Letter from the Leader: It won’t be easy

libdem letter from nick clegg

 

This week, Nick emphasises that despite all the fuss in the media, the Government is getting its head down and delivering good things. He points out that although things like Europe and equal marriage dominate the newspapers, they take up a relatively small part of parliamentary time. He also says that he thinks coalitions will become more frequent as people’s dissatisfaction with “the old two party politics deepens.” Over to Nick

“It won’t be easy: there will be bumps and scrapes along the way.”

That’s what I said three years ago, in the joint press conference David Cameron and I gave on the first day of this coalition government. And as you’ll have noticed, some weeks are more bumpy and scrapy than others!

Some times we have fierce disagreements that leave people on both sides deeply frustrated. But given that this coalition is formed of two political parties with many widely differing beliefs and policies, that’s not exactly remarkable.

What I believe is remarkable is the resilience of this government, and the amount – bumps and scrapes notwithstanding – that we have achieved so far. We’ve shown that when it comes down to the real business of government, like creating jobs, balancing the budget and helping with the cost of living, we can act like grown ups and get things done.

From enabling people to earn a full £10,000 before they start paying income tax to helping create over a million new jobs, from investing billions in our schools to expanding apprenticeships on an unprecedented scale, this government has a record to be proud of.

Next week, Parliament is back in session, ready to start in earnest on this year’s legislative agenda. Some critics have written it off already, accusing the government of paralysis. It’s simply not true.

Yes: we have a few tense votes coming up on Europe and Equal Marriage. These are important and, for some, divisive issues. But though they may dominate the news for weeks, they will take up just a few hours or days of Parliamentary time. MPs and Peers will spend the vast majority of their year implementing big social and economic changes on which the coalition remains firmly united – changes that will make Britain stronger and fairer.

A high speed rail network. Fairer pensions. A cap on the costs of care for disabled and elderly people. Improved consumer rights and better protection for energy customers.

This is the major business of this government because our focus remains what it has been from day one: the economic and social repair job we know Britain needs, and which we set out in our coalition agreement. I won’t let the coalition be pulled off that course.

This government is the first peacetime coalition in Britain in 80 years. But the wait will not be so long again: I believe coalitions will become more and more frequent as people’s dissatisfaction with the old two-party politics deepens. Political parties of left and right are going to have to get used to not getting their own way all the time, putting aside their differences and working together in the national interest.

The bumps and scrapes will continue. But the achievements will, too, as this government works steadily on, building  a stronger economy and a fairer society.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg

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

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3 Comments

  • How about the bedroom tax and the increase of 8 hours to qualify for family tax credit hitting the very poorest?!!!

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Jun '13 - 3:46pm


    This government is the first peacetime coalition in Britain in 80 years. But the wait will not be so long again: I believe coalitions will become more and more frequent as people’s dissatisfaction with the old two-party politics deepens.

    People seem to see the current coalition as the Liberal Democrats giving up what they used to be all about and instead becoming Conservatives, or perhaps secretly being Conservatives all along, or not really being anything just saying whatever they thought might get them votes and hence comfy government jobs.

    I think a lot of this criticism is unfair – those saying these sort of things do not seem to be able to appreciate how a party with 57 MPs cannot convert a party with 306 MPs to its point of view, and they do not seem to appreciate that the logical consequences of their argument that coalitions are all wrong because “no-one voted for it” is that we should have a government of whatever party got the most votes i.e. right now pure Tory. Somehow they seem to suppose that if there were no LibDems we would now have a cuddly social democratic government in place, quite how, they don’t explain …

    However, the way Clegg has played the coalition since it was formed has played into the hands of these people, contrary to his claims it has been as bad an advert for the principle of coalition as could be. Clegg has given the impression that a coalition means almost a merger, and means even if you are a small part of it you have to act as if you agree 100% with all it does. He has done nothing to press the case for electoral reform, to point out that if the parties in the coalition were represented in Parliament proportionately to their votes we would have a coalition which was MUCH more Liberal Democrat and much less Tory than the one we have now. He has done nothing to make clear that the coalition was a “miserable little compromise”, something our party had to agree to though it was far from our ideal, because there was no other viable government possible from the 2010 Parliament. Our ideal would surely be a majority Liberal Democrat government, failing that a coalition in which the Liberal Democrats were the major party, and failing that one which was two-fifths LibDem and three-fifths Conservative as the vote share was, rather than one-sixth LibDem and five-sixths Conservative as the seats share was.

    What people are seeing, due to Clegg’s failure to put the LibDem case, is that a coalition means the continuation of the two-party system with the third party becoming absorbed into whichever of the two parties it coalesces with. Our party is suffering from a massive rejection thanks to that. As a result, people who are dissatisfied with the two-party system aren’t going for the idea of moderate third parties and electoral reform, instead they’re going for the UKIP fruitcakes, or despairing of the very idea of democracy, which has potentially very worrying consequences.

  • Nigel Jones 10th Jun '13 - 9:58pm

    In the hope that some people will see this at this late stage, I must say that Matthew Huntbach has put the situation very well indeed. Nick has not made it clear to the public. He said at the last conference that we have not lost our identity, whereas the public think we have.

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