When I tried to live blog Nick Clegg’s q and a in Glasgow it all went horribly wrong. I’d got about 20 minutes in and then lost the whole thing. I will be a bit more diligent about saving and updating this post.
In the style of the Daily Mail writing about female politicians, Nick Clegg, a 48 year old father of three has come on stage wearing a smart blue suit with a lighter shirt. His hair is not as sleek as it could be. He could have done with a few minutes with his hairbrush this morning.
The first question is about our relative spending on defence and aid. Nick said we should look more holistically – aid is an important part of our own national interest. He was then asked if the EU idea and said definitely No. A barmy idea, a barmy army, he said. He did say, though, that Britain and France were the only countries with any large military capability so if the EU wanted to be more self sufficient on this, there should be more long term thinking on building it up so we didn’t have to rely on “uncle Sam’ to bail us out.
Right and left abhor us being in government more than they abhor each other
Why are our poll ratings not better when we’ve done so much in government is the next question.
Nick says that it’s the first coalition at a time of real economic crisis. The powerful financial and media vested interests of right and left “abhor the Liberal Democrats in government more than they abhor each other.” They want to reclaim their binary system and us being in government puts a spoke in that.
He says that polls look much better where we can tell our side of the story and where we do that, we are going to win.
Thank you for my marriage
The wonderful Richard Flowers thanked Nick for his marriage to Alex Wilcock which took place last October. He said he’d missed conference because of it. Nick joked that he must never miss conference again.
Richard’s actual question was what achievement had surprised Nick most. Nick said that this was a hidden debate when he started going on about it years ago and now it’s a mainstream issue of politics. He talked about the £1.25 billion investment in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services over the next Parliament and said that it was so necessary and would transform children’s lives.
What are you proudest of stopping the Tories doing?
Nick said that if we hadn’t been there to stop them, the Tories would have cut much further for purely ideological reasons and would have balanced the books entirely on the backs of the working age poor. We have held them back and that’s what he’s proudest of.
Immigration and asylum
Hannah Bettsworth asks about detention and the azure cards.
Nick says that these cards were supposed to be enabling people to feed themselves while waiting for their application to be processed. If there were problems with them and they weren’t working, they needed to be changed. He didn’t mention that Roger Roberts had ensured that they were in the House of Lords the other week.
He praised Sarah Teather’s “excellent’ report which recommended a 28 day maximum detention period and supported that aim.
On local government
— Mel Gladwin (@MelGladwin) March 14, 2015
NHS – Labour’s shocking hypocrisy
Labour’s attacks about privatisation are ridiculous, he said – they spent shedloads of money on independent treatment centre that undercut the NHS.
He talked about the future of the NHS and said we were the only part with a plan to give the NHS the £8 billion it needs by the end of next country.
How would you persuade people of the benefits of TTIP? asks our Nick Thornsby.
Nick referred to the protesters at Conference. He says he has had absolute confirmation from the person negotiating the agreement, a Swedish Liberal, that there will be none of the detrimental effects on the NHS that have been predicted. The protesters are wrong – there is absolutely no risk of privatising the NHS from TTIP.
He said there was much in terms of economic benefit and if we don’t enter into that agreement, on a fair basis, we might regret it in the future. It would be a bit of an own goal f we didn’t sign up to it.
Nick T suggested that Nick C’s answer should be video-clipped and put on You Tube so that candidates can send it to voters who are sending in those 38 Degrees emails.
If SNP & UKIP are party of protest and Greens are party of young people, what are the Liberal Democrats for?
He said that the nationalists weren’t about protest, they were about grievance and dividing people. The Greens aren’t doing loads for young people – we’ve delivered pupil premium, cut youth unemployment, and done 2 million apprenticeships.
He says that we need to say that without us there wouldn’t be a whole, happy, United Kingdom.
Photo by Liberal Democrats
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings