Danny Alexander MP writes… “We have a different, radical message about the change our country needs”

Yesterday Nick launched ‘A Fresh Start for Britain’ – a document which outlines the values upon which our manifesto for the next General Election will be based. You may have seen some of the media coverage; I hope you have also visited Nick’s new site on it – www.freshstart.nickclegg.com.

This document is the first part of a two-part paper which we will be taking to Autumn conference. It promotes a vision that was agreed by both the Federal Policy Committee and the parliamentary party; which shows how our party would do things differently from Labour and Tories. The second explains in more detail our existing policy portfolio.

The next election is our opportunity to show the British people we have a different, radical message about the change our country needs. The two old parties don’t really want to change a political system that keeps them in power or challenge the bankers who got the economy into such a terrible mess.

‘A Fresh Start for Britain’ explains how our values – the basis upon which we will reach our choices on what should be in our manifesto – are fundamentally different from those of the Conservative and Labour parties. In the unprecedented economic situation that the country faces, only the Liberal Democrats are clear that the choices we make will be driven by a clear set of values and principles.

This policy paper does not prejudge what those choices might be, but it does emphasise the uncertain and difficult economic context against which these choices will be made and the real constraints that will place on our own manifesto when it is drawn up next year. It makes clear that we will treat the British people like grown ups; we will be honest about the tough choices ahead – both for the country and for ourselves.

This policy paper, which is going to conference in the place of a more traditional pre-manifesto, highlights three key priorities – a sustainable economy, a fair society, clean politics – that will drive the choices that we will make when we come to draw up our manifesto. Each of these is illustrated by two policy examples that form a key part of our current narrative.

They are: building a sustainable economy by putting Britain back to work in green jobs, and radical reform of the banking system; building a fairer society by reforming the tax system and giving every child the very best start in life; and building a new politics by cleaning up Westminster and delivering fair votes. Of course, there is no division between “safe” or “at risk” policies – all our policies are important. We will be making the decisions about what we can and cannot afford to include in our manifesto together, as a party, through our democratic processes.

As Nick has been consistently explaining in the media these are indications of our values and principles – not limitations on them. This paper as a whole serves as a guide for the basis upon which further policy choices will be made, not the detail of what those choices might be.

The Manifesto Group and the Federal Policy Committee worked hard together to produce in ‘A Fresh Start for Britain’, an exciting paper which articulates simply and clearly the foundations upon which our manifesto will be built. I hope it will get the support of delegates at conference and provide a strong foundation for our campaigning in the run up to the election.

* Danny Alexander MP is Vice Chair of the Federal Policy Committee and Chair of the Manifesto Working Group.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters.


  • Stanley Theed 23rd Jul '09 - 5:06pm

    Conference approved a number of policies which will need to be revisited in the light of the current reduced economic circumstances. The party would have to do this if we were in government. We should not ‘ditch’ any policy without careful consideration, but I believe that the country at large is in a mood not to be patronised but given honesty from their politicians. Any party that can convince the electorate that they will offer honest and fair government will do well in the next election. That’s the challenge.

  • I can’t read this paper as anything other than setting some very vague parameters which basically give the leader a blank cheque to decide what he wants.

    Given that we have seen the leader ditch two democratically decided policies, and over the involvement of FPC and the constitutional decision making processes (at least as I read Linda Jacks comments) there must be real question marks about whether conference should endorse such broad powers.

  • Liberal Neil 24th Jul '09 - 10:11am

    We HAVE NOT ‘ditched’, ‘jetisoned’ or ‘despatched’ any policies.

    The full document was agreed by FPC following many, many hours of discussion.

    What the document says is that, in reality, we won’t be in a position to commit to fund all our existing commitments immediately, sonething that everyone knows.

  • Chris Squire try http://www.freshstart.nickclegg.com/

    I haven’t had time to read the full document yet but understand what it is trying to do.

    I have a big concern over how it has been spun allowing the media to say Clegg is going to ditch tuition fees and free care for the elderly

    For me the problem is that the document includes two examples for each of the 3 sections. By doing that it raises them above other policies. It would of been far better to not have examples at all, just three chapters containing all the relevant policies in there so none will look more important than others. With a caveat about cost and a commitment to put them into practice over a five year period of government.

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