LibLink: Nick Clegg – Why it’s time for families to come first

Over at the Daily Mail, Lib Dem leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg writes of the ways in which the coalition government will support families to try and ensure children get the best possible start in life. Here’s an excerpt:

Obsessed with micromanaging daily life from the centre, the last government forgot what families really need. They never understood that it isn’t just parents who raise a child – it’s the whole family, the whole street, the whole neighbourhood. Why they wanted to vet anyone working with children – including parents taking it in turns to collect each others children from school sports matches. This week we have halted those plans. Of course we need to keep our children safe, but we also have to keep a sense of proportion too. And we need to get out of the habit of making families ever more dependent on the state. …

… today we are announcing a new Childhood and Families Task Force composed of senior ministers, chaired by the Prime Minister, to take action to remove some of the biggest hurdles that millions of families face every day. One of those is giving young people places to go and children safe spaces to play. That’s the only way to get kids off street corners. Children need spaces to play and we should be giving local communities more power to create them. And families with disabled children need extra help, so let’s provide them with the respite care that can make a world of difference.

You can read Nick’s article in full here.

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15 Comments

  • Andrew Suffield 17th Jun '10 - 1:49pm

    I think it’s more precise to say:

    While advertising could be done in a way that was not harmful, current advertising practices are very deliberate and carefully crafted attempts to cause harm for profit.

    It will be very hard to do anything about this, due to the subtle pervasiveness of the advertising industry’s power. They can and will control most of the UK media in order to defend their profits. This power is rarely used but very direct when it is: anybody who says anything that goes against their agenda gets fired on the spot. This is normally only used against people who criticise advertised products, but I don’t expect them to hold back from using it to block government attempts to regulate or ban advertising.

  • Grammar Police 17th Jun '10 - 1:55pm

    I was pleased to see a reference to raising the personal allowance!

  • “Children need spaces to play”, says Mr Clegg.

    Polls of parents show one of their biggest concerns is speeding traffic and hence children are kept indoors where it’s safe. The coalition government’s response? They’ve cut road safety grants to local authorities!

  • So why has Danny Alexander scrapped free swims for under 16s? This will hit the poorest families the hardest. A small cut in the grand scheme of things but think, who will lose out the most?

  • Patrick Smith 18th Jun '10 - 6:51am

    This is a tour de force statement of intent by the Deputy PM, to help all children brought up by the 4 million least off families.

    The abolition of the Child Trust Fund is part of the `Coalition Agreement’ and a positive step to reduce child poverty as it must be tackled and eradicated now and not in 18 years time.

    I advocate agreement to ending the universality of child benefit and for Government to stop paying it to the better off parents who have never and do not need it or rely on to bring up their children.

    At present, all families, regardless of their income statutus share a common entitlement, to claim child benefit, including both the PM and DPM.Is this fair to the improvement of life chances for poorer children?

    What about increasing child benefit to the lowest earners besides the planned introduction of the new income tax threshold?

    The recognition of grandparents will greatly assist many families.

    Many young parents have parents themselves with plenty of practical caring child rearing skills, who share much with their grand-children`s prospects and development. A good move.

  • We are not all in this together – progressive tax rises are the best solution to the deficit but we will see cuts that create high unemployment devastating family life and regressive taxes (increase in VAT?).

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Jun '10 - 11:42am

    The Daily Mail’s line is that the government should get out of our lives and stop taxing and legislating and also be active in stopping all problems by doing things which cost money and require legislation. You can be pretty sure should any kids get abused by a parent who’s part of a car-sharing arrangement, the Mail will run a “why oh why” article about how there should have been checks to have stopped it from happening. You can be absolutely sure that the Mail will never run a “why oh why” article where it answers the question with “because the likes of us would have moaned about it as bureaucracy and/or political correctness gone mad”.

  • Andrew Suffield 18th Jun '10 - 5:55pm

    The Daily Mail’s line

    Anything you read in the Mail is probably not true. They engage in deliberate spin and deception in every story. People really need to stop taking them seriously.

  • How touching.

    Pity he decided to fight for David Camerons scraps and participate in cuts and increases which will effect the already poorest families in the UK. How he can have the audacity to talk about safe areas and respite care when he’s cutting public services is beyond me.
    Clegg has shown his true blue colours and has in my opinion no idea how the average person manages or feels. They complain about a jobs tax labour had planned (which would have been a few pence for each person) while hiking up VAT costs which will hit the poor hard and struggling sales even harder. Every decision this pair of clowns make only cuts another job and puts another person into poverty and fear. Ironically he tells people not to be dependant on the state, while cutting jobs and putting people ON benefits.
    Childrens ministers? All he has to do is invite one of the several children’s charities to become involved in implementing ideas to keep kids off the streets FOR FREE. We spend our days making money and asking for their help which is refused repeatedly. They also have the jobcentre harassing children’s volunteers into finding paid work – WHEN THERE ARE NONE. So Nick what is it to be? Family man as you would like us to perceive you, or cold, calculated, greedy rich kid only interested in filling the back pockets of those with no room to fit any more in?

    Roll on the Scottish Bi-Elections so we can get the lot of the tories and lib dems out. (Never thought I’d say it)

  • This article is at best confusing, at worst alarming. Reads as if it was written by Dave’s people, given its frankly vacuous nature. Apart from trumpeting Cameron’s Big Society and his emphasis on ‘families’, what’s he actually said? That advertising for kids is bad…Ok, er, yeees…is that it? Hardly the stuff of government in the midst of the most calamitous crisis in living memory.

    Ian’s point about axing free swimming while advocating more play spaces is also disconcerting – a staggeringly clumsy move. Where’s the joint-up-thinking? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a staunch defender, even a champion, of the notion of coalition government but this article is a thoroughly true-blue piece of rhetoric. How are you squaring this Nick?

    I don’t like the smell of this, I don’t like it at all. Why did ‘someone’ place an article by Nick Clegg, spinning Tory policy, in the Daily Mail, on the eve of the emergency budget? It sure didn’t appear there all by itself and, right now, Nick could have the front page in any rag of his choosing. So, unless he wants to show off various Tory credentials he might be adopting, search me?

    I’ve joined the Social Liberals, http://socialliberal.net/ because I really think we need to keep a very firm grip on the tail of this tiger as we head ever further into the storm.

  • Paul McKeown 20th Jun '10 - 3:29pm

    @Kirsten

    I agree with you that the article was content free positioning, and it must be said that I would place myself towards the Orange Book end of Lib Dem political opinion. What I would also say though, is that the best policy for Lib Dems during this parliament is:
    a) to note every single Lib Dem policy implemented and to make sure these are recalled at every electoral opportunity
    b) to note every single Conservative policy dropped, or made more egalitarian or commonsense and to make sure these are recalled at every electoral opportunity
    c) to work with redoubled endeavour at the local, constituency and devolved parliament and assembly level to put across our message and help our people and to make sure that every success booked is recalled at every electoral opportunity
    d) to ensure that our MPs (guided by our councillors, AMs and MSPs) use all the levers provided to them by their share government in helping our constituents and to make sure that every success booked is recalled at every electoral opportunity
    e) to argue forcefully behind closed doors for the needs of the weakest in our society
    f) to strictly ration the number of times our backbenchers rebel against the government whip. Backbenchers that become serial rebels will simply lose all credibility, whereas those that keep their powder dry longest will achieve the most forceful results when they do eventually load either or both barrels. They should be ever mindful of the maxim, “The threat is stronger than the execution.”
    g) everyone needs to understand that we are in this until the end of this parliamentary term in May 2015, for good or ill.
    h) everyone needs to understand that the judgement of the electors will be based on what we achieve in government in terms of economic recovery and how the most vulnerable in our society have been treated. In other words, will we have proved our competence, and will we have demonstrated that when we speak of “fairness” we do actually mean it.
    i) our ministers must understand that will be judged every time they speak on whether what they say is clear, believable and based in core Liberal Democratic values. Their credibility will be judged every time they respond to a question by how well they command their briefs. Our backbench MPs will be judged on how well they keep our ministers on message; inevitably that work will take place, for the most part, in private.
    j) MPs briefing secretly against the government must understand that they undermine themselves as much as they undermine the government. They make themselves less plausible as advocates for different or modified policies within government, simply because they will be less trusted and less likely to be rewarded.
    k) members and activists must understand that the Liberal Democratic party is truly democratic. The triple lock provides a very powerful mandate for the party in government; in many ways Nick Clegg has a much clearer mandate from his party than David Cameron has from the Conservative Party. Equally, though, the triple lock provides a powerful tool to keep our party on message within government, too. It is a very powerful tool, which must never be used to force the leadership into a cul de sac, from which only electoral massacre can result, but it can nevertheless be used to ensure that the leadership never forgets Liberal Democratic core values either.

  • Jane Elwood 20th Jun '10 - 3:57pm

    @paulmckeown

    That was one of the most cynical posts I’ve read regarding this coalition – and possibly one of the most accurate.

    Depressing though. While your suggestions are pragmatic and effective they depend on the will to discard principles in return for power. It’s an risky strategy that could leave us with neither

  • Paul McKeown 20th Jun '10 - 4:48pm

    @Jane Elwood

    I didn’t intend cynical effect. I was arguing that Liberal Democrats should use the instrument of government most forcefully to implement our policies; inevitably there will be compromises, we should be mindful of these, but not precious. The least effective way to ensure our policies are implemented or our views are respected is to appear semi-detached. And we will achieve absolutely nothing at all, commonly known as sweet FA, if we aren’t in government. That must be a lesson that the past century has taught Liberals.

    The other point I was making is that we should be aware that Labour will attempt to tar us with the Tory brush. Let them. We must be clear what our impact in government has been: this is how we will defuse that argument. Continually wringing our hands in public will just make it appear that Labour is right, when mainfestly the coalition document gives us many reasons to be proud.

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