Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: “We are back in the saddle.”

Nick Clegg’s message this week is pretty chipper, name-checking some of the 350 Lib Dems (re-)elected to serve their communities this week, many of them in battleground areas. “A year or two ago even if we worked hard we didn’t win: now our message is getting a hearing again. We are back in the saddle.” His only negative words are reserved for Ukip, who he says offer a “quick fix” which would backfire: “if UKIP ever got to deliver their policies, unemployment would soar, the rich would get a massive tax cut, and we’d face swingeing cuts to our schools and hospitals”. However, their success makes the Lib Dem presence in the Coalition even more necessary, argues Nick: “it is more important than ever that we, Liberal Democrats, anchor the Government in the centre ground.” Read the full message below…

libdem letter from nick clegg

A massive thank you to everyone who worked hard in this year’s local elections. It’s been another tough year in our journey from a party of protest to a party of Government, but where it matters most, in our Parliamentary seats, we’ve stayed strong and even made gains, beating the Conservatives by 5% of the vote.

More than 350 of our colleagues won this week, including some wonderful victories from taking three seats off the Conservatives in Wiltshire to holding a local by-election in my own seat of Sheffield Hallam. Every one of those winners will work hard to help deliver the stronger economy and fairer society Britain needs.

Like Justine Baker, who I spent a day campaigning with in Somerset this week, who won the Bishops Hull & Taunton West division in Jeremy Browne’s constituency of Taunton. Like Neil Fawcett, our former Deputy Director of Campaigns, elected in Abingdon South in Oxfordshire, part of Layla Moran’s brilliant team working to win back Oxford West and Abingdon in 2015. And like Mr and Mrs Rogerson – proud parents of our MP Dan – both elected county councillors in his North Cornwall constituency.

Of course, not everyone got the result they deserved this week, and some incredibly hard working Lib Dem Councillors and campaigners have lost their seats. It’s always hard when this happens. The party owes a huge debt to those people who put themselves forward and I want to say a personal thank you to every single one of them.

Whatever the results in your area, remember this: every individual who voted Lib Dem in this election voted for a party of Government. That proves that significant numbers of people in Britain, especially in our held seats, want the Lib Dems to be a party of Government, locally and nationally, changing Britain for the better.

A year or two ago even if we worked hard we didn’t win: now our message is getting a hearing again. We are back in the saddle.

Of course, one big story of Thursday’s elections was UKIP. They pose a huge problem for the Conservatives. But whatever the other parties do, we won’t be lurching off to the right. The election result shows it is more important than ever that we, Liberal Democrats, anchor the Government in the centre ground.

Britain is going through a huge upheaval at the moment, slowly adjusting to a new economic reality, and that is painful. And they are getting no answers from the people who created these problems in the first place: the Labour party. No wonder people get frustrated and angry waiting for government to get us through the tough times. I expect we are all sometimes impatient about how long and arduous the process of economic recovery is, and wish there was a quick fix.

There isn’t. Nigel Farage and his party do not offer a solution to the problems our country faces. In fact if UKIP ever got to deliver their policies, unemployment would soar, the rich would get a massive tax cut, and we’d face swingeing cuts to our schools and hospitals.

Our country’s problems are real, but the answer is not easy promises that would have disastrous consequences. The answer is long, steady, hard work to put the public finances back in order, create jobs, help with the cost of living and invest in children and young people. Building a stronger economy in a fairer society. We are doing that painstaking work, in Government, every day, and that’s the message we need to work even harder to communicate from now on.

It isn’t easy and it isn’t always comfortable, but in the end it will change Britain for the better.

Congratulations again to everyone who worked hard in these elections. It’s only when we work hard together that our message can get through: so thank you and please keep it up.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg

PS: Do you know someone who would like to get Nick’s weekly email? Forward this message and they can sign up here: http://www.libdememails.co.uk/nick

For those Lib Dem members wanting to receive Nick and the party’s emails, Mark Pack has produced a handy guide to help ensure you’re signed up: Why did I not get that email from the Liberal Democrats?

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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33 Comments

  • Helen Dudden 5th May '13 - 9:17am

    Nick but they are being give the chance, I think something is not quite understood.

    How to reverse the situation? That will take more than just being offensive to the medial.

    Not a great time in politics for those who have let this happen.

  • We worked hard and lost by one vote trying to not blame the coalition but difficult when u get things about bedroom tax on doorstep then find out that we are not shouting about the safe guards we have but in place

  • tony dawson 5th May '13 - 10:01am

    The Lib Dems overall lost a higher percentage of our seats net on Thursday, than did the Tories, in an election fought largely where Labour were weak.. We won the highest vote vote share in those areas where we have strong local teams, presenting a strong united front on themes chosen locally. Just like last year. But we did this while being substantially filleted across most of the rest of England. Just like last year. Plus ca change?

  • If Nick and his advisors believe this (rather than it being upbeat spin) then they are heading the party for even worse results in the future.

    Our vote share was down on both the Rallings and Thresher and BBC measures from the “low point”of 2011/12 and the only reason why the headline results were “better” than previous years is because of UKIP and the vagaries of FPTP when you get multiple candidates.

  • Helen Tedcastle 5th May '13 - 10:21am

    ” We are doing that painstaking work, in Government, every day, and that’s the message we need to work even harder to communicate from now on.”

    Of course. 14% in the polls and it’s just a problem of ‘communication.’

    The strategy is working – shrinking the party in order to be in Government, staying in the mythical ‘centre ‘, when in reality it’s a battle with Labour and the ‘Cameroons’ for the centre-right – and fighting it out for who sounds the most bland.

    How inspiring.

  • Max Wilkinson 5th May '13 - 10:28am

    We have to work within the system that’s there, so we shouldn’t complain when FPTP (for once) works in our favour and against our opponents.

  • How on earth do these results suggest our message is getting a hearing again? The party leadership continues to be in complete denial mode about the failure of their ‘radical centre’ strategy to enthuse even our core vote and many in our activist base.

    From what I can see there seems to be a massive effort into shoring up Nick’s position and building a PR campaign around him as an individual, with little thought as to whether or not it is actually possible to rehabilitate him in the eyes of voters and for the long term future of the party.

    The price the Lib Dems will pay if this head-in-the-sand mentality about our prospects continues will be a very heavy one.

    Andy

  • I wonder if supporters of liberal thinking are getting nearer to our own ukip moment? It happened in Canada, with the NDP taking over the traditional Liberal Party because it was too timidly liberal… sadly, in our case, any divorce will have benn initiated by a leadership ‘elite’ which has chosen to cut itself off from the majority party. The party membership too is complicit, if only in being too supine – or alienated – to take action, and deferring way too much to the leadership.

  • “We have to work within the system that’s there, so we shouldn’t complain when FPTP (for once) works in our favour and against our opponents.”

    I don’t see anyone complaining. I think you are being warned that you have been saved from a disaster this year because in areas where you were competing with the Tories the UKIP surge split your opposition, and that there is no assurance at all that the same thing will save you in a general election.

    As for remaining ahead in your own seats, you need to be crystal clear that you are talking only about seats where the Tories were second. The result in South Shields can have left few illusions about what is likely to happen in traditional Labour areas.

  • Mark Thompson 5th May '13 - 12:28pm

    Most people are fed up with immigration. About time you respected that.

  • A Social Liberal 5th May '13 - 12:44pm

    Mr Clegg

    Why didn’t you mention Bristol, where you were the largest party until Thursday, or Cornwall where despite having many MPs you lost. You shout about Somerset but for every gain the Lib Dems made you lost a seat. Hampshire? Yes, you gained in Eastleigh but throughout the county you lost eight.

    In my opinion the only reason you did not lose more seats is because your main opponents were in the Conservatives.

  • paul barker 5th May '13 - 1:15pm

    Lets take a look at Labours position, at atime when voters are more worried about The Economy than ever, how do Labours “supporters” view them ? To set the bar helpfully low, how many of those “intending” to vote Labour “Trust” them on The Economy ? Half, thats how many . Perhaps the other half love Labour so much they are willing to pay with their jobs or perhaps they arent really planning to vote for them ?

  • Robert leslie 5th May '13 - 1:37pm

    I have been reading the comments about doing better where we have MP’s. I would remind you that 11 of our MP’s come from Scotland where our main opponents are the nat’s and labour not the tories.

  • David Wilkinson 5th May '13 - 1:52pm

    Welcome to the 3rd year of Nick Clegg’s version of Fort Zinderneuf

  • A Social Liberal – we did not gain in Eastleigh, we lost three seats to UKIP. In Winchester we lost two seats to the Tories. In these seats we are strong enough to recover, but all around the country we are losing our councillors, our activists, branches are closing, constituencies are becoming derelict, and the leadership responds by trying to spin its way out of reality.

  • Tony Dawson 5th May '13 - 3:13pm

    “It isn’t easy and it isn’t always comfortable, but in the end it will change Britain for the better.”

    Didn’t Field Marshall Haig say something similar? 🙁

    Not so much ‘in the saddle’ as ‘saddled with’.

  • Helen Dudden 5th May '13 - 5:53pm

    I know someone who did not vote locally, because they felt it was a waste of time.

    There are many of us now who feel, who shall we vote for now? This coalition should feel so proud of it’s efforts to make these changes.

    I voted for Don Foster MP and campaigned for him to take over from the Conservative Chris Patten. Don Foster votes as much as he can, for the Conservatives in government. Nothing else you can add. I dread to see the result of the election next year and in 2015. Perhaps is wiser to hedge your bets and vote………

    The Conservatives and the Lib Dems have got rid of the logic in politics, is UKIP better that the Labour Party?

  • David Evans 5th May '13 - 7:33pm

    It’s another electoral disaster Nick. It really is time for you to go.

  • Grace Goodlad 5th May '13 - 7:52pm

    I usually find the Stalinesque letters from the Leader (Dear Leader, surely), to veer from the trite, to the irrelevant. This week’s is, quite frankly an insult. The Westminster bubble name checks, the naive comments re UKIP, the total lack of comprehension that the policies he and his ginger hench rodent are signing up to against the membership’s consent have cost us dear.

    Whoever writes these has got their messaging so far off kilter that they need to go and use both hands to see if they can tell their elbow from another body part.

  • @David Wilkinson — I thought it was more like the siege of Mafeking — but no relief in sight — or maybe more like Cawnpore.

  • Helen Dudden 5th May '13 - 8:32pm

    Tonight on Europe, I think what a mess. But ,then what a mess here.

    There is even talk of UKIP going in with the Conservatives, not a long lasting marriage was it?

    I feel very sad for this country and what it is being turned into. As the comments were , no one listened.

    This could be true of quite few of our Ministers and MP’s.

  • andrew purches 6th May '13 - 10:21am

    There is one statistic that seems to have been ignored or just overlooked : Labour picked up 14 seats from the Lib Dems in that most conservative of blue blooded counties, Northumberland, making Labour the largest Party,though without overall control. If this can happen there, then the future for the Lib Dem’s is very bleak, and come 2015 with a probable disaster of a Euro election for our Party behind it, we can assume,I think, a runaway sweep for Labour. Centre ground ? -that has been lost. It will be right or left whatever Nick Clegg and the party leadership might hope for.

  • David Wilkinson 6th May '13 - 10:43am

    Local elections in 2014 same day as the European elections, could be a bit of problem?
    Local elections in 2015 same day as the general election, could be even more of problem?

    I do hope all Lib Dem members take the time to reply to Nick, sometimes you get a nice reply back.

  • “Local elections in 2014 same day as the European elections, could be a bit of problem?
    Local elections in 2015 same day as the general election, could be even more of problem?”

    Obviously the threat is not only the possibility that the parliamentary party will be decimated in 2015, but the certain knowledge that – after severe losses in the last three of the four years of the local electoral cycle – much of the local government base that has been laboriously built up over the last few decades has been lost. And the prospect of even worse losses in the European elections.

    A remarkable achievement in a single parliamentary term.

  • A word of thanks to those who have stood down this year after many years of service in Local Government representing the Lib Dems would not have gone amiss.

    We are NOT ‘back in the saddle’. It will take a long time after the past years.

  • Helen Dudden 6th May '13 - 3:28pm

    I think the statement “back in saddle” shows, just out of touch Nick Clegg is with the country.

    If we are forced out of the EU by these politics ,then it will be a sad day.

    Graham Watson MEP, has done much, and I still respect him, and Sarah Ludford MEP for their work in the EU.

    Nick Clegg was supposed to be for the EU, and a peaceful Europe.

    I still wait to hear what the MP for Bath, Don Foster has to say, very little I expect. He too has become an unheard voice on the more important subjects. Conservatives Don? or are you still with the Lib Dems?

  • paul barker 6th May '13 - 3:58pm

    Parties in Goverment get clobbered in Local & European Elections & usually in Byelections too. Its happened to Labour & The Tories in the past, often to our benefit. Now, at last its happening to us too & the same people keep popping up on comments whining about it & demanding Cleggs resignation. If you “beleive” The Polls then Clegg is more popular than his Party, just like Cameron, odd eh?
    Local Elections are a very poor indication of results at Westminster, the voters are being asked different questions & they give different answers. Labour is rudderless, divided & trapped in the past, they will llucky even to do as well as in 2010.

  • “If you “beleive” The Polls then Clegg is more popular than his Party, just like Cameron, odd eh?”

    I don’t think that’s correct. Please can you quote the polls you are thinking of?

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th May '13 - 10:52pm

    Nick Clegg

    Whatever the results in your area, remember this: every individual who voted Lib Dem in this election voted for a party of Government. That proves that significant numbers of people in Britain, especially in our held seats, want the Lib Dems to be a party of Government, locally and nationally, changing Britain for the better.

    That is plain wrong. What evidence does Nick Clegg have that people who voted for the Liberal Democrats candidate in their county council election did so in order to say they supported the Liberal Democrats being in the coalition rather than did so in spite of that, did so because they like their local Liberal Democrat candidate strongly enough to vote for him or her even though they are very much opposed to what the Liberal Democrats are doing in national government? From my unscientific survey of people who voted Liberal Democrat in the county council elections (friends and family in my home county of Sussex) EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM IS OPPOSED to the Liberal Democrats being “in government”, and voted solely on local issues. Nick Clegg is deeply insulting these people to claim as he does here that their vote for their local Liberal Democrat candidate is a vote of support for him and his tactics.

    This continuation of boasts about the Liberal Democrats being “in government” or “a party of government” is hugely damaging us. Clegg’s claim that people are indicating their support for it by voting Liberal Democrat in local elections is nonsensical, because if it were bringing us extra support we would have seen our vote go up in these elections, instead of going down. A close glance at individual results shows clearly that we have done best where we have a very string local campaign, strong enough to keep people’s focus on that rather than what is happening with the party nationally. Where we have no strong local campaign, so that people voting for the Liberal Democrats really are doing so primarily on what they see of the party nationally, our vote has crashed. For the REAL judgment on Nick Clegg, look at our share of the vote in all those places where we did little or no work, ran token campaigns, relied for any vote we got on what people though of the party based on its national image.

    We are being damaged by this because, as I have said since the coalition was formed, we are NOT “in government” as the phrase is conventionally understood, meaning in charge of directing national government policy. We are a small part of a coalition, where much the larger part, and so the part directing the general thrust of this government is the Conservative Party. So boasting about being “a party of government” makes it looks as if we are fully endorsing the policies of this government, which are primarily Conservative ones, rather than just in a position to modify them a little. Making it look as if we are fully endorsing them gives ammunition to those who attack us for having abandoned our own policies and taken up Conservative ones. All this childish “look mum, aren’t I a big boy now, I’m ‘in government'” boasting is seen by voters as an indication that all our party really wanted was jobs for Mr Clegg and a few of his cronies, that we would say whatever we thought would get us them without really meaning it sincerely, so we’re happy to throw it all away so long as we have “power”. So we are being accused of being just like “all the other politicians”, only in it for ourselves, telling “lies” because we never really had any political principles.

    I know we are not like that, and to this day I am defending the formation of the coalition, accepting that the balance of Parliament meant it was the best choice out of several bad options, that it has given us a modest influence, stopping the worst of the Tories at the cost of having to accept a lot from them that we don’t really like. But Clegg’s “party of government” boasting is undermining me in that, it is making me look like the fool, it is supporting what my opponents are throwing at me as an argument against what I am trying to say to defend our party.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th May '13 - 10:59pm

    paul barker

    Parties in Goverment get clobbered in Local & European Elections & usually in Byelections too

    But we are NOT “in government” as that term is conventionally understood. We are NOT directing this government’s policies, it is a five-sixths Conservative government pushing policies which are five-sixths Conservative. So why should we “get clobbered” for policies which are NOT what we would be pushing if this were a completely Liberal Democrat government? Why does our leader keep using language which leads to us being clobbered for this, when it would be much better for us if he were to be honest and tell us the reality – this is a government over which we have only a small influence, all we can do is push a few ideas at the margins, and swing the balance away from right-wing extremism when it is a close balance within the Conservative Party itself, so our one-sixth of the government can make a difference?

  • A Social Liberal 7th May '13 - 12:10am

    Tony Hill

    Thanks for the information about Eastleigh. When I wrote about Eastleigh I was using the information Mr Clegg imparted in the forum below this one. Most of my information came from the BBC website, and so I was unable to find out about gains and losses in individual wards.

  • Helen Dudden 7th May '13 - 9:37am

    There are important issues with change in the EU. At present a report being completed by all countries on family law, a way to improve on access situations.

    Nick Clegg, should understand that simply stating we, will not look at all good if, we come out of the EU is only a minor part of the issues involved.

    As I stated before, Graham Watson MEP or Sir Graham, has done much for those living in the membership. Still more needs to be done, this knee jerk reaction is showing just how unstable the government is at Westminster.

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