Nick Clegg’s New Year message to Liberal Democrat members


Video also available on YouTube here.

Nick Clegg has released his New Year message to Lib Dem members, a simple and positive riff on the party’s four key manifesto commitments from the 2010 General Election.

In fact, for a New Year’s message, it’s very much about continuity; there are no fireworks or surprises, as I found when I played a little game earlier with a couple of colleagues – “Guess what’s in Nick’s New Year message?”

And we guessed correctly, almost to the word: a reiteration of the party’s “big four” commitments, with examples of where we’ve delivered (more examples here); a quick mention of coalition politics, without dwelling overly on “incredibly difficult decisions”; a look towards three themes for 2011: political reform, social mobility and economic recovery – each with a helpful, yet sparing definition in plain language. (AV, after all, is best presented as a fairer system which makes MPs work harder for your vote, rather than a mathematical conundrum.)

Nick rounds off with a rallying cry, to prove the naysayers wrong, and “continue to build the Liberal fairer, greener Britain that we all believe in.”

Here’s Nick’s message in full:

Four key Lib Dem manifesto commitments

Well what a year! A white-knuckle election; a new coalition government; Liberals in power for the first time in 70 years.

Just eight months ago we were campaigning on our four big manifesto priorities – fairer taxes; extra money for disadvantaged children in schools; a green, rebalanced economy; a new, open politics.

And now we are delivering on every single one, and more.

From taking over 800,000 people on low pay out of paying income tax altogether, to restoring the earnings link for pensioners, from delivering the pupil premium in full by the end of this parliament to scrapping ID cards, from stopping the new runway at Heathrow to clamping down on industrial scale tax avoidance, and ending child detention, Liberal Democrats are making the difference for the people of Britain.

I don’t want to pretend it has all been easy. These are testing times for the country and for our Party too. Action to tackle the deficit, and the need to reform higher education, have forced us to take some incredibly difficult decisions.

But that is Government. And when we promised people that we were ready to govern, that is the commitment we made.

I genuinely believe that the choices we are making will stand the test of time.

By dealing with the deficit, we’ll make sure future generations are not saddled with the burden of our debt.

By changing the way universities are funded we are keeping them world class while at the same time giving disadvantaged young people more opportunity to go into university, not less.

And by showing people that coalition can work, we can prove that plural, liberal politics is best for Britain.

In the New Year I’ll be concentrating on three big changes: radical reform of our political system and restoring our hard-won civil liberties; boosting social mobility so that no child is held back by the circumstances of his or her birth; and making sure the economic recovery is green and balanced, with opportunities spread across the whole country.

And I, like you, will be out campaigning for a fairer voting system to make MPs work harder for your vote.

All of us are going to hear some people predict the worst for our Party. The same people who have been underestimating the Liberal Democrats for as long as we have existed.

But we prove them wrong at every single turn. The next twelve months will be no different, because we will continue to build the Liberal, fairer, greener Britain that we all believe in.

Happy New Year!

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42 Comments

  • Man on the Bus 29th Dec '10 - 12:21am

    “we’ll make sure future generations are not saddled with the burden of our debt.”

    Ho ho very satirical.

  • “we’ll make sure future generations are not saddled with the burden of our debt”

    Unless of course they are moderately well paid graduates when we fully expect to saddle them with additional debt.

    “from delivering the pupil premium in full by the end of this parliament”

    By taking money from other children, perhaps they can spend the premium on the books they will no longer get and share them with those who won’t get the premium.

    “And by showing people that coalition can work, we can prove that plural, liberal politics is best for Britain.”

    And this is the biggest sin. Because his obsessional requirement to hide disagreement and gag his ministers means there is nothing plural about this coalition. Even where opt outs were specifically built into the agreement ministers were coerced to vote for Tuition fees rises rather than abstain. How many times do we have to hear two parties one policy when in most cases there should be acceptance of at least one party compromising as the cost of coalition, as the reality of plurality. Without this people feelt hey may as well have voted Tory.

    All he needs to do to prove the naysayers wrong is to start delivering a true coalition instead of a love in, and to remember that when principles have to be broken for the sake of coalition make sure that the country knows it. Otherwise he’ll get a right royal spanking in May.

    To clarify for the excitable Tories that visit here, that’s in May not from May.

  • Andrew Suffield 29th Dec '10 - 7:35am

    Unless of course they are moderately well paid graduates when we fully expect to saddle them with additional debt.

    No, future generations are under no obligation to enter into those debts. If they can find a way to afford it, they are welcome (and encouraged) to scrap tuition fees – it’s still a Lib Dem policy to scrap them when possible.

    Labour’s debts, on the other hand, cannot be discarded. Future generations must pay for the excesses of the last 13 years.

  • I agree with Steve Way.

  • Andrew Suffield

    Coalition supporters are still attempting to justify the direction of the Nick Clegg’s Tory-led government with anti-Labour deficit mentioning pieces.

    Can you explain why the deficit is rising so much so quickly under Gideon Osborne’s brief stewardship?

    And how:
    – Rising unemployment
    – Projected trebling of interest rates within 6 months
    – Stagnant private job creation
    – Falling consumer spending + confidence
    – Dramatically re-adjusted downwards growth forecasts

    will all help Nick Clegg rectify the situation?

  • Oh dear Andrew Suffield

    Labour’s ‘debts’ are due to it preventing a depression.
    Lib Dem policies (tripling tuition fees) will cacade debt down the generations and all for the egos of a few MPs who will be out next time.

  • The country worked under Labour.

    Sadly the treacherous Lib dems will make sure many don’t work at all next year.
    Happy New Year

  • Andrew Suffield

    Not to mention that monster coming over the hill.

    Inflation

  • @Andrew Suffield
    Can I just clarify my comments were not meant to support Labour but to highlight the current leaderships hypocrisy. I supported the Lib Dem’s at the election because I wanted them to follow their stated principles and keep the pledges they made the electorate. That’s what democracy should be about. If not cancel elections as another efficieny saving.

    Labour did achieve a lot in their time in office but also made many mistakes. The constant litany decrying of Labour’s deficit does the Lib dems no good anymore. If you look at the both parties of Government’s responses to Labour’s budgets, and PBR’s it can easily be seen that whoever was in power there would still be a large defecit. Labour’s main sin was wastefulness, but looking at the improvements in the NHS and education that are about to be reversed it may be seen by the country to be a lesser evil than the coalitions policies.

    The economic betrayal is in the speed of paying off the debt. Can you not see the hypocrisy when you campaign on a ticket of reducing the debt over 2 parliaments and then double the speed of repayment (with the accompanying increase in cuts) ? The majority of the country supported slower reduction at the general election, they have been ignored.

    As for your method of avoiding the student debt, this will be a poorer country if we have no graduates. They benefit the country and pay more taxes as they earn more. Not to mention the fact that it was a blatant betrayal of future students and their parents that is now justified by telling them they don’t have to go to University if they don’t wnat the debt….

    What next for justification, reverse the ban on fox hunting with the reasoning that the foxes wouldn’t take part if they didn’t want to?

  • “All of us are going to hear some people predict the worst for our Party.”

    He must be deaf because many were predicting it long ago, before Nick’s catastrophic personal ratings and the Party’s.

    They were right.

    Unlike the Thatcherite orange bookers round Nick who think everything will turn out nice in a few years because… ? well they don’t actually have a reason or strategy other than clinging on to Cameron and their nice ministrerial jobs and offices, but they think if they wish hard enough everything will be fine.

  • David Lawson 29th Dec '10 - 11:09am

    Steve, you are right I think that the problem is agreeing to remove the structural deficit in 4 years rather that twice that time and then appearing surprised when cuts are deeper than you said they would be.

    This is also the problem with arguments that the deficit caused the tuition fees “betrayal”.

    The deficit has not caused the Tories to cut the NHS or to make changes adverse to their older voter support base. The Tories have indeed made clear that they are honouring commitments to both (which surely makes Nick Clegg wince).

    That is why we have a new political equation: the unexpected level of the deficit > the price of Lib Dem credibility but < the price of Tory credibility.

    Since Robert has asked me, impliedly, to be more positive there are 3 or 4 changes to the tuition fees policy that would at least soften it at the edges and we must hope that Simon Hughes (what is it about our senior members and their willingness to tie their name to this policy) can take them forward.

  • “In fact, for a New Year’s message, it’s very much about continuity…”

    Oh no, I hope not. Not more U-turns.

    I notice Nick Clegg is making speeches to pro-Israeli groups suggesting he got it wrong on Israel. He’ll be supporting apartheid next and recommending a change in the Universal Jurisdiction law to help people avoid charges of war crimes.

    http://www.ldfp.eu/2010/11/15/mr-clegg-the-lib-dems-and-the-small-case-of-international-law/

  • Man on the Bus 29th Dec '10 - 11:35am

    “No, future generations are under no obligation to enter into those debts.”

    The government’s still going to owe all that money it’s borrowing to pay the increased student fees, you muppet!

  • I wonder how long Party members will accept this unwarranted optimism. Until UKIP are showing greater support in the polls?

    Perhaps it would help if the old tuition fees system were restored, but the numbers attending university restricted to just the brightest to avoid cruelly raising expectations of our young.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12086055

  • @Dane Clouston

    Hi Dane – Seasons Greetings to you.

    I agree. Something has got to be done now that Obama has given up. With no prospect of a solution now, what is the ordinary Palestinian to do? If it were me in the same position, I would take up arms.

    How did you get on with the ‘Anatomy of Economic Inequality’ study / book? It’s a useful source for data, but at nearly 500 pages, it’s a bit of a pain to wade through.

  • Let me clarify that – before I get removed / reported.

    With no prospect of a solution now, what is the ordinary Palestinian to do? If it were me in the same position, I would take up arms – just like the French Resistance did in WWII when they were occupied – just like the Americans did to oust the Brits – just like most peoples have done when they are occupied by foreign forces.

  • @ Richard SM

    The US was not “occupied by foreign forces”. Most people in the colonies at that time were British or of British descent. It was a (justified) rebellion within the colonial states about taxation and principles of government – “no taxation without representation”. However, plenty of British people did not agree with the rebellion and were forced to flee to Canada.

    You clearly don’t know much about history.

  • Anyway, I agree we need to start imposing our own common European will in our own backyard. Most European nations are agreed that an effective two state solution needs to be pursued vigorously and against the evident wishes of Israel. Obama’s ability to find a solution to the Middle East’s problems is clearly now hamstrung. If it is worth having any kind of common European approach to foreign policy, the Middle East will prove the acid test.

  • @ Robert C

    I didn’t say they were – you clearly can’t read.

  • @Dane Clouston

    I quoted some figures 2-3 months ago (on income disparity, I think) and you asked me for a link – and later thanked me for a useful source of data.

    Don’t worry, I have a good memory ;-)

  • Mr Clegg is really a Tory in Lib Dem clothing. I look forward to the Oldham East and Saddleworth by election, where the Lib Dems are beaten into third place! If the Greens make some real progress, then maybe this may tell Mr Clegg that many of his voters do not agree with him.

  • Just in case my above post is considered abusive, when I state that “Mr Clegg is really a Tory in Lib Dem clothing,” I do not mean it literally, I mean that he acts like a Conservative, not willing to show any policy disagreements between them, and supporting Conservative policies like raising tuition fees. A little bit of public disagreement will really be something to make many think there is still a point in supporting the Lib Dems

  • Poppie's mum 29th Dec '10 - 5:10pm

    Happy New Year Clegg.

    My New Year’s resolution is to never again hang a Vote Lib Dem poster in my window.
    It’ll take years of therapy to deal with my guilt feelings at encouraging people to vote Lib Dem.

  • Andrew Suffield 29th Dec '10 - 7:55pm

    Labour’s ‘debts’ are due to it preventing a depression.

    Well that failed laughably, we had a recession and a record deficit.

    Can you not see the hypocrisy when you campaign on a ticket of reducing the debt over 2 parliaments and then double the speed of repayment (with the accompanying increase in cuts) ?

    Certainly, however this is pure fantasy. Here is what the Lib Dem manifesto had to say on the subject of scheduling:

    Throughout the summer and early autumn a Comprehensive Spending
    Review of all departments would be conducted with the objective of
    identifying the remaining cuts needed to, at a minimum, halve the deficit by
    2013­-14. A Strategic Security and Defence Review would form part of this
    spending review, working within the same financial and time constraints.

    So, the Lib Dems campaigned on a ticket of reducing the deficit by half by 2013-2014. The government’s plan is to reduce the deficit by two thirds by 2013-2014. I don’t think you can justifiably call this anything other than another manifesto promise delivered.

  • John Roffey 29th Dec '10 - 8:05pm

    It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.
    Thomas Paine

  • @Andrew Suffield
    The Tories claim the deficit will be gone in this parliament. That is a big difference to cutting in half by 2014.

    Halving the deficit would have been painful, extremely painful, but people voted for that. Greater reduction will be far more damaging.

    A bit like Clegg calling the scrapping of the schools building projects “a bit silly” when proposed by the Tories. A bit like the Tory VAT bombshell, a bit like Tuition fees etc etc etc

    Still it’s good to see some Lib Dems have learnt how to spin from the Blair years, he would have found no problem equating the 1/2 to 2/3’s just like when he lied over tuition fees he found no problem spinning that.

  • Scott Walker 29th Dec '10 - 11:19pm

    Come on chaps! It’s a New Year’s message: good will to all etc. I’ll wait a few days, therefore before saying that “I genuinely believe that the choices we are making will stand the test of time” sounds remarkably similar to Blair on Iraq!

  • @ Scott Walker

    …. and the claim will prove to be just as accurate as Blair’s I suspect.

    One would not have expected anything else of course; political expediency will dictate that Clegg is now stuck with the Coalition, even if he came to think it was a mistake (which I accept isn’t likely; I think he is quite sincere in his belief that he and his colleagues did the right thing). Now that the LD’s are effectively “locked-in” to the Coalition, I can see how the narrative that they have little choice but to stick it out and hope things improve works.

    I think they are totally mistaken, but only time will tell. It is fervently to be hoped that, if nothing else, the AV referendum can be won, and that the policies of the Coalition don’t prove to be as damaging as many of us fear.

  • “My New Year’s resolution is to never again hang a Vote Lib Dem poster in my window.
    It’ll take years of therapy to deal with my guilt feelings at encouraging people to vote Lib Dem.”

    I went so far as to have two enormous orange LIB DEM triangles in my garden because I was so passionate that we mustnt have a conservative government!!!!!

  • Andrew Suffield 30th Dec '10 - 7:54pm

    The Tories claim the deficit will be gone in this parliament. That is a big difference to cutting in half by 2014.

    Actually it isn’t. Particularly since you’re fiddling the dates there.

    The manifest commitment was to reduce the deficit to half by the (start of the financial) year 2013-2014. This parliament will last until the (start of the financial) year 2015-2016. So, you’re comparing “cut in half in three years” to “cut to zero in five years”.

    Do you see why these are approximately the same rate? If it is still unclear, look at this page: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/spend_sr2010_keyannouncements.htm

    The fourth image down shows a graph. You’ll see that this government’s plans for the 2013-2014 mark are pretty close to where the Lib Dem manifesto aimed them.

    Certainly the coalition plans are slightly faster – the Lib Dem proposal was to correct the deficit at about 5/6ths of this rate. But you can hardly call this “double the speed”, which is obviously isn’t, and it’s certainly a reasonable compromise between the Lib Dem and Tory proposals. This really is what people voted for.

  • “It’d be crazy not to talk about Labour’s deficit constantly. It’s going to dominate this parliament.”

    Yes, sure. And George W Bush’s deficit (or should that be Obama’s?), and the Greek deficit, and the Irish deficit, and the Portuguese deficit, and the Spanish deficit, etc etc. Oh, and the bankers’ deficit.

    The reason for talking incessantly about Labour as the cause of the deficit is much the same as the reason for bracketing Saddam Hussein with Al-Qaida, or for denying climate change. It’s the blame game. Let’s hope the voters see through it. It’s a dirty way to campaign and we should have none of it.

  • David Allen 1st Jan '11 - 7:29pm

    Happy New Year, George,

    “At the time, they said, if Obama didn’t put the blame where it was due, on Bush, the republicans would put the blame on Obama. Eventually, Obama did start blaming Bush, but too late … and the Democrat rout in the mid-terms was the result.”

    In other words, if you don’t take care to stuff the other side and win the propaganda war, then the other side will stuff you. Some truth in that, I suppose.

    “If Labour had reacted to this by accepting it had made mistakes, fine. We could avoid the blame game, and just discuss the very difficult decisions the country has to take.

    But, instead, Labour is doing its utmost to blame the austerity that is partly a result of their serious mistakes on the coalition and on the Liberal Democrats.”

    Oh, please! You can’t say that Labour must play it squeaky clean, while at the same time saying that the Lib Dems must play it dirty!

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