Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: “The G8 summit is also about combining a strong economy with a fair society”

Nick’s first missive of the year to Lib Dem supporters was despatched this weekend, its message combining two stories with the same core message: the role the party and the UK must play in creating a strong economy and a fairer society.

He defends the party’s decision to send a memo to key Lib Dems with key messages for voters, arguing the party has “to be clear, simple and consistent in what we say to voters”. And he argues the G8 summit’s focus on global tax fairness and creating a level-playing field for poorer countries rich in natural resources show the party’s national imperatives playing out at the international level…

libdem letter from nick clegg

I hope you had a good Christmas and New Year. Like many of you I spent my time at two family get-togethers – although I hope you didn’t have to travel quite the distance I did between England and Spain!
Of course politics and government never really stop and over Christmas you start to get ready for the next year. As part of that I wrote a piece for the Times setting out our position on the economy and asking some questions of the Labour Party. You can read it HERE (paywall) or Lib Dem Voice has a summary HERE.

We also got a bit of attention after the party’s central message for spokespeople was featured on the BBC [link here – ST]. There’s nothing unusual about political parties wanting to ensure they get their message across, and our key argument – that the Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life – is one that I hope some of you are already starting to recognise. I know there are people who are uneasy about this kind of message discipline, but we all know from successful campaigns in council wards and by-elections that you must be clear, simple and consistent in what you say to voters, and we have to do that at a national level.

The idea of combining a strong economy with a fair and transparent society is something that will also be seen in an international context this year when we host the G8 in Northern Ireland. Events like the G8 are always a mixture of dealing with the urgent issues of the day as well as looking at some longer-term themes – like food security – that the host country can help to set. It is in those central themes of the summit that I believe there is a lot that Liberal Democrats will be happy to see.

What does that mean in practice? Well, it means dealing with multinational companies who play fast and loose with global tax rules to avoid paying their fair share, in their ‘home’ countries as well as wherever they expand. And it also means an ambitious approach to so-called ‘extractives transparency’, so that countries rich in natural resources get their fair share from the oil, gas and mining firms that make huge profits from them. For too long being rich in natural resources has been at best a mixed blessing for developing countries, and getting companies to be more transparent will help to change that.

We have a chance this year to show that events like the G8 can be about more than just the important work of increasing trade, they can also be about making the global economy a better and fairer place. It may not quite be the Olympics, but I hope it will still be an event that will make us feel proud.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg

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* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from May 2007 to Jan 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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  • Maggie Smith 6th Jan '13 - 2:22pm

    If you keep saying “Fairer Society” will that make it so?

    I’m sorry, at this moment in time with all the things that are going on this society is rapidly moving further away from fair.
    Dear Mr Clegg. the trap you have fallen into was the trap we hoped you would avoid before the election in 2010, you said you would change politics, we hoped you would. But we are still in the time of “Saying a thing is as good as doing a thing” and saying “Fair society” doesn’t bring it any closer without some tangible action to back it up, in the same way that the government spokespeople keep saying they will crack down on tax avoidance, it really never gets going does it?

    Unfortunately for us mortals saying “I have paid my electricity bill” or that “I will examine the prospect of complete change to my owing water rates” does not work quite so well. But then I live in something approaching the real world where bills and demands are immediate and with consequence, come and visit my world, I think it would benefit you as an individual and I’m 100% sure it would benefit you as a politician.

  • Commenting reminder: Please remember to respect our moderation policy which basically asks people to be polite, to be on topic and to be honest (ie don’t pretend to be more than one person or to be someone you are not).

    As you can see from other comments published on the site, wide-ranging and robust debate is fine (including comments critical of the party or the site). However, we do ask for little bit of civility – and the chances are you’ll find that makes your points a little more effective at persuading others anyway!

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  • Simon Hebditch 7th Jan '13 - 9:45am

    How anodyne! All parties want a “strong economy and a fair society”. The issue is what constitutes those two statements – values, programmes, detailed policies etc.

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