Nick Clegg meets … Showing the Lib Dem fight against the Tories is alive and well

In just over an hour’s time, at 2pm, the Lib Dem leader is holding the first of his ‘Nick Clegg meets …’ open question-and-answer sessions outside of his own constituency. This isn’t a party event: this is a chance for voters to question the Deputy Prime Minister, and will be broadcast live on TV.

It’s being billed as follows:

An opportunity to ask the Deputy Prime Minister anything you like…
– What will the coalition government’s programme mean for me?
– How will the current spending review impact Abingdon ?
– What are the DPM’s plans to change politics?

But just as significant is the location: Abingdon, part of the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency – which Lib Dems will need little reminding was the scene of Evan Harris’s cruelly narrow general election defeat to the Tories’ right-wing Nicola Blackwood. Depending on the result of next May’s alternative vote referendum and the boundary review, it will be a top, top target for the Lib Dems in the 2015 general election.

It is no coincidence that Nick’s first major Deputy PM’s Q&A is taking place in a Lib Dem-Tory marginal: it’s a clear signal to the party that, however closely we might work with the Tories in government, we will be continuing to campaign against them in the country.

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46 Comments

  • David Warner 24th Jul '10 - 1:12pm

    Where on TV is the question time being shown, does anybody know?

  • Well, Cameron streams all his ‘PM direct’ sessions on the Downing Street website – so I sincerely hope that the Deputy PM’s ‘townhall meetings’ will also be available on the web.

    Are there any plans for doing that? It would definitely be interesting to hear what he has to say.

  • I must say, the Lib Dem spin machine is certainly upping it’s game.

    To the party machine, Clegg speaking in a Tory/Lib Dem marginal is a sign of party independence + a willingness to campaign against the Tories is it?

    Interesting.

    What will it mean when Tories are invited to speak at our Autumn Conference then Stephen? That the LDs are going to war with the Tory menace policy-by-policy?

    This post doesn’t make sense.

    If this a truly independent blog you must up your game and begin to challenge Clegg’s thinking. If you don’t, we may as well all get used to two party politics again. Because the Libd Dems won’t exist.

  • I would very much welcome Nick to speak in the North East, particularly in LibDem run Newcastle. This would be not only greatly welcomed as a morale boost for party members, but also a great act of political courage considering the degree to which the region’s Labour are portraying the LibDem as Tory lap-dogs.

  • Andrea Gill 24th Jul '10 - 3:32pm

    Fantastic, the comments section has turned into a mouthpiece for Labour propaganda making twisted accusations about imaginary privatisations of the NHS etc.

    I for one enjoyed what I could of this broadcast, and hope it will be up on the official DPM YouTube soon http://www.youtube.com/user/deputyprimeminister

  • gramsci's eyes 24th Jul '10 - 4:17pm

    “Nick Clegg meets … Showing the Lib Dem fight against the Tories is alive and well.”

    If that is a “fight against” then I wonder what supporting the Tories looks like.

    It’s bad enough that on this blog important political and economic issues and news (what now the cuts when growth figures show the success of stimulating the economy), but asking us to enter a parallel universe is a step too far.

  • gramsci's eyes 24th Jul '10 - 4:19pm

    Sorry – Important political and economic news is often ignored

  • Rob Sheffield 24th Jul '10 - 4:31pm

    @Andrea Gill

    “Fantastic, the comments section has turned into a mouthpiece for Labour propaganda making”

    thus speaks the main consistent and persistent mouthpiece for Conservative propaganda in every thread 😉

  • Rob Sheffield 24th Jul '10 - 4:35pm

    Clegg interviewed just now for C4 news:

    “Clegg also accepted, in light of GDP growth and deficit figures, that the economy is not worse than we thought before the election”

    It would be appropriate to hear that from some of the more hysterical orange-Tory types on this website.

  • George Kendal But would I like us to undermine the coalition, and so risk a crisis in confidence in the UK in the bond markets? Most definitely, no.

    There it is, in a nutshell. If I was on order-order.com, I’d understand it. But on a Lib Dem blog, to read the words of Gideon George Oik Osborne justified so lazily – makes me despair.

    Gideon warned this would happen before every bond + gilt sale under Brown. Guess what? No impact. The lunatics have most certainly taken over when Liberals are repeating paranoid, unheeded Tory economic warnings.

    Heaven help us.

    It was only 2 weeks ago that Standard + Moody’s were advising Gideon that his savage cuts were more than likely to reduce our AAA rating – because they simply didn’t believe they will happen.

  • What is also worth commenting on, is how badly managed the Coalition is on a daily basis.

    They’re tearing themselves apart now, with a leaderless Labour Party.

    Heaven help them – Tory + Liberal – when the Labour Party do actually get a leader and begin co-ordinated, concerted political attacks. The line about Liam Byrne’s “there’s no money left” isn’t even working now as an effective attack; the illegal Iraq War line has been veto’d by Clegg’s boss; the Q2 GDP figures will no doubt collapse in the next quarter due to the spike in Builder’s revenues collapsing after BSF etc was cancelled – killing Oik’s economic credibility once and for all (and with Cable having so whole-heartedly supported him, his credibility will sink even lower).

    The politics is fascinating.

  • Mark Inskip 24th Jul '10 - 6:09pm

    @Rob Sheffield
    ““Clegg also accepted, in light of GDP growth and deficit figures, that the economy is not worse than we thought before the election”” – no he didn’t what he said to quote him verbatim was “we’ve never said the economy’s worse, we’ve said the structural deficit is worse…” – suggest you listen to the interview again.

    Labour’s line had been that growth is too weak for cuts to be made to the deficit. Yesterday’s GDP growth figures rather torpedo’d that line of argument and instead they quietly buried that line and claimed they’d expected this growth all along…

  • Mark, to claim that the Q2 GDP figures “bury” Labour’s argument – is more than stretching it. To try and make a case that they support the Liberal supported slash ‘n’ burn cuts is highly entertaining.

    Labour’s actions – actions the Liberal Party agreed with before May 14th – produced the Q2 growth. Even the most Tory sympathetic economists have had to grudgingly accept that they did not expect this level of growth – and that it produces a double-edged sword for Oik.

    Why?

    The growth is principally based upon growth in the building sector – which was based upon the various public sector building programmes they relied on. That this has now been slashed by Oik + Alexander – is making the City very, VERY nervous.

    Expect the Q3 figures to be neutral or negative. Expect Gideon’s plans to be ridiculed once again by Xmas. The fact that the Liberals have so whole-heartedly jumped behind Gideon means your ability to seperate has gone forever.

    These are dark days for the Liberal Party.

  • Mark Inskip 24th Jul '10 - 7:08pm

    @ianrobo
    Weak? Its exceptionally strong. Rob Sheffield claims Clegg said something in a C4 interview today, I responded with the verbatim quote proving he said nothing of the sort. You response, oh sh*! better claim it was Osborne instead… now that’s what passes for weak.

    @cuse
    Guess you missed that manufacturing is up by 1.6 per cent, business services and finance by 1.3 per cent.

  • Andrea Gill 24th Jul '10 - 8:05pm

    @Rob S: Cheeky!

  • @IanRobo

    Have you read the Academies bill and supporting notes? Did you watch or read the Hansard transcripts of the excellent committee stage so far of this bill?

    You should. Committee has been excellent, and that is a credit to Labour MP’s as well as Tory and LD ones. Many of the wild accusations you have made have been dealt with there. Take a look.

  • Andrea Gill wrote:

    “making twisted accusations about imaginary privatisations of the NHS etc”

    If you genuinely believe that “Equity and Excellence” is a catalogue of great proposals, then how about defending it – instead of simply insulting critics?

    Lansley’s proposals will inevitably lead to a greater role for private actors within the NHS. Do you really think that is right? Do you honestly believe there is a genuine and immediate need to abolish PCTs? If so, tell us what that need is. And while you are at it, perhaps you can tell us why it was right for Lansley to stop more polyclinics being built in London.

    Lansley’s proposals were not part of the Coalition Agreement and they were not in the Tory Manifesto. So we are not required to support them. I think it was outrageous for the Parliamentary Party to give its approval to “Equity and Excellence” without first consulting the membership – it has been thrown at us as a fait a complis with poor old John Pugh drawing the short straw. Clegg clearly thinks members won’t want to rock the boat. I say we call his bluff on this one.

  • Andrea Gill 25th Jul '10 - 1:18am

    @Sesenco – Labour has no right to go around spreading such ridiculous lies about “Tories want to privatise the NHS”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jul/25/nhs-labour-wasted-millions

    Tories say Labour wasted £300m on using private providers to cut NHS waiting times
    New health secretary Andrew Lansley claims that the NHS could have done the work more effectively

  • Andrea Gill.
    Sesenco is right on this one. I have read “Equity + Excellence”. Cover to Cover. And, to be perfectly transparent, my wife is a GP.

    It is privatisation by another name. To defend it by accusing Labour of spreading lies is disingenuous on your part – but consistent with current Liberal thinking. That is – defend one point by throwing accusations around concerning another point.

    Mark Inskip. Missed the manufacturing figures? No Mark. Think it through. What do builders build with? You also seem to miss my point by trying to make your point. And fail to address the main point – that it puts Oik in a very diffcult place. I guess Oik will be praying every day for the next 3 months until we find out…

  • @cuse
    Your main point seemed to be that Q2 GDP growth was purely down to public sector construction projects. As the ONS figures I provided show, that’s clearly not true. Now you seem to be claiming that manufacturing growth is driven by demand from the construction sector. This is neither supported by the detailed ONS figures nor by sector reports from motor manufacturing and aerospace for example. If we are to have a sensible decision on the economic please try to supply arguments which have at least a little underpinning with real data.

  • Ryan M
    “Have you read the Academies bill and supporting notes? Did you watch or read the Hansard transcripts of the excellent committee stage so far of this bill?
    You should. Committee has been excellent, and that is a credit to Labour MP’s as well as Tory and LD ones. Many of the wild accusations you have made have been dealt with there. Take a look.”

    I’ve read every word and the key issue, of consulting before removing local democratic accountability, has not been addressed. The requirement to consult with anyone you choose to is no requirement at all. Look at the list of Lib Dems who voted against the amendment requiring schools to consult with parents and weep. Monday is the last chance to prevent governors handing power over their local school directly to Mr Gove – even if it is against the wishes of every member of staff, every child, every parent, every member of the community and every elected representative. I urge Liberal Democrats to support this amendment – or to renounce their claimed commitment to localism for ever.

  • ‘[the Lib Dems will]’ be continuing to campaign against them [the Tories] in the country’ – while still keeping them in power, how comforting! I voted LibDem, where I live that meant against Lansley. A couple of days later the my vote helped to make Lansley a minister! Vote for LibDems again? Never, and Never means Never.

  • Andrea Gill:

    And here was I hoping that you would defend “Equity and Excellence”. Instead, you launch a smokescreen attack on the Labour Party.

    I have just rummaged through the back of my car looking for some of the leaflets I delivered during the election campaign. Unfortunately, I chucked them all out. I do, however, recall, that many of those leaflets carried dire warnings that the Tory Party, or elements within it, were planning to privatise the NHS. Now that the Tories actually are planning to privatise the NHS, the Lib Dem leadership has decided to capitulate on this most critical of issues. Sorry, but I can understand why some of our supporters are feeling cheated.

  • “Would I like us to undermine the coalition, and so risk a crisis in confidence in the UK in the bond markets? Most definitely, no.”

    Let’s leave aside the element of desperation in arguing that we are forced to support Tory policies because there’s an economic crisis going on. (Historically, of course, more often than not there’s some sort of “economic crisis” going on.)

    Let’s just think constructively about what we can do. We have been well and truly had. The policies now on offer from the Tories are not what was written into the coalition agreement. If we do not do something straight away, they will become Lib Dem policies. We will then be pilloried when they fail.

    We should declare now that we will give the current coalition a strictly limited period of time – maybe something like eighteen months – to tackle the deficit and stabilise the economy. That will satisfy the bond markets, and also deal with those who wish to talk up their supposed ferocity for political ends.

    After that, all bets are off. If that means a new election, so be it. But we cannot sign up to the massive changes in health and education which the Tories have suddenly sprung on us.

    Indeed, we should warn the Tories not to waste money on starting those change programmes now – because they cannot rely on having the time they would need in government to bring them to fruition. If they really want to go ahead, they should fight another election – and this time, tell the public the truth about what it is they stand for.

  • For me the outcome of the last election was quite straightforward; the LibDems, bless’em, used my vote to put and sustain the Tory party in power. After many years following politics in this county, I believe that the first duty of any British political party to the electorate is to keep the (“Toxic”) Conservative party as far away from the levers of power as possible. If the LibDem party members had any integrity at all they would have resigned en masse, instead they have allowed Clegg to destroy the Liberal Democrat party. This is of no concern to me, what is of concern, for what have become rather obvious reasons, is the fact that a bunch of predictable right-wing neanderthals are running the country, courtesy of you lot!

  • DaveN wrote:

    “If the LibDem party members had any integrity at all they would have resigned en masse, instead they have allowed Clegg to destroy the Liberal Democrat party.”

    If Lib Dem members resigned from the party en masse, how would they be able to stop Clegg destroying it?

    This is no time for Lib Dems to be deserting the party. It is an opportunity for members to come together as never before and stop Nick Clegg leading us into the abyss.

    David Allen is right. Eighteen months is more than enough to take the necessary steps to deal with the deficit. The privatisation of the NHS was neither part of the Tory Manifesto nor the Coaltion Agreement. If the Tories were being honest and straightforward with the British people, it would have been. Don’t try to tell me that Lansley thought this all up in two months! Just what are the Liberal Democrats doing supporting the privatisation of the NHS, and why are we allowing ourselves to be steam-rollered?

  • “It is an opportunity for [LibDem] members to come together as never before and stop Nick Clegg leading us into the abyss.] But LibDem party members are not trying to stop him, he is a Tory and will end up in the Tory party. LibDem party member seem to be paralysed – most of them appear to loathe the Tory party but they haven’t got what it takes to stop their leader taking down a route they don’t want to go down.

  • DaveN wrote:

    “he is a Tory and will end up in the Tory party.”

    If Nick Clegg really was a Tory, would he not have joined the Tory Party?

    “LibDem party member seem to be paralysed”

    Really? I take it you have access to detailed overviews of what Lib Dem members are doing and saying at any given time? When Lib Dems lobby the leadership, we don’t always do it with a megaphone pointed in your direction.

  • If you are trying to claim, Sesenco, is that your LibDem members are quietly “lobbying” their leadership, then from I am standing it is having precisely zero effect. Make no mistake, what we have is a full-blooded, gung-ho, state-cutting Tory government. The majority of that government are hell-bent on just two aims; cuts in public services and the repeal of the hunting bill, both of which with the help of their little LibDem fans they will achieve. And yes, I am very annoyed that you lot used my vote to put the Tory Party in power.

  • I have voted LD in every election since 1985. I am not a member of the Labour Party or even a secret LP supporter. I hated their assault on civil liberties and the Iraq war which our coalition supporters also supported, also their control freakery. However, I despair that nearly every time anyone criticises any aspect of the coalition someone accuses them of being a LP supporting troll. I expect the LP to oppose us, they are HMG’s Opposition and that’s what opposition parties do – we are the Government now after all. I ‘m sorry, I suppose I am not very sophisticated politically, I’m just a voter who out of confusion reads this site for some enlightenment on what other LD voters think of ‘the deal.’
    I should have read the Orange book and seen the writing on the wall but I thought that based on the manifesto, the leaflets delivered in my constituency and what Nick Clegg actually said I hadn’t voted for free schools, more academies and another major reform of the NHS leading to more private sector involvement – silly me. When I hear boasts of ‘more radical than Thatcher’ I do wonder what I voted for and why I should continue to support the party – fingers crossed for AV (a poor alternative to PR but a bird in hand etc) and an end to Trident but if neither of these happen will iot be worth all the people who leave off voting for us because they now think we’re a radical centre right party??

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