Nick Clegg tells business leaders: Liberal Democrats are a party of business and enterprise

Nick Clegg is at the Mansion House tonight talking to business leaders about the economy.  The BBC reports that his speech is covering three main themes: Europe,  banking and responsible enterprise, emphasising an approach based on pragmatism, not dogma.

It must be a struggle for the man who knows Europe backwards from his time there working for Leon Brittain to have to work with Tories whose ideas are most often borne out of xenophobic, ill-informed prejudice. Nick is not blind to Europe’s faults, but he knows how to sort it out. He makes the point that Britain has to engage at every stage of the debate otherwise the Eurozone countries will effectively undermine the single market by creating another amongst themselves. He talks about encouraging Europe wide banking reform and also making sure that the rules on the way the various central banks talk to each other are worked out fairly.

He also says that the Eurozone countries need to remember that a huge proportion of the European financial services industry is based in Britain and if they compromise us, they hurt the whole of Europe.

Nick goes on to outline the measures the Government has taken to make sure businesses have the money they need and then to talk about the need for responsible enterprise. That involves the measures Vince Cable is bringing in to give workers and shareholders a greater say in their companies and also to get more women on boards.

He says he wants business and the Government to work together to sort the economy out after the ravages of the crash of 2008.

He’s clearly setting out the Liberal Democrat stall as a pro-business party, telling them that we’ve always supported enterprise and free trade.

While he’s speaking, Lorely Burt has been emailing party members to tell them about Nick’s speech and to invite them to complete a small business survey. This is where I start to blush rather profusely. I wanted to see what the questions were and you have to answer the questions on one page before you progress to the next. So, I just made stuff up, assuming,  like with the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys, that I’d have the chance to back out before I submitted my answers. No such luck. As I write, someone in Liberal Democrat HQ is probably spluttering with either amusement or indignation. Maybe I”ll be lucky and mine will have vanished into the technological ether and nobody will be any the wiser about the activities of the Rainbow Knitting Company owned by Indigo Violet.

This is the second, I think, interactive email from an MP. Jo Swinson sent one during the Summer asking for views and suggestions on economic growth. It’s a positive development from the Internal Communications team.

Going back to Nick’s speech, it’s quite a delicate line for him to tread – to show that the Liberal Democrats are pro-business, but against corporate abuse of power. One of the key elements of liberalism is to protect citizens from the abuse of power by the state or anyone else. Another is to promote enterprise and encourage business and trade. It’s important that we do both.

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

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