Tag Archives: nick clegg

Nick Clegg writes…Europe makes Britain great

Unlike many of our neighbours, Britain did not join the EU as a way of embracing a new, modern identity. For the Germans, French, Italians and the Benelux countries, European co-operation represented the victory of peace over war. For Spain, Greece and Portugal, membership signified the victory of democracy over fascism. For many newer members, it was about throwing off the tyranny of Soviet communism.
Not us. Joining the European Community was a pounds and pence calculation of what was good for us, done with a shrug of the shoulders and an ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ acceptance that the age of empire was over.

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Nick Clegg on the Brexit Betrayal

Last Thursday,the European Movement held a “Lead not Leave” rally in Edinburgh in support of a Remain vote. Just before the event started, the news that Jo Cox had been shot came through but at that time we didn’t realise the full horror of what had happened.

All the contributions from the cross-party panel were superb. The Greens’ Sarah Beattie-Smith was passionate on women’s rights, climate change and the EU having the power to make sure multi-nationals pay their taxes.  Tory Jackson Carlaw said he’d been surprised by how much a Remain vote had come to mean to him. North East Fife SNP MP Stephen Gethins, who had been disgracefully misquoted on the Vote Leave leaflet was passionate about membership of the EU. Kezia Dugdale was warm and talked about some very practical reasons we need to stay for social justice and workers.

The final speaker was our own Nick Clegg. He was pretty stark. He talked about the reality of Brexit, waking up to discover that the Leave lot don’t know what’s happening, the Tories are immersed in a bloodbath, there’s constitutional gridlock and the economy is, frankly, down the toilet. It was one of the best speeches I’ve heard him make.

It was very different in style to his tremendous resignation speech, but no less powerful and compelling. The scenario he sets out is very plausible. He wasn’t trying to appeal to the audience. He knew that he was at an event where most people were going to be pretty passionately in favour of Remain. He wanted to address his remarks to the waverers. Your mission, dear readers, for the next few days is to play this to as many waverers as you can.

Now, the whole thing is definitely worth watching, but if you just want Nick, go to about 25:55.

I had recorded his speech (and Kezia’s) on their own. It was my first time using Periscope and to say that I screwed it up royally is an understatement. For a start, I didn’t realise you had to type in what your were broadcasting so people had a clue what the random video was.

I had  meant to embed the tweets in which they were broadcast on Thursday, but it obviously wasn’t appropriate to do so and they only last for 24 hours.

By some miracle, the recordings are still on the app, and I’d love to shove them on You Tube but I can’t work out how. If you know, please tell me.

Enjoy. The text (more or less) of Nick’s speech is under the cut but listen to it if you can. The energy of his delivery really brings it alive.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Brexit Lords have a cheek to complain about EU democracy

Nick Clegg turned to the subject of EU democracy in his Standard column this week.

He was quick to point out the irony of members of the House of Lords castigating the democracy of the EU:

With more than 800 members, the House of Lords is only second to China’s National People’s Congress in size and is about as undemocratic: unique in Europe, its members can revise and amend the laws of the land without anyone actually being elected. It is, in short, an affront to the basic democratic principle that those who make the laws of the land should be elected by those who obey the laws of the land.

Yet this obvious inconsistency appears to have escaped Lord Lawson et al when they berate the EU as “profoundly undemocratic”. I find what they do every day in the House of Lords profoundly undemocratic too.

The rest of our democracy is riddled with faults too:

Similarly, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and the other Brexit ministers appear to be entirely untroubled that they serve in a Government that garnered no more than 24 per cent of the eligible vote. Such an undemocratic outcome — wielding unchallenged power when three quarters of voters either voted for another party or didn’t vote at all — is, it seems, acceptable to these high priests of democratic virtue.

The truth is that our own democracy is in need of a complete overhaul. Westminster is hopelessly stuck in the past: MPs are not allowed to shake each other’s hands on the parliamentary estate; we can’t call each other by our names and must instead use arcane titles such as “my right honourable friend” or “the gallant and learned gentleman”. We are not allowed to clap in the Commons so we register our approval by manically guffawing and waving papers instead.

The EU has its flaws, but it’s not lack of democracy that causes the problem:

What I would never advocate, however, is that Westminster and Whitehall should be razed to the ground or that we should quit our democratic institutions altogether. Yet that is precisely what Brexiteers are inviting us to do: respond to the flaws in the EU, which are numerous, by turning our backs on it altogether.

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Nick Clegg: Being in Europe has not held us back, it has thrust us forward

Yesterday, Nick Clegg made a keynote speech at the National Liberal Club outlining the reasons Britain should stay in the EU. He tore the Leave campaign apart for its false figures and assertions. One widely quoted line is that Boris Johnson is “Trump with a thesaurus.” But that’s not all he said. He was very clear that the EU, including the single market, had had British influence at its heart. It’s not something that was imposed on us. We helped create it – and it’s been good for us.

And in the modern era, being in the European Union has also helped us to flourish. Britain today is a major world power.

We are one of the world’s most powerful economies;

we are a cultural powerhouse;

our capital is one of the world’s most popular destinations;

our universities are among the very best on the planet;

our businesses lead the world in everything from computer games to wind power.

If being part of the EU was such a drag on our prospects, as the Brexiteers claim, how come we have achieved all this whilst being part of the European Community and the EU for the last 41 years?

He argues that we need the safety in numbers that the EU provides to cope with the challenges of the 21st century:

The 21st century world is one of profound global challenges: climate change, extremism, mass migration, the globalised economy.

The European Union gives us the strength in numbers that we need to meet those challenges.

All over the world countries are responding to the challenges of a globalised economy by coming together to form trading blocs – from Nafta to Asean, from Mercosur to the Pacific Alliance.

In the EU we are part of a single market with the enormous clout that 500 million consumers gives us.

That clout allows us to go toe to toe with the Americans, the Chinese, the Indians, the Russians and everybody else on the global stage.

Going it alone would mean we are trying to compete in that landscape with the much smaller clout of 60-odd million people.

Here’s the speech in full:

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Beware the brash bluff and bluster of the Brexit sharks

Nick Clegg has taken prominent Leave campaigners to task over their recent pronouncements in his latest Standard column:

He draws an analogy from the iconic tv programme Happy Days:

As the writers of the TV show Happy Days approached their fifth season they were running out of ideas for storylines. So, in the season premiere, they sent the Fonz to Los Angeles where, in a bid to prove his bravery, he put on a pair of water skis and jumped over a shark.

That moment spawned a phrase — “jumping the shark” — which is used to describe the moment when something is taken too far, loses all credibility and makes everyone involved look silly.

In recent weeks, the Brexit campaign has jumped the shark.

He then looks at the wilder pronouncements of Boris, Farage and Penny Mordaunt before turning on an old adversary of his, Dominic Cummings. Nick and Cummings have some pretty serious history. I doubt that they are on each others’ Christmas card lists.

Dominic Cummings, a senior figure in Vote Leave, has suggested that those who believe we should remain in the EU are like the appeasers of the 1930s. Wearing the slightly crazed look of someone who jumps sharks for a living, Cummings told the Commons Treasury Committee that the “conventional wisdom” of today is as misguided as it was then. The fixation with the Nazis among Brexiteers is as historically illiterate as it is revolting.

Cummings has asserted that the Cabinet Secretary, Jeremy Heywood, is running an intimidation scam out of the Cabinet Office, threatening people to toe a pro-European line. I saw the Cabinet Office at work for five years. It is a slightly herbivorous part of the government machine. The notion that it is the Whitehall equivalent of the Sopranos is laughable.

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Clegg speaks at #libdempint’s first birthday – on the Lib Dem recovery and the stark choice we have on EU

After 20,000 people joined us in the wake of the horrific election result last year, a few of them had the idea of trying to get a few of them together in London for a drink. A few hundred turned up, Nick Clegg came to speak and the #libdempint phenomenon was born. They’ve spread across the country and are characterised by a few speeches from ordinary members as well as the occasional appearance from the great and the good.

#libdempint celebrates its first birthday today. It was obvious that the guest of honour had to be Nick Clegg. For the next 22 hours or so, you can watch his speech, thanks to Jon Ball putting it up on Periscope. Enjoy.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: The Tories should leave the BBC alone. We all have a stake in it

The BBC is the subject of Nick Clegg’s regular Standard column this week. He argues strongly against the sort of intervention outlined in the Government’s White Paper and lists the ways in which the Tories have picked fight with the institutions we hold dear.

In the absence of a clear plan, and unchallenged by any meaningful opposition, they have indulged their own prejudices: picking fights with the BBC, junior doctors, headteachers, refugees, low-paid workers, housing association tenants and each other on Europe. No wonder they bounce from one ill-judged initiative to the next. As each announcement disintegrates on contact with political daylight, they are forced into a series of humiliating U-turns, from enforced academisation of schools to disability benefit cuts. So nursing their own bias against the BBC is a symptom, rather than a cause, of the underlying problem: unchallenged power without a sense of purpose.

The BBC isn’t perfect, he argues, but it’s still one of this country’s proudest achievements:

Some argue that the Tories are simply echoing the views of their backers in the Murdoch press and the Daily Mail. Others say many Conservatives seem to view the BBC as a political enemy, run by a cabal of Guardian-reading academics and latte-sipping metropolitan Lefties with an axe to grind.

I have no idea whether these allegations are true — though the idea that the BBC is biased against the Conservatives is patently ludicrous. In fact, if unwittingly, the BBC provided a huge boost to the Conservatives last year by obsessing about the prospect of a Labour-minority Government, so amplifying the Conservatives’ central campaign message. Given that every political party at some point seems to think the BBC is against them — from red-faced SNP supporters during the Scottish independence referendum to the revolting sexist bilge directed at political editor Laura Kuenssberg by angry Corbynistas last week — it suggests that it is probably in the right place. God knows I have had my own grumbles about Lib-Dem representation, or lack of it, on BBC programmes in the past

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 12 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMark Goodrich 30th Jun - 1:57am
    I agree wholeheatedly with the article. It is not right to say that it denies the benefits of free movement. It recognises them but also...
  • User AvatarMark Goodrich 30th Jun - 1:45am
    I have been posing the question on Twitter (@markygoodrich) and trying to find information on what the advantages of the Norway option are. As far...
  • User AvatarCllr Mark Wright 30th Jun - 12:35am
    Some very good posts above by Matthew Huntbach (apart from the Clegg bashing!)
  • User AvatarHugh 29th Jun - 11:39pm
    Jayne, like like the drift of your article, but I do not think a single person voted Leave because of the recent Housing or Planning...
  • User AvatarKevin colwill 29th Jun - 11:34pm
    "And the people chose FPTP over a fairer system – that’s democracy" but it's not set in stone like some unchanging law of physics. One...
  • User AvatarRoland 29th Jun - 11:23pm
    I think you’ll find that the virtually all the 17 million people who voted to leave the EU actually voted to leave the EU. Don't...