Clegg: I am not like Obama (but we share the same policies and ideas)

There’s a good, in-depth and upbeat interview with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg in today’s Newcastle Journal:

A chipper Mr Clegg declared the North East would be his key hunting ground at the next general election and predicted that regional minister Nick Brown could even succumb to a Lib Dem sweep. … he stressed the North East was “one of the most important areas” for the Lib Dems after “astonishing” local council gains in Northumberland and ongoing success in Newcastle.

However, with tomorrow’s inaugration of Barack Obama dominating the media, Nick was very careful to avoid coming over all ‘me too’, while stressing the similarities between the soon-to-be-President’s programme of change, and the Lib Dems’ platform:

“If you look at policies and if you look at values in terms of opposing the Iraq war, which he did in America, we were the only party to do it here. In terms of giving big tax cuts to people on low and middle incomes, paid for by closing the loopholes at the top, we are the only party to advocate that here.”

He also linked his party’s emphasis on “green” economic growth with investment in public transport, insulation, housing and offshore wind farms that could create up to 80,000 jobs in the North East.

“Those are all themes which Obama is saying, but I mean I have never entered into this silly Dutch auction which Gordon Brown and David Cameron did – the me too auction saying I am just like Barack Obama. Of course, I am not like Barack Obama but I think it is clear that the Liberal Democrats share all the policies and values that have proved to be very popular in America.”

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  • “He also linked his party’s emphasis on “green” economic growth with investment in public transport, insulation, housing and offshore wind farms that could create up to 80,000 jobs in the North East.”

    Again Clegg talks of “investment” in developing renewable energy, although the policy documents suggest that investment in renewables by the state isn’t party policy.

    Has party policy changed? Or is Clegg just saying what he thinks his audience wants to hear again?

  • Grammar Police 19th Jan '09 - 11:13pm

    Perhaps you are just reading what you want to read (again).

  • Grammar Police

    Well, if you read that document – which outlines how the Lib Dems would have used the £12.5bn that went into the one-off cut in VAT – you’ll see that renewable energy is not so much as mentioned in the half-page summary on the first page.

    Looking further at the details, renewable energy is mentioned in the section headed “Insulating schools and hsopitals” – where the possibility of “a windmill in the corner of a playing field” is mentioned. And then there is something about loans to fund “micro-renewables” in maybe 5-10% of homes.

    Judging by the costings given in the document, the total cost of this investment in renewables might be perhaps a one-off payment of £1bn, much of it in loans that would have to be repaid.

    Where on earth “offshore wind farms” fit into that picture I can’t imagine.

    But in any case, as the £12.5bn has already been spent on something else, the Lib Dems will not be able to spend it on anything, so none of the proposals in that document can fairly be represented as party policy for the future.

    In contrast, the cost of developing renewables sufficiently to meet Lib Dem aspirations over the next few decades will be several hundred billion pounds. The question is, where will the money come from? And if the party hasn’t budgeted for significant investment in renewable energy, isn’t it completely dishonest to give people the impression it has?

  • Obama is a socialist who should not be supported by true liberals.

  • Oh dear.

    Does that mean Nick Clegg is a socialist?

  • Chris White 20th Jan '09 - 1:50pm

    You’ve baffled me. I know that the Republican Right were keen to portray Obama as a socialist (probably the same people who believed that calling someone a Moslem was an insult). But on what grounds? Where is the nationalisation of the means of production? Where is the massive redistribution? Where is the centralism?

    The truth is we don’t really know what Obama is. That will become clearer, we expect, from about 5 pm today but it will be months before the mists will clear ad Obama-ism is revealed. I fear that he may be another soft Tory, Clinton-style. I hope, however, he will be something greater in terms of the environment and a coherent foreign policy.

    Nick’s caution in me-too ism is particularly appropriate in the hours before this extraordinary man is inaugurated.

    But I doubt we’ll see much socialism.

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