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.

Here are some of the highlights.

He started by remembering that mixture of desire for revenge  and regret which led people to  join the Lib Dems after the Election last year.

The recent Election results are an “extraordinarily encouraging step. I think the recovery will happen quickly, but it needs your blood, sweat and shoe leather.”

Then he moved on to his specialist subject, Europe.

The first obvious point about the EU referendum is that the debate, if you can dignify it, is what we think about ourselves, what vision we have about our own nation in the world. It is an extraordinarily stark clash of visions and values. Either people want us to be fully engaged in the EU or isolated…

As a Dad I am acutely aware that the consequences of the decision we take will fall up on the shoulders of our children. He says Gove, Johnson and Farage are willing to sacrifice all we gain from the EU on an altar of ramshackle prejudices.

He talked about their  “vicious, nasty, small-minded and mendacious” campaign.

He slated Boris, who has ambitions to lead the country, for travelling around the place in a bus (someone pointed out it was a German bus) emblazoned with a lie.

Anyone who dares dispute the views of the “swivel-eyed anti Europeans” is shouted down in the most vitriolic, vituperative manner.

It is a racing certainty that Scotland would leave what remains of the UK shortly after Brexit.

Do we want our country to be bamboozled, bullied and pushed around by this mixture of rich vested interests, nasty politics and downright falsehoods that characterise the Brexit campaign.

Do everything you can till 23rd June to persuade your friends and campaign. Don’t leave an undecided voter unturned.

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38 Comments

  • “I think the recovery will happen quickly…”

    Surely this is exactly the mis-reading of politics from Team-Clegg that got the party into this existential crisis.

  • After that Nick went to a LibdemIN meeting in Herne Hill/Brixton & gave a brilliant speech arguing that this debate is about how we see ourselves & our Country. After that he took questions & then chatted with the crowd. It was a packed out meeting with a wide ranging discussion.

  • Clegg was directly responsible for our electoral disaster. Why are we still giving him air time?

  • What a pity Tim Farron’s invitation got lost in the post,.. looks like he missed a Masterclass speech on… Success in Coalition Politics, from the present leader of the Liberal Democrat Party. 🙂

  • “Either people want us to be fully engaged in the EU or isolated…”

    Well thats wrong for a start, very few people take either of those views. Just as be bungled the debate he had with Farage, Clegg really has no idea how to comminicate with the concerns of ordinary voters.

    Recovery won’t happen because of “blood sweat and shoe leather” – target seats boosted of 1 million plus leaflets delivered in a year and record canvassing – all futile in the absense of a relevent message. It would be nice if the man largely responsible for the obiteration of the Lib Dems as a political force in Britain retired quietly.

  • The differnce in the party is those who want to progress look to the future and the others, including some on this page just want to keep arguing the past. Come on lads, anyone who saw Cleggs speech at the Union knows he is a great orator….he was not responsible for all the problems of the coalition and if, despite the slings and arrows etc he wants to help us move forward good for him. My old mum used to say if you cannot speak nicely about someone, dont say anything

  • Perhaps worth noting that many of those who have joined the party in the last year have done so because of NC and not in spite of him

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 17th May '16 - 10:49am

    I’m with ATF and Bob Sayer here. Let the person who has never made a mistake cast the first stone.

    Nick Clegg is a decent bloke with his heart in the right place. Sure, he screwed some stuff up during the coalition years, but the difference he and our ministers made can be seen by the daily government by Daily Mail headline that we see now.

    Nick is still popular amongst a good cross section of people who would vote for us and he is one of our MPs. When he says something I don’t agree with, I’ll say, but I don’t want him to hide in a corner for the next 4 years because he’s an effective communicator and an asset to our cause.

  • @: Caron “Nick Clegg is a decent bloke with his heart in the right place. Sure, he screwed some stuff up during the coalition years”

    I don’t doubt any of that, Caron, and when I watched his speech on the link I came to exactly the same conclusion.

    But I’m sorry, ATF, many of us who had been long standing members since the 1960’s came back last May after much disillusionment hoping for a different more radical direction in keeping with our left of centre traditions. The judges are still out on that one, but let’s hope time is a healer and we can all reflect on what is best (including Nick) if we are to move forward.

  • Whatever we may or may not think we do need to harness the left of centre vote and NC is anthema to most of that group in the Northern and Midland conurabtions as well as Scotland and Wales. It is a case of trying to move forward not standing still. The past is past, now for the future.

  • Julian Heather 17th May '16 - 12:23pm

    “Clegg was directly responsible for our electoral disaster. Why are we still giving him air time?”
    No, Alex, Clegg was not “directly responsible” for our electoral disaster. If you want to blame anyone, blame the 2000 activists who were at the special conference in Birmingham who voted to go into coalition with the Tories on the basis of the draft coalition agreement in front of them. Only a handful of attendees voted against us going into coalition. I wasn’t there, but it was the right decision and I too would have voted for it if I had been at that special conference. Going into Government was bound to lose us support form those millions of voters who had previously supported us because we were the party of protest, unsullied by being in power. And going in with the Tories lost us another swathe of voters from tactical Labour voters, who never believed we would do such a thing. And if we had gone in with Labour we would have instead lost votes from Tory-leaning voters. Being in favour of PR meant, ipso facto, that we were also prepared to go into coalition. That we ended up having to go into coalition during a time of massive international economic crisis, rather than in a period of stable prosperity, was cruel bad luck. We were not dealt a good hand.

  • Eddie Sammmon 17th May '16 - 12:59pm

    Just watched Nick Clegg’s Lib Dem Pint speech:

    First of all: I think Alex Macfie is being too harsh on Nick. Why can’t we give him airtime? He pursued what he believed in and thought it would be easier to expand the Lib Dem voter base. He turned me into a loyal voter. Not enough others, but I could see what he was trying to achieve and largely agreed with it.

    Secondly: he needs a wider message on the EU. He kind of has his foot to the floor with statements such as “there is no future for Great Britain other than as a fully engaged and full leading member of the EU” (paraphrased).

    It seems fatalistic – there is no alternative so we just have to accept what is on offer.

    And Thirdly: I know I can sound like a hypocrite on this because I get passionate about the EU too, but swing-voters and undecides need to be at the back of one’s mind all the time. I know he mentioned them there, but he isn’t going to win many other with statements such as that.

  • Matt (Bristol) 17th May '16 - 1:17pm

    I am not particularly committed to remaking the world or the LibDems in the (fuzzy) image of the Orange Book. or of the Coalition. In fact, I am often sorely tempted to violently repudiate both concepts.

    But trying to gag Nick Clegg would be like like Hague or Major trying to gag Ken Clarke or Thatcher, Blair trying to gag Michael Foot … or Baldwin trying to gag Churchill.

    However desirable it might be from the point of view of message management, we have to accept that parties are broad-based coalitions, with history that cannot be airbrushed out or immediately dropped when it becomes undesirable.

    I do not want a New LibDems year-zero project, like that of Blair, whether it comes from the right or the left or the centre of the party’s positional heritage (or from anywhere else, for that matter).

    I would, like a lot of people – but not everyone – strongly wish the party to more actively recognise in its messaging that many people in the party do not (either from hindsight or long-held principle) think the Coalition was a great idea, and that that Coalition was never LibDem thinking personified.

    But I really do think I would be daft if I asked our leadership to try to convince people that we all must act as if the Clegg years did not or should not have happened, or were the work of demonic possession.

  • When Nick Clegg took over the leadership the Lib Dems had – I think – over 4,000 councilors, 62 MP’s, 12 MEP’s, 16 Scottish Assembly Members, 6 Welsh Assembly Members and 3 London Assembly Members. After the massive losses since then I think most people would say keep him out of the public eye. However, this is the Lib Dems so you get people saying “Nick is still popular amongst a good cross section of people who would vote for us”. I wonder what evidence some of you need to prove that the guy just isn’t rated by the voters.

  • Julian Heather 17th May ’16 – 12:23pm That we ended up having to go into coalition during a time of massive international economic crisis, rather than in a period of stable prosperity, was cruel bad luck. We were not dealt a good hand………..

    Actually, we were dealt a very good hand….We just played it very badly.

    We had the opportunity/responsibility to stand up for measures to alleviate the crisis and to vote against those driven by dogma…. Instead such measures as ‘top-down NHS reorganisation’, ‘bedroom tax’, etc. were passed ‘on the nod’….From ‘saviours to enablers’ was a short step…

    Repeated losses in councils, European and By-elections were glossed over and when it became obvious, even to LDV, that Clegg was a liability it was deemed ‘too late’ to change….

  • Peter Watson 17th May '16 - 1:47pm

    @Julian Heather “We were not dealt a good hand.”
    And Lib Dems played that hand abysmally.
    I don’t think the act of going into coalition is what did the damage: it was the way that being in coalition was carried out, how it was presented, and the way that evidence of damage to the party was wilfully ignored or dismissed. And for that, the party’s leadership and MPs do deserve the blame for what befell them. Sadly there is little evidence that the party has learnt or changed despite the great opportunity that a new leader offered.

  • paul barker 17th May '16 - 1:52pm

    Whatever the rights & wrongs of The Coalition, it was a collective decision to join & to stay in. The members who wanted us to pull out seemed to have learned nothing from their failure; it was their attacks on Clegg that stopped anyone listening to them.
    Parties that continually refight old battles lose.

  • Having read the messages on this thread, I am in the same camp as Bob Sayer’s old mum.

  • paul barker 17th May ’16 – 1:52pm……………….Whatever the rights & wrongs of The Coalition, it was a collective decision to join & to stay in. The members who wanted us to pull out seemed to have learned nothing from their failure; it was their attacks on Clegg that stopped anyone listening to them………………..Parties that continually refight old battles lose………..

    It appears from some posts that those who ‘learned nothing from the history of the coalition’ are those who still believe that it was a success….
    We were constantly being told, during that period, that “being in government” would be the ‘making’ of the LibDems……
    By any yardstick that was not the result…..

  • David Evans 17th May '16 - 2:37pm

    @Julian Heather – I fear you may have forgotten the events in the days preceding the Special Conference. These were

    7 May 2010 – General election
    8 May 2010 – talks began
    11 May 2010 – Gordon Brown resigns as PM
    11 May 2010 – Parliamentary party and Federal Exec vote in favour
    12 May 2010 am – Cameron Announced as PM with Nick Clegg as DPM
    12 May 2010 – Rose Garden
    12 May 2010 – Agreement published
    16 May 2010 – Special Conference

    Was there any chance that the membership would feel able to reject the agreement without doing probably even more damage to the party than Nick managed over the following five years? I think not.

  • Clegg is not an asset, he has been the most destructive force on the party ever. The people who “just want to keep arguing the past” are the one who can’t accept that Clegg was a disaster.

    For what seems like the tenth million time, we have the line that we opposing Clegg = opposing the coalition. Yes the party signed up to the coalition agreement – it was Clegg who didn’t actually stick to it. The idea that the public are at any point in the future going to decide that Clegg and the coalition was marvellous or even sort of OK is pie in the sky. We have a very limited amount of opportunity to communicate with voters, it cannot be wasted harping on about what Nick Clegg stopped in 2012 or how the income tax threshold was increased in 2014. Refighting the lost battle of Cleggism and chasing the non-existent ‘4 cornered liberalism’ vote will just ensure there is no recovery.

  • “Going into Government was bound to lose us support from those millions of voters who had previously supported us because we were the party of protest unsullied by being in power.”

    Bound to ? really? were they going to be so unimpressed by all the good things Lib Dems were doing in Government? How come we ran Councils up and down the country in coalition and increased support ? How come we did the same in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly and the European Parliament? How come the Conservatives did so well out of the coalition if loss of support is so inevitable?

    Another thing, the people we lost, weren’t on the whole “protest voters” they were people who actually supported the party – who voted for a party that would abolish tuition fees, that would protect the less well off, who reject the Conservative economic policy, a party with ethics and principles who promised “no more broken promises” a party that would change the way we did politics, a party that would reform the media after the scandals, reform banking after the financial crisis, that would oppose nuclear power and fracking. They were the ones demanding he party says sorry by sacking Clegg.

    “Being in favour of PR meant, ipso facto, that we were also prepared to go into coalition” – no, it means we are in favour of coalitions under PR. (STV actually) But Clegg has put back the cause of coalition Government by decades. The Liberals were more popular when Thorpe was accused of attempted murder – still some people think Clegg is an asset – no, he’s a river in Egypt.

  • Nick Clegg destroyed the Lib Dems. Look at the massacres the party suffered each election that followed and the state the party finds itself in now. To call Clegg an asset is alarming. Please stop.

  • Peter Watson 17th May '16 - 5:05pm

    @paul barker “The members who wanted us to pull out seemed to have learned nothing from their failure; it was their attacks on Clegg that stopped anyone listening to them.”
    Those who throughout the coalition years predicted that by 2015 we would see the electoral recovery of the Lib Dems under Clegg and the meltdown of Labour and Conservatives appear to have “learned nothing from their failure”.
    It is also telling that those loyal to Clegg admit to having stopped listening to those who disagreed with him.
    Some Lib Dems spent five years being wrong, wilfully ignoring the evidence of every poll and every election, and dismissing those who called for a change in direction. They still do not appear to acknowledge their mistakes or want to listen to those who were proven to be correct. Indeed, the message seems to be “stop whinging and just move on” as if nothing has happened, nothing has been learned, and “move on” means continue as before.
    From the outside I see nothing yet that makes me want to return to the Lib Dems as member or a voter.

  • Matt said:

    “I am often sorely tempted to violently repudiate (the Orange Book and the Coalition). …. But trying to gag Nick Clegg would be like like Hague or Major trying to gag Ken Clarke or Thatcher”

    Fair point, up to a point. Clegg is bound to come back to haunt us, much like Heath haunted Thatcher, Blair haunted all his successors, and Banquo haunted Macbeth. We will just have to live with it.

    But what we don’t have to do – and LDV far too often does do – is to shower the spectre at the feast with extravagant praise!

  • Ruth Bright 18th May '16 - 9:26am

    But Caron NC did not just make a few mistakes he ridiculed those who were warning him about those mistakes. Those who were repelled by the health reforms, “alarm clock Britain”, PIP, the bedroom tax, building a delay of a week into the benefits’ system when people first claimed were actively mocked as people who didn’t want to win, were not serious about power, wanted to be on the sidelines – the “stop the world I want to get off” people he called them. Honest mistakes made under pressure. Fine. But mistakes like the slow car crash health “reforms” with repeated warnings from your own activists (who were ignored and sometimes mocked).
    These mistakes should not be forgotten in a mere twelve months.

  • Matt (Bristol) 18th May '16 - 9:51am

    David Allen, yes … but Thatcher did not haunt the Tory party on her own; there were people who found her a more comforting idol than their current leader, although they (at least at the start) accepted his leadership.

    I am not one of those people with regard to Nick Clegg, but I accept that such people do exist.

    What frustrates me, and I suspect you will agree with, is the fact that the party feels it cannot find a way to come out and say, ‘some of us agree with Nick … and some of us don’t. And that’s how it is, and that’s a reasonable state of affairs.’

  • Matt (Bristol) 18th May ’16 – 9:51am…….What frustrates me, and I suspect you will agree with, is the fact that the party feels it cannot find a way to come out and say, ‘some of us agree with Nick … and some of us don’t. And that’s how it is, and that’s a reasonable state of affairs.’…..

    I have yet to read an LDV article that says, “Clegg’s leadership was a complete disaster”…However, there are umpteen articles which, ‘drip by drip’, push the “He made a few mistakes” angle….
    In reality Clegg’s leadership was akin to the ‘Black Death’….We may recover (after all, that horror hastened the end of Feudalism) but please let’s stop rewriting what the reality of 5 years of election, after election, showed……

  • Matt (Bristol) 18th May '16 - 12:50pm

    Expats, My personal view is that Nick Clegg got a deal more than a few things wrong, was possibly better suited to other roles to that of Deputy Prime Minister and possibly party leader, and that watching (initially form the outside) him lead the party both in and out of government – however likeable and personable he is – was an intensely frustrating experience, and I wish a great may things had been otherwise.

    I find the argument that we had little control over what happened to us and were morally obliged to all lie down and take the cr*p honourably for the entire duration of 5 years of government, deeply suspect.

    But I have no wish to pretend that the past has not happened, and I accept I have to live in a party which contains those who are motivated and excited by Nick Clegg to a much greater degree than I am.

    What I would like to see more of on LDV is people explicitly recognising that there are people in the party who take an opposite view to them on this topic – and that to do so is not inherently wrong.

    I do not believe it is immediately possible for the entire LibDem world to leap to one, settled, unanimous verdict on Nick Clegg, and the persistent desire of everyone that it should is what’s wrong and could wreck the party.

  • Matt,

    “What frustrates me, and I suspect you will agree with, is the fact that the party feels it cannot find a way to come out and say, ‘some of us agree with Nick … and some of us don’t. And that’s how it is, and that’s a reasonable state of affairs.’…..”

    Sorry, I mostly disagree. Yes, the party has two wings. Whether it is “reasonable” for it to carry on with two wings, I rather doubt. The Labour Party has two wings, and has “heroically” sought to keep them joined together at the hip and knee for many years. To most outside observers, it is obvious that Labour’s three-legged racers are falling over, and would do better to race as two individual parties!

    There is, of course, the counter-argument that it’s better to keep the two wings together, in our party and/or in Labour, for the sake of strength (if not unity).

    But, even if you believe that, it is surely incumbent on both wings to seek to learn from political experience. When did we last hear a Cleggite say “In hindsight, there were some things that we might have done a little bit better”?

  • Matt (Bristol) 18th May '16 - 2:19pm

    David, this is off topic and I will desist: but until the right and centre-right splits at all, further splits in any centre, left or centre-left party (of which there are too many for our current system, arguably) are ceding ground to the right and centre-right which they will take, hold and deny to the left for the long term.

    Oh, how I wish it was not so.

  • Matt (Bristol) 18th May '16 - 2:27pm

    Well, I’ll stop pushing this for now, but I would contend until the right splits decisively, the emergence of even more centre and centre-left parties effectively hampers the left from taking and holding power unless new centre-left parties are able to absorb or exterminate some of the existing competition.

    …unless and until the constitutional system we have changes fundamentally.

    Parties of the left and centre-left: Sinn Feinn (NI), SDLP (NI), Alliance (NI), Plaid (Wales), SNP (Scotland), Greens (all territories), Labour (Eng, Sco, Wa), Lib Dems (Eng, Sco, Wa)

    Parties of the right and centre-right: Conservative (Eng, Sco, Wa, NI to a limited extent), UKIP (all territories but mainly Eng and Wa), UUP (NI), DUP (NI).

  • Peter Watson 18th May '16 - 3:07pm

    @Matt (Bristol) “Parties of the left and centre-left: … Lib Dems (Eng, Sco, Wa)”
    And now you’re opening up another can of worms! 😉

  • Nothing brings out the divisions in the party better than the mere mention of Nick Clegg’s name. We really should stop it. Clearly the party has in it’s ranks those who consider themselves on the left politically and those who take a more centrist view. It has been suggested by many over the years that only a realignment of all the main parties in the UK can remove the destructive infighting they endure.
    Perhaps we need a party of the right (UKIP and the Europhobic hang ’em flog ’em Tories) a party of the centre (Blairites, Clegites, nicer end of the Conservative Party – yes there are one or two worth saving !) and a pucker radical socialist party on the left.
    Even then I’m sure we would find something to fall out over !

  • Peter Watson 18th May '16 - 4:06pm

    @Chris Cory “Clearly the party has in it’s ranks those who consider themselves on the left politically and those who take a more centrist view.”
    And that can of worms is opened further …

  • Matt (Bristol) 18th May '16 - 4:15pm
  • Richard Underhill 26th May '16 - 10:50pm

    Nick Clegg will be on BBC1 tonight on “This week” at 23.45.

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