LibLink … Nick Clegg: Don’t waste our time… bring forward real reform

In today’s Independent, Nick Clegg makes a bold pitch – that Parliament should use the few months it has left before the election to try and actually achieve something to solve the big political issue of the year: restoring the public’s trust in Parliament. Here’s an excerpt:

On Wednesday, all the pomp and ceremony that Parliament can muster will be rolled out for the Queen’s Speech, setting out the Government’s list of new laws for the coming year. But the glitz and glamour will be based on a complete fiction. Parliament will find it difficult to pass any of the bills promised in the Queen’s Speech this year – there are just 70 sitting days left before it is dissolved for the general election, too little time to debate and approve the Government’s latest legislative shopping list. The current average time taken for laws to make it from first reading to royal assent is 240 days. Gordon Brown’s Government is running out of time.

The one gift this failed Parliament can give its successor is a fresh start. When you move out of a house, you clean it for the people moving in. Seventy days may not be long, but it is long enough, with strong political will, to clean up politics once and for all. We need an action plan to save Britain’s democracy in time for the next general election so that the new parliament commands full support.

Good stuff from Nick, and from our press team for spotting the opportunity for the Lib Dems to grab the headlines. Not only is it a good point that this year’s Queen’s Speech is an artificial one, but it is also true that some things of genuine – and liberal – merit could be achieved in the time remaining if Labour had the ambition.

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  • Herbert Brown 16th Nov '09 - 11:34am

    “Seventy days may not be long, but it is long enough, with strong political will, to clean up politics once and for all.”

    All so much hollow claptrap if the party can’t bring itself to issue the mildest reprimand to the peer on its own benches who has fraudelently claimed £140,000 of public money.

  • Herbert Brown: that statement doesn’t really make sense. Either you believe in reforming the law or you don’t. The degree to which a party engages in self-flagellation after the fact doesn’t come into it, except for those who are looking for an excuse to attack the party, which seems to be your purpose on this site.

  • Herbert Brown 16th Nov '09 - 12:34pm


    If you really can’t see how hypocritical it is for Clegg to keep on and on about how other people should do more to “clean up politics”, while doing absolutely nothing himself about offenders in his own party, I’m not sure I can help you.

    Do you really not think the party should at least reprimand one of its own parliamentarians who has lied in order to claim £140,000 of public money?

  • A pointless suggestion from Clegg… suggesting something like cancelling the Queen’s speech only discredits the Lib Dems, and highlights how they can suggest things safe in the knowledge that they won’t form a government. See here:

  • Jessica Ashman 16th Nov '09 - 1:13pm

    Not impressed with the disrespect Mr. Clegg shows to our Queen and British law and tradition just because he believe his views are more important. I cannot believe the arrogance of the man, why should he dictate the business of parliament when he does not have the mandate to do so?

  • Bill le Breton 16th Nov '09 - 1:45pm

    Calling for the Queen’s Speech to be scrapped is an ill-considered gimmick. If it’s a communications led initiative, it makes it even more negligent.

    Fag-end session or not, legislation will be passed in the next six months even if much of it is achieved in a couple of days before Parliament is prorogued. That’s what happens. We shall also have a Finance Bill.

    Some of these measures (perhaps the majority) we shall have valued and supported both in the Parliamentary Party and up and down the country – especially as the Budget will give substance to a Pre Budget Announcement which in the next few weeks will contain plenty of demand stimulating, service enhancing goodies.

    But this ‘clever ruse’, will allow our opponents to say we opposed those measures and initiatives (by opposing having a Queens Speech this November) and to say repeat this again and again over the next 26 weeks in campaigns up and down the country wherever we are a threat. That is how politics is played.

    If you don’t believe me, just have a look at this from Hansard/PMQs last week and how that ill-conceived ‘savage cuts’ press release is being thrown back at us, undermining our ability to challenge the Government.
    “Mr. Clegg: That response beggars belief—they are the Prime Minister’s figures. How would he feel if he was on £80 a week and the Government came along and said, “We’re going to take £15 of that away”? This is going to hit up to 300,000 of the poorest people in this country and it will not save the Treasury any money. It took him months to do the right thing—the U-turn—on the 10p tax rate fiasco. Will he now look at this measure, stop it, and stop it now? Will he do that—yes or no?
    “The Prime Minister: This is the man who talked about savage cuts in public services.”

    This is the schoolboy politics of ‘jolly good wheezes’. The naivety is breath-taking. The damage incalculable.

  • “Fag-end session or not, legislation will be passed in the next six months even if much of it is achieved in a couple of days before Parliament is prorogued.”

    Sounds like a good reason to oppose such legislation as it will be rushed and not subjected to adequate scrutiny.

    Clegg isn’t saying that we should have no legislation – just that the focus should be different.

  • Bill le Breton 16th Nov '09 - 2:28pm

    My guess is that there may well be a number of initiatives that we shall want to support, but that is not really my point. This gimmick opens us up unnecessarily to lines of attack from our opponents.

    As you know it doesn’t matter what Clegg has actually said/called for. It is what can be made to stick that counts.
    Here’s Labour’s openner in the Independent piece:
    “Mr Clegg’s suggestion was greeted with scorn last night by Downing Street sources. They said: “The Queen’s Speech this week will set out the Government’s priorities for the remainder of the parliamentary session. But we are very clear these priorities are also the people’s priorities and (if) the Liberal Democrats and other parties will support them, there will be absolutely no problems getting them through.”

    We could have published our own Queen’s Speech. Not original but still campaignable. This stunt now precludes that, unless we want to be mocked for standing on our heads. We could publish and campaign for our own Reform Bill and in true Chartist fashion start getting six million signatures. etc etc.

    But what we have here, again, is a lack in confidence in our ability to make our voice heard and a feeling that we need to shock in order to gain brief attention. It is this attempt to shock that leads us to make mistakes and block off future avenues because we have to ‘played through’ the consequences before pressing the start button.

  • Malcolm Todd 16th Nov '09 - 2:31pm

    Not for the first time with Clegg, he’s managing to say something quite sensible while sounding like he’s being a twit.

    Mostly I’m annoyed at the obvious nonsense of comparing the “70 sitting days” left with the alleged “240 days” that it takes to get a bill into law. It’s obviously not 240 sitting days as there aren’t that many in a year, so the comparison is dorrocks. But that’s pretty much normal politics, isn’t it?

  • Clegg didn’t say that the Queen’s speech should be canceled but that the planned one which is ‘little more than a rehearsal of the next Labour Party manifesto, an attempt to road-test policy gimmicks that might save this Government’s skin’ should be in canceled in ‘favour of an emergency programme of reform.’ I.e. that the content of the speech and therefore legislative programme for the next parliamentary term should be changed to something that is actually achievable and important.

  • Herbert Brown 16th Nov '09 - 11:14pm


    Well, is it “achievable” that the party should express any kind of disapproval whatsoever of one of its own parliamentarians who has defrauded the state of £140,000 by lying about his circumstances?

    If Nick Clegg can’t manage to do that much, should he really be lecturing others about what they should be doing to “clean up politics”?

    I’m still looking for any sign that the Lib Dem members/activists who post here are the slightest bit concerned about this atrocious behaviour. I know that the ones I used to be in contact with would have been absolutely appalled by it. Has the party changed so much?

  • Bill le Breton 17th Nov '09 - 9:31am

    Peter 1919,

    That’s a real mouth full to put in a FOCUS or explain in a radio interview when an opponent is accusing you of NOT SUPPORTING measures to “tackle knife crime, improve social care for the elderly, trim bankers’ bonuses and boost parents’ and patients’ rights.” (expected features of the Queen’s Speech.) Or £2 billion extra for schools, employment and housing initiatives – expected to be announced in the PBA. It won’t be fair, but …

One Trackback

  • By LibLink … CK answers Indy readers’ questions on Mon 16th November 2009 at 7:26 pm.

    […] a Lib Dem-tastic edition of today’s Independent – in addition to Nick Clegg’s article calling for the Queen’s Speech to be cancelled so that Parliament can focus on the big issue […]

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