Clegg on Murnaghan: Osborne sat there and talked about “your tax threshold policy”

Nick Clegg LBCNick Clegg appeared on Sky News’ Murnaghan programme and took questions on a wide range of subjects. First up was the issue at the top of the headlines today – schools.

He said that his speech didn’t represent a great coalition crisis, that he was purely stating what he had always said and that it’s simply a difference of opinion between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. While he remains a great supporter of freedom and diversity within the schools system, there are three things that he wants to ensure, and that he says the majority of parents expect wherever children receive their state funded education. They are:

  • that the National Curriculum will be taught
  • that teachers will be properly qualified
  • that the food on offer will be of decent quality

He said that the Tories didn’t favour basic standards about those things, but he did and had always made that case in government. He was keen to emphasise that nothing he was saying was new.

The interview  then moved on to talk about the Liberal Democrats’ flagship policy of raising the tax threshold. He said that it was flattering that the Tories are trying to claim it as their own, but it was clear from their manifesto that their priorities on tax involved giving tax cuts to millionaires and marriage tax breaks. He added that he had been in meetings with George Osborne where the Chancellor had talked about “your tax policy” and tried to extract concessions for agreeing to implement it. This was confirmed on Twitter by Olly Grender who is in a position to know these things:

Clegg concluded by saying that there was only one reason why money was going back into the pockets of basic rate taxpayers – because of the Liberal Democrats.

Unsurprisingly, energy bills came up. After the media furore over the last few days, it maybe wasn’t the best wardrobe choice to be interviewed wearing a jumper. Having said that, I think most people accept the good sense behind putting warmer clothes on before turning the heating up. Nick talked about the things Ed Davey is doing in terms of making the market more open and transparent so that people can get the best deal for them from energy providers. Davey himself wrote here about other things such as the warm homes discount,and collective switching.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Caron, if Nick Clegg wants teachers to be trained, why did he vote for the legislation that permits them not to be trained?

    He’s turning your party into a joke for saying he now opposes policies that are only enabled because he, and his party, voted for them!

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 20th Oct '13 - 2:21pm

    There are times when, in coalition, you have to vote for things you don’t like in order to get other things you do – like, for example, the Pupil Premium. But it is quite important that you show where you’ve argued for something different. And what you’d change given half a chance.

  • ..and the time and place for such a stance is when you vote for the legislation, not when the effects of the legislation are becoming a self-evident disaster that will (hopefully) kill the political career of the person who invented it!

    It seems very opportunistic that Clegg is only now objecting.

  • @Caron
    Spot on. However, too often Lib Dems defend those policies rather than make it plain they are a trade off. A good example being Laws this week.

  • Tony Greaves 20th Oct '13 - 4:38pm

    People who say these things have no idea how a coalition works or how the UK Parliament works. The coalition is based on millions of discussions and deals and compromises. If each party voted on what it wanted on everything, it is not a coalition, it’s a sharing out of positions but not a coalition, The problem is that the LDs only have one MP for every 6 Tories. If everything was a free vote, LDs would get far less than we get now. In the UK Parliament it wouldnot be stable, there would have been a General Election very soon after the last one, and the real risk that the Tories would now be governing with an overall majority.

    Looser deals which allow parties to vote on each issue are possible in local Councils (indeed I am part of one in Pendle) but a national government on such lines simply would not be stable. (And I write as someone who as a backbencher fails to support the government more often than the Whips would like).


  • “There are times when, in coalition, you have to vote for things you don’t like in order to get other things you do – like, for example, the Pupil Premium”

    A bizarre example, considering the version of the Pupil Premium the coalition has enacted was Tory policy anyway!

  • Of course, England would again be following Scotland in education, where all teachers in state schools must be both properly qualified and registered with the General Teaching Council of Scotland. I thought at the time that scrapping GTC England was a hugely short-sighted mistake, and still do.

  • Can someone also remind me when official Lib Dem policy became to support the National Curriculum? Your starter for 10…

  • Re my question on National curriculum, I note Stephen Tall on another thread saying the party endorsed the “slimmed down” Nat Curr in 2011. Was that the first time?

  • Tony Greaves,

    1) Nick Clegg’s support of Free Schools has been enthusiastic, not grudging, up to now. He gave no indication that this was a policy he reluctantly voted for to hold the Coalition together.

    2) Can we stop this myth that we would have a Tory majority if the Lib Dems hadn’t gone into Coalition. Nobody knows, but almost all previous governments have decreased their vote in subsequent elections, so it is a less likely outcome than a reduced Tory vote and thus reduced Tory power in any subsequent government.

  • I would be interested to know if Nick C is happy at the prospect of our children being taught by 67 year old teachers. Teaching is a very demanding profession requiring energy and enthusiasm. Doubtless many teachers can provide this at 67 but then many firemen could clamber up ladders at 60 as well!!!

  • Paul Pettinger 21st Oct '13 - 12:39pm

    Other than maintained schools having to follow the National Curriculum, what has any of what Clegg has said got to specifically to Free Schools? Clegg’s understanding seems as superficial as the analysis offered by many Free School advocates, of which is was a proud champion and enabler.

  • Having other people adopt your policies and seeing them become part of the consensus is what winning the argument looks like – at the next election probably no major party will be in favour of having the income tax threshold well below the full time minimum wage and gay marriage will be a non-issue.

    Of course if career is more important than achievement then winning the argument is annoying and a mistake.

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