants to steer us to one side. We did that in local government in the mid-90’s (conveniently forgotten by our
    then mainly Labour partners in shared administrations) to stop the swing from right to left, just as we now moderate
    the swing to the right.

    I believe a colleague from a London University, who tells me that a form er student, now a researcher for the Tories
    recently answered the question “what do those peskie Lib Dems do?” replied “They obstruct the freeing up ogf employers to get rid of workers when needed – like employers in California”. So, we protect employment rights
    and those without the Merchant Bankers attituded to life, from bullying” – and what do we allow ourselves to be
    portrayed as? Softies who protect workers and neandertal unions. Not reasonable protectors of the family wage earner from sacking withour right or reason.

    There is no shame in being a rudder, small and influential, holding things on a steady course – but not the actual
    driving propeller.

    Yesterday’s man

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