Tag Archives: nick clegg

Open Doors: The Sequel – All four versions of the second Lib Dem PPB of 2015

We brought you the first in the Open Doors series of broadcasts at the end of January. Here is the second in which Willie Rennie’s scarf tying doesn’t improve, Kirsty Williams speaks Welsh and there are lots of good reasons to vote Liberal Democrat with much more policy detail.

Feedback about lack of appropriate accents has clearly been listened to and they have slotted in different comments from each person to each version so you really do have to watch them all.

England

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LibLink: Nick Clegg and Richard Branson: We have been losing the war on drugs for four decades. End it now.

Nick Clegg Glasgow 2014 by Liberal DemocratsIn a major keynote speech today, Nick Clegg will call for responsibility for drugs to be moved from the criminal justice system to the health care system. In that, he has the support of Richard Branson and the two men have written for the Guardian’s Comment is Free section. First of all, they show how the current system is both wasting money and failing:

 Since the “war” was declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, we have spent over £1tn trying to eradicate drugs from our societies. Yet the criminal market continues to grow, driving unimaginable levels of profit for organised crime. We devote vast police, criminal justice and military resources to the problem, including the incarceration of people on a historically unprecedented scale.

In many parts of the world, drug violence has become endemic. As Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, visits the UK, we should remember the estimated 100,000 people killed in Mexico alone since 2006. Yet tragically, the sum total of enforcement efforts against drug supply over the past 40 years has been zero. Efforts at reducing demand have been similarly fruitless. Here in the UK, a third of adults have taken illegal drugs and the gangs are doing a roaring trade. The problem simply isn’t going away.

While other countries around the world are rethinking their approach, Britain remains stubbornly, truculently wedded to the old way, with tragic human consequences:

And yet we desperately need better solutions in this country. One in six children aged 11 to 15 is still taking drugs; 2,000 people die each year in drug-related incidents; the use of unregulated “legal highs” is rampant.

At the same time, the police are stopping and searching half a million people a year for possession of drugs, prosecutions of users are close to record levels, and prison cells are still used for people whose only crime is the possession of a substance to which they are addicted. This costs a lot of money, which could be better spent on treatment and on redoubling our efforts to disrupt supply. And it wrecks the lives of 70,000 people a year who receive a criminal record for possession and then find themselves unable to get a job.

As an investment, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns. If it were a business, it would have been shut down a long time ago. This is not what success looks like.

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Live this evening – Nick Clegg’s “State of Mind”

It’s one of those headings where the speech marks are essential …

Nick says he wants to “lift the lid on what it is like for the one in four people in the UK who suffer with mental illness”. He will be hosting a programme this evening on LBC in which he will interview people with mental health problems and those who support them, followed by a Q&A.

You can watch the programme live at 7pm today.

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Back to the days of toxic factionalism in the Labour Party – will they ever learn?

I’ve always felt that the Labour Party would be much more effective if they could put their energies into fighting the problems the country faces rather than fighting each other. We all remember the schism between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair from Day 1 of their administration which overshadowed everything they did. Do you remember the time when they decided to show everyone what good friends they were in the run up to, I think, the 2005 election, sitting  together uncomfortably on the GMTV sofa.

Today the Sunday Times (£) shows us that toxic factionalism is still alive and well in the Party. Brown and Blair couldn’t even get on when things were going well for them. The two Eds, Miliband and Balls are apparently at daggers drawn and Balls may face demotion after recent blunders:

A shadow cabinet member said if Miliband becomes prime minister he should move the shadow chancellor and accused Balls of behaving with “contempt” towards colleagues and “undermining the leader’s agenda”.

Frontbenchers attacked Balls last night for committing Labour’s two worst gaffes of the election campaign so far.

They said his reputation as a “safe pair of hands” had been shattered when he failed to name a single Labour business backer and told voters they should get a receipt for work done cash in hand, both of which attracted ridicule.

Senior figures also expressed frustration and incredulity that Balls has dug his heels in over funding a cut in English tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 a year — three years after Miliband first backed the policy and with the announcement due at the end of this week.

Insiders say a meeting between Miliband and Balls last Wednesday, which many hoped would settle the policy, had “ended badly”.

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Nick Clegg top British politician in Mumsnet poll

Nick Clegg is the leading British politician on a Mumsnet poll. Sadly, it’s not for voting intention. The Mirror has the story:

Over at Mumsnet, one user started a thread asking “Am I being unreasonable to ask which politician would make the best lover?” There were over 400 replies and we added up the mentions of each name for you. The results are in…

American President Barack Obama beat all local politicians to come out top with 22 votes.

Nick “Clegg-over” Clegg makes a close second, showing he’s kept his sex appeal since 2010 despite the battering his political reputation has taken.

Perennial sex favourite Gordon Brown (he’s Scottish, the accent is kind of sexy) is third.

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Lord Wallace of Saltaire writes….Liberal Democrats’ investment in education has been socially progressive

I took part in a five-party panel at York University the other weekend, organised by the University’s Politics Society, in front of a packed lecture hall with over 200 students.  No other panellist or questioner mentioned the subject of tuition fees, believed by some Liberal Democrat activists (and right-wing journalists) to be an issue that hangs like an albatross round Nick Clegg’s neck. The overwhelming impression I came away with, reinforced by informal conversations with several students after the meeting, was not that we face an outraged student body which can never forgive us for the tuition fees ‘betrayal’, as the NUS would like to portray it; it was of a student body which is switched off from party politics, unsure of whether to vote or not, but with some intelligent questions to ask.  ‘I wasn’t planning to vote until I came to this’, one student told me afterwards, ‘but maybe now I will.’

Since nobody else did, I addressed the tuition fee issue.  I said that we had found it impossible to persuade our Conservative partners in the coalition to pay for this, against the background of a yawning gap between revenue and expenditure in 2010, and had therefore focused on striking a deal that was as progressive in its impact as possible; that the package had ensured that graduates only start to pay back when they are earning good money; that the rise since then in the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds applying to university has shown that we got that right; and that there was no no way any future government would want to take us back to free fees in the face of other competing demands for government funding.  I went on to say that we had worked in government to put money into ‘the other 50%’ – the young people who never go to university; that doubling the number of apprenticeships, paying a Pupil Premium to encourage schools to put more resources into helping those who most need it, and expanding nursery education to give children a better start in life had proved to be more progressive and cost-effective than free fees for the better-off.

photo by: flickingerbrad
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Nick Clegg on the Liberal Democrats’ vision for a world class early years education system

Nick Clegg has made a major speech on early years education and  child care to the Pre-School Learning Alliance. He pointed out that as a result of Liberal Democrat input, an extra £1 billion has been put into child-care in this Parliament and that only the Liberal Democrats would protect that level of spending in the next Parliament. In contrast, the Conservatives would cut it, at a cost of £625 per child. Not only that, but welfare cuts would affect low income families.

Here are the main points of his speech:

Over the last five years, we’ve made it one of our biggest priorities in this Government to ensure that every child – whatever their background or circumstances – gets an equal shot at the successful future they deserve.

Disadvantaged background start to bite early:

 So much so that, if you’re a child born into a poor family in this country, you will already have fallen behind a child with richer parents by the time you’re 2 years old.

That’s before you step anywhere near a classroom and it has absolutely nothing to do with your talent or potential – just the circumstances of your birth. Without focused action to change it, that gap between you and your peers will continue to get bigger as you grow up. So that when you turn up, proudly wearing your new uniform, for your first day of school, you will be well over a year behind your better-off classmates. Morally and economically, we simply cannot afford for so many children to have their future written off like that in this country.

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Nick Clegg and the woodland craft class

Ease yourself gently into Sunday with this video of Nick Clegg helping Oxfordshire schoolchildren with their woodland craft class. He was there on Thursday with Oxford West and Abingdon candidate Layla Moran ahead of the manifesto front page launch.

Ok, so there’s no hard policy, but it’s pleasant and the kids seem to know quite a lot about him.

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Jeremy Browne isn’t going quietly…

Jeremy Browne has used an interview with the Independent to continue his love-in with Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. The headline says he called Nick Clegg “insipid” but he didn’t use that word directly about the leader. However, he did say something that will probably find some sympathy across the whole party. I’ve often said that we need to be passionate about who we are and not define ourselves by who we are not so that we’re just pushing ourselves as moderating influence on the other parties. I don’t like it when a speech is memorable for its mention of which body parts we share out. I do like it when we say what we are about.

Browne makes a similar point:

We are defining liberalism as the precise mid‑point between conservatism and socialism. Whatever liberalism is, it is not defined by where the other parties choose to pitch themselves or by measuring the distance between them and splitting it in half.

All we offer is a desire to water down their strong views. We offer an insipid moderation. Whichever party is the biggest one, we will stop them implementing a large number of their ideas. It is entirely negative. It is a deeply conservative position. We have become the most small-‘c’ conservative party.

Where I part company with Browne is his assertion is that this makes us more conservative than the two parties who have resolutely junked political reform whether it be electoral, party funding or to the House of Lords, throughout this Parliament. On devolution, it’s our party which has driven more powers for Scotland and Wales. You don’t find a conservative party creating opportunities for disadvantaged kids in school or transforming the way we deal with mental health.

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In Full: Nick Clegg’s speech to the British Chambers of Commerce Conference today

Nick Clegg spoke to the British Chambers of Commerce conference in central London today. He spoke about creating opportunities for women, about the Liberal Democrats’ role in bringing about the recovery and about our plans for the future to boost business and the economy. Questioned afterwards, he also added that he wanted to see much more help for childcare in the future. Here is his speech in full:

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It would be fabulous if Julian Assange sued Nick Clegg

You see, if you sue someone, you actually have to turn up in Court to press your case, or else it’ll be struck out. Of course if Wikileaks founder Assange sets foot outside Ecuador’s Embassy, he could find himself extradited to Sweden to face allegations of rape. That would be what many people would call a result.

The Huffington Post has details of the spat between Assange and Clegg which began after the Liberal Democrat leader said on his weekly radio phone-in that he thought the sooner Assange were to “face justice in a country where due process is well established” the better.

Assange’s response was to threaten to sue Nick.

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Dear Tories, repetition doesn’t make something true. Cutting income tax for lowest paid was a Lib Dem idea and you know it.

lib dem manifesto tax cutFor some time now, the Conservative Party have been taking every opportunity to take credit for raising the tax threshold to £10,500 despite this being one great big fat distortion of the truth.

Most recently, Surrey Liberal Democrat councillor was distinctly unamused to find an email from Tory Treasury Minister Priti Patel in her inbox. It said:

Fiona,

See how much our income tax cuts will save you – try our quick calculator today.

The Conservatives believe in cutting taxes.

If you’re working hard to provide for your family, you should keep more of the money you earn.

That’s why we’ve cut income tax every year we’ve been in office – and why we’re committed to keep on cutting income tax after the next election.

Over 24 million people have had their income tax cut. To find out how much you’ll save, use our simple tax cut calculator today:

Find out how much you'll save

Yours,

Priti Patel

Nick Clegg told last year how he had to “drag the Tories kicking and screaming” to deliver the tax cut.

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Nick Harvey: ‘If you think we are going to spend another five years being shafted (this time) by Labour, you’ve got another think coming’

The Liberal Democrat coalition negotiation team leave Cowley Street HQ for the fourth day of discussions with the Conservatives May 10th 2010.

Earlier this week we highlighted Nick Harvey MP’s report “Beyond the Rose Garden”. In it, he recommends a range of changes in arrangements for any future coalition governments.

In the wake of his report’s publication, Nick has now given an extensive interview with Huffington Post

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Opinion: Tax more and spend less

Nick Clegg with 2010 manifesto at Glasgow 2014 by Liberal Democrats

The 2010 election was notable for the failure of the three main parties to spell out clearly how they would reduce the budget deficit.  No-one wanted to scare the voters away.

2015 is already proving different. Nick Clegg has announced that Liberal Democrats would increase taxes by at least £8 billion and bring in a further £6 billion by tackling tax avoidance. There would still be up to £16 billion cut from  expenditure, £12 billion from government departments and £4 billion from welfare. Whilst not exactly a return to Keynesian economics, this is nevertheless a huge step away from the Tory approach which seemed to have dominated coalition fiscal policy. The balance between expenditure cuts and tax increases under Tory plans for the next parliament would be 98:2 whereas we will be proposing 60:40.

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Three moments from today’s PMQs

I’ve taken to avoiding Prime Minister’s Questions. However today, I had no choice. At the moment it feels like a particularly angry and vindictive goat has stuffed my sinuses full of bits of cardboard box and is now kicking me in the head. I couldn’t even muster up the energy to get up from the sofa, where I was lying feeling sorry for myself, to find the remote control to switch it off.

The impending election doesn’t seem to have persuaded MPs to behave in a more grown-up fashion. I don’t think anything will change until Speaker John Bercow actually starts throwing people out. It’s nasty, shouty, brawly and hideously unpleasant and it’s all most people see of the work of the Mother of Parliaments. In fact, much goes on that is consensual, professional and pleasant from people of all parties.

Anyway, here are three moments in the half hour which were noteworthy.

Cameron takes credit for Liberal Democrat policy klaxon

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Miss Trunchbull to play Nick Clegg

Well, I thought that was a good headline. So much better than “The actor who played Miss Trunchbull is to play Nick Clegg” or “Actor Bertie Carvel to play Nick Clegg”, both of which would have been less misleading.

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Our general election campaign in the last week – a strong start?

This post is reserved for new and infrequent commenters. “Infrequent” is defined as having post less than five comments in the last month.

A cursory scan of LDV’s posts over the last week confirms that the general election campaign is firing on all cylinders, both on the ground and “in the air”:

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Clegg’s #asktheleader session

Sky News have put all their Stand up and be Counted #AsktheLeaders sessions on their website. Nick Clegg’s is here.

I felt he was best at making it more like a conversation with the young people, listening to what she had to say. He was also much more confident on the facts and details on all the issues, particularly housing and the NHS.

As for the others, Natalie Bennett’s heart is in the right place but her party’s policies are not well thought through and I didn’t need to listen to her for half an hour to find out that she’d push for action on the environment and climate change in a hung parliament. I suspect every woman in the country was briefly on her side when she described how being denied a bike at the age of 5 because she was a girl made her a feminist.

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Nick Clegg on Sky News Ask the Leaders event today

AsktheleadersUpdate: After some confusion it seems that Nick will now be appearing later. David Cameron has also agreed to appear later today.

Sky News is running an Ask the Leaders event today, with young people asking the questions. The Q&A sessions with each leader (Miliband, Clegg and Bennett, but not Cameron, it seems) will be shown live on Sky News for 30 minutes followed by 15 minutes on Facebook. Nick Clegg’s turn comes at 12 noon.

You can watch live updates or get involved on #AskTheLeaders or on the Stand Up Be Counted

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How does Clegg build on the success of The Last Leg?

Nick Clegg on The Last Leg 6I’m so glad I hadn’t watched The Last Leg ahead of Nick Clegg’s appearance last night. It would not have been good for my health because I’d have been worrying about how he’d fare in that pretty brutal, blokey environment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hilarious, but a massive risk for a politician. Even the next morning, in the light of day and the absence of red wine goggles, I still think, as I did last night, that he did very well.

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Clegg on the Last Leg – first thoughts

Nick Clegg on the Last Leg2Well, I’d never seen The Last Leg before. I’ll be watching it again, though. It was very, very funny. And it’s not only trending on Twitter in the UK, it’s number 3 in the World.

There are two contradictory truths about Nick Clegg’s appearance on the show. His natural manner and willingness to engage in the banter while holding on (just) to his dignity has won him a lot of friends but I predict acres of snooty, disapproving newsprint tomorrow from people using words like “unbecoming for a Deputy Prime Minister.” Quentin Letts will probably have worked himself up into  a frenzy. I think the Cleggster has done himself a few favours though. A quick look down the #cleggleg thread on Twitter showed that he had impressed:

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Nick Clegg on The Last Leg tonight

last-leg204Nick Clegg will be appearing on The Last Leg at 10pm on Channel 4 this evening.

I will certainly be watching – in fact, I have been a fan of the programme since it first appeared during the 2012 Paralympics. After tiring but exhilarating days spent working as a Gamesmaker, it was great to flop down and watch this totally refreshing and irreverent take on the day’s events with disability at its heart. It cleared away a lot of misconceptions through its #isitok feature and the regular joshing between the three presenters, two of whom have …

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Opinion: Open doors and open minds

yellow door ppb

So then, we all saw it, did we? The starting gun for the Liberal Democrats election campaign was well and truly fired on Wednesday with the airing of three different versions of a very similar Party Political Broadcast.

‘Open Doors’ puts a focus on the LibDems as a campaigning force, but importantly for me, it also makes a very clear point about how we operate as a party – we listen to our communities, and we work with them to achieve change. Rather than it being Nick standing around …

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Some notes on Nick Clegg’s Breakfast TV performance this morning

Nick Clegg appeared on BBC Breakfast this morning. He was in Bristol handing out money as part of the drive to give greater powers to communities and cities.

I have a few words of unsolicited advice for him on his performance.

First up, I do get decentralisation. I’m a liberal. Of course I do. I am not, however, that happy about Nick’s rather melodramatic description of what he was doing as “Taking money out of the clammy hands of bureaucrats in Whitehall and giving it to local communities.” It’s the sort of hyperbolic language that we would rightly have a go at if it came from Farage. These people Nick sees in offices in Whitehall every day presumably take pride in their work and have feelings – and votes. The language is slightly reminiscent of the way he used to speak of our friends in the House of Lords – you remember, the “they just turn up and get £300″ line when actually our lot were working their behinds off.  It’s a bit counter-productive. He actually had a half decent line that he didn’t really need to add to:

Every day in government I’ve been trying to end “Whitehall knows best” culture which has been holding country back for far too long.

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Open Doors: All 3 versions of the first Lib Dem broadcast of the year

The Liberal Democrats’ first crack at the General Election broadcasts is being shown as you read this.

With the theme of Open Doors, it’s about listening to voters and majors on how the Liberal Democrats would make a difference compared to Labour and the Conservatives.You may not be surprised to find that the phrases “stronger economy”, “fairer society” and “opportunity for everyone” feature.

Here is the English version. The Scottish and Welsh will follow below when they are available.

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How the Daily Mirror works

There was a curious story in the Daily Mirror over the weekend. It incorrectly refers to Chevening as ‘Nick Clegg’s estate’, and ‘the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister’s land’ when it is, of course, a property owned by the Government. It is usually made available to the Foreign Secretary so s/he can entertain Foreign ministers in some privacy.

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Three things you need to know about the new powers going to Scotland

There are some very interesting articles about the forthcoming Scotland Bill, the details of which were unveiled on Thursday, in today’s press.

The Tories were trying to back out and Clegg, Alexander and Carmichael wouldn’t let them

According to Michael Moore in Scotland on Sunday today.

 It is not a surprise to me that the Conservatives fought tooth and nail to remove some of the key elements of the Smith agreement.

We saw in the commission itself they adopted two or three different positions in the space of 48 hours on welfare and were clearly in touch with London colleagues at every stage.

We resisted it there and I am glad that my Liberal Democrat colleagues have resisted it in terms of the bill. There is no question in my mind that without Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg digging in on this over the last crucial 48 hours before the bill was published, we would have ended up with the whole Smith process unravelling.

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Nick Clegg takes questions on Men’s Health UK’s Facebook page

Nick Clegg's men's health q and aOn Thursday, Nick Clegg took part in a question and answer session on the Men’s Health UK Facebook page. The magazine has published some of the session here.

He talked quite movingly about the need to tackle the stigma attached to mental health to make it easier for particularly men to talk about their illness:

 One of the keys to changing this is to ensure that mental health trusts work with families and friends of patients just as much as with the patients themselves. When I visited the superb Mersey Care trust last week I met a patient who told me that when he was in hospital for a heart operation he received a constant and welcome stream of visiting friends and family. Yet when he was in a mental health ward for five months he received only three visits during his whole time there. That says all we need to know about the crippling effect of the stigma that still surrounds mental health. That’s why campaigns like Time to Change are so vital.

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Opinion: Some thoughts on preventing suicide

Nick Clegg has been quoted this week as calling for the NHS “to commit to a new ambition for zero suicides”. That is an aspiration that nobody could argue with, but it is unrealistic to believe that it can quite be achieved. Throughout human history and in every kind of society people have died by their own hand, and it would be naïve to believe that a government initiative can single-handedly change that. Nevertheless, he is right to identify suicide as a “massive taboo”. He is also right to raise awareness of the risk. He was speaking particularly in relation to mental health, but we should not infer from that that everybody who contemplates suicide is mentally ill, even though many people suffering from mental illness may indeed see suicide as an escape from an unbearable life.

He was also speaking in relation to the NHS’s role. To be fair, doctors and psychiatrists do routinely ask patients who are depressed or otherwise at risk whether they are suicidal, and many involved in the medical profession are trained to recognise indications of suicidal thought. And everybody who arrives in A&E departments after a suicide attempt is supposed to be seen by a psychiatrist before being discharged, but inevitably many people will simply be returning to the situation from which they were trying to get away. We should also recognise that, among all those in the care of a government-funded organisation, the risk of suicide is rather greater among people sentenced to prison or remanded in custody than it is among those cared for by the health services. Sadly, calling for better emotional support of prisoners does not have the same electoral appeal as concern about the NHS.

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Nick Clegg tells Chilcot: People will think your report is being “sexed down”

Following tonight’s news about the further delay in the publication of the Chilcot Report until after the election, Nick Clegg has written to Sir John Chilcott to ask him to get on with it.

Here’s his letter in full 

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