Nick Clegg – “The clouds are lifting. We need to look people in the eye and say – we got it right”

Clegg WatfordSpeaking to the Independent, Nick Clegg is upbeat:

We need to be unabashed about the fact that we have played a vital, even pivotal, role in saving the British economy and a leading role in providing fairness in the tax, education and skills systems and greening our economy for the future.

Clegg gives a list of Tory proposals that the Lib Dems have vetoed. Among them are  a recent attempt to cut planned child care provision for two-year-olds; a 40p top rate of income tax; cuts in inheritance tax for the rich; workers being “fired at will” without good reason; state schools being run for profit; a divisive two-tier examination system; and regional pay for public sector workers.

We need to explain that this country would be very different indeed – in my view a lot less fair – if the Conservatives had been left to their own devices.

He is unapologetic about the Lib Dems’ role in the  coalition:

We need to look people in the eye and say, ‘We got it right’. We made a big judgement, we were criticised for it… but we got it right… We have turned a corner and passed through the darkest hour. That would not have been possible if the Lib Dems had not held our nerve and held together as we have.

He is dismissive of Lord Oakeshott, a fierce critic, “I would miss him if he didn’t pop up at this time of year. It is like clockwork. The weather becomes foul… and up pops Matthew Oakeshott with some disobliging comments.”

Nick is cautiously upbeat about the 2015 election:

I am quietly optimistic. I accept we have a huge mountain to climb. We have a long way to go. We have lost a lot of support.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Conference and News.


  • Lynda Davies 14th Sep '13 - 9:11am

    If Nick Clegg really believes this, he has his head in the clouds on the ground the reality is the LibDems had a chance of power, grabbed it with both hands and have agreed to anything to keep it. They and they alone have sold this country down the river. Roll on the election when we can have a party in power that believes in something other than running the country.

  • “Roll on the election when we can have a party in power that believes in something other than running the country.”

    And which party would that be, exactly?

    I think you can accuse the Liberal Democrats of anything but being in it just for the power. Honestly, Lynda, what are your comments really based on? I’d really like to know, because they don’t accord with the reality which I happen to live, where we only have one MP in every 11 and have faced massive challenges due to the appalling state of the public finances. Which bit of only having one sixth of the MPs in the Coalition passed you by? And what, exactly, would have been your alternative? Surely not the fantasy of Confidence and Supply, which would have seen none of our policies implemented, no Lib Dems as ministers and the Tories creating some fake “crisis of governability” which only they as a party could have afforded to fight.

  • What astonishing Chutzpah!

    Three years after the coalition inherited a recovering economy we’ve managed a single quarter of feeble growth. This is not a story of successful economic policy; this is the story of a country struggling under the weight of Osborne’s economic illiteracy. The lost growth will be felt in the British economy for decades to come; and the social costs of the cruel unfairness of how the cuts have been implemented will last a generation.

    To be proud of the record of desperate failure takes either an extraordinary blindness or wilful self delusion.

  • Melanie Harvey 14th Sep '13 - 12:15pm

    And how long since Liberals were in such a position of any power previous to the limited now acquired Lynda? And pray tell if Liberals hadnt opted for coalition and it had all gone back to the ballot who do you think would have scored? My guess would be Cons, how far right do you think we would have gone by now without such influence being stemmed by the Libs influence however slight that may be? If it had gone the other Lab route one thing is for sure we would now be full throttle in WW3 and far poorer to boot.

  • Nick Clegg has been a disaster for this country and this party.

  • ‘We need to look people in the eye and say, ‘We got it right’.’

    Unbelievable. Adds insult to injury.

  • paul barker 14th Sep '13 - 1:05pm

    I would remind the moaners of the last Poll on Leader approval, from 3 days ago –
    Cameron 36%
    Milliband 24%
    Clegg 24%

  • Paul Barker

    If you’re going to keep quoting that over and over again, why don’t you give the full figures?

    Party leader: Satisfied % – dissatisfied % = net satisfaction %
    Cameron: 36-56 = -20
    Clegg: 24-64 = -40
    Farage: 29-36 = -7
    Miliband: 24-60 = -36

    And if you’re trying to argue that third party leaders are bound to have more people against them than for them, you need to bear in mind that in a YouGov poll before the 2005 election, the figures for Charles Kennedy were 60-25 = 35.

  • “Rather a silly comparison, surely?”

    If you read my comment, you’ll see the point of the comparison: if you’re trying to argue that third party leaders are bound to have more people against them than for them

    Got it?

  • Simon

    It’s exactly what Paul Barker was suggesting in one of his many comments quoting these figures. He said “The idea that Clegg is unpopular comes from the tribalism of British politics, voters boo the “other two” & cheer their own, as third Party we get more boos.”

    And whatever you may or may not believe or understand, the Lib Dems were the third party in 2005, so the Kennedy figures do provide a counter-example to what he is saying.

  • Simon

    It’s really not that hard to understand. Paul Barker claimed that because the Lib Dems are the third party the leader will have a low satisfaction rating. The Lib Dems were the third party in 2005. Charles Kennedy had a stratospheric satisfaction rating. Claim disproved.

  • Party leader ratings don’t mean that much. We don’t have a presidential election.

  • @ John Roffey

    “Of course Nick Clegg was desperate for power, had it not been the case he would not have taken a government post himself and only agreed to a handful of his MPs doing so”

    Thus letting the Tories have all the ministers in government and rely on them to implement the Lib Dem policies in the Coalition agreement.

    What could possibly go wrong with that kind of wizard ruse?

    As for Clegg’s leader poll ratings, the only reason they are so low on a net basis is because of the wave of tribal hatred from Labour supporters for being a “traitor” (i.e. to the Labour party) and not acting meekly as some kind of handmaiden to usher them into power. It is the negative rating among Labour supporters that makes it so low.

    Any leader faced with trying to sort out the public finances and the dreadful economic situation left by the last government while being pilloried constantly and viciously in the press would have seen his poll ratings plummet, even the saintly Charles Kennedy.

  • @Sandra

    Whilst technically that’s true, we vote for an individual MP to represent us in Parliament and not for a President. The reality of it is, I believe a majority of people in the uk who vote, tend to vote for a “party” rather than the Individual MP.

    So having a good leader who appeals to the broadest section is essential really.

    That’s why Labour are screwed and fighting an uphill battle with Edd Milliband at the helm, and that’s why Liberal Democrats will suffer the same fate, because of Clegg’s appalling public opinion of him. Clegg was in a position to capitalize on his high approval ratings before and after the 2010 election, unfortunately though for the party, he rolled belly up and became totally submissive to Cameron and the Tories. He fully embraced all the policies that have been implemented by this coalition government as if Liberal Democrats where in full agreement with them. The pubic now see him as weak and unprincipled. It is almost impossible to recover from that sort of perception.

  • “Clegg was in a position to capitalize on his high approval ratings before and after the 2010 election”

    How was that, then? How was going into government with one MP in every 11 at a time of a major crisis in the public finances “in a position to capitalise on high approval ratings”. How did being constantly pilloried month after month in the press put him in that position either?

    He was actually positioned to do precisely the opposite.

    “he rolled belly up and became totally submissive to Cameron and the Tories. He fully embraced all the policies that have been implemented by this coalition government as if Liberal Democrats where in full agreement with them.”

    Another assertion that is diametrically the opposite of reality. If he rolled over, how come the Tories never got to shred workplace rights, cut the tax rate to 40% for the rich, cut benefits even more, put us on the road to pull out of the EU, renew Trident immediately, do nothing about cutting tax for the poor, go ahead with boundary reform etc. etc.

    Sorry, I can’t let you get away with making statements that are actually totally the contrary of what actually happened.

  • @RC

    You are entitled to your opinion, as I am entitled to mine.

    These constant excuses about only having 1 in 5 mps is getting very tiresome indeed. Nowhere in the coalition agreement does it say you get “x” amount of influence for “Y” amount of MP’s. To keep on harping the way you are does your argument no favors.

    The point I was getting at was that Nick Clegg embraced ALL the polices that have been implemented by this government, he embraced them as Liberal Democrat Policies.
    This is something that others and Matthew Huntbach has pointed out on many occasions on these forums. Clegg made no attempt to distance himself or the party from some of the more right winged policies, I believe in fact he is now stating that you should be proud of your achievements in government, including those policies on welfare reforms “bedroom tax” etc. etc.
    It is Cleggs submissive demeanor attitude towards Cameron, not wanting to show any differences or disagreements which have been so disastrously damaging for his reputation and that of the party. That is a perception that will not go away with the public and you are stuck with it, whilst Clegg is still holding the reigns.

    As for workers rights, I think you will find this government, including the Liberal Democrats have took a huge axe to workers rights. Changing the law so that you can not bring a tribunal case for unfair dismissal until 2 years of employment for starters, removing access to legal aid.

    So I am sorry RC, I can get away with saying statements like that, because quite frankly, it is the truth. You may not like hearing it, you may wish to ignore it and pretend it’s not happening, that is entirely your prerogative.

  • Just to further a point.
    Even one of Clegg’s closest allies and fellow orange-bookers Jeremy Browne, said in an article he wrote today for LDV
    “But the Liberal Democrats have not just made the popular decisions. Not everyone likes the cap on welfare, or reductions in military spending, or the rise in VAT to help tackle Britain’s debt mountain, but we have SUPPORTED these policies too. We have been WILLING AT ALL STAGES to make the necessary but tougher decisions as well. We have voted through the changes that Britain needed to start on the road to recovery.”

    Then he goes on to say
    “So Liberal Democrats have taken the difficult but correct decisions over the last three-and-a-half years, but now, with the General Election approaching, we also need to win the credit we deserve for turning round our country.
    That means Liberal Democrats EMBRACING our role in Government and being proud of our overall record.

    And it is that kind of belly up, submissive attitude from Clegg and the leadership which has caused vast numbers of former party members and voters feeling betrayed and leaving the party.

    In today’s Daily Mail. Jeremey Browne has said
    “At the same time, more than 20 million workers on middle incomes had had their income tax cut as the amount that can be earned tax free has been increased in stages towards £10,000.
    These are all Liberal Democrats successes just as much as Conservative successes. We have stuck with determination to the policies that have made this progress possible,” Mr Browne said.

    Funny I thought the raising of the tax threshold was a Liberal Democrat initiative, But Jeremy Browne seems to be crediting it to the Tories and saying that Liberal Democrats deserves some credit for it as well.

    What extraordinary language used by a Liberal Democrat Minister, One would have to wonder which party he actually belongs too.

  • Interesting to see how tribal politics has been used against Nick Clegg and to a lesser extent to other Lib Dem Secs of State and Ministers. Similar political tribalism was used against John Prescott, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Margaret Thatcher – and other PMs and Deputies of course. It’s all part of the politically tribal system which you can read clearly if you visit any readers’ comment sections of the press. It’s to be expected from all who have strong and reasoned views based upon their own principles in life. And most people here comment in a polite manner – understanding how difficult it was, and is, to bring a consensus into government from the party numbers of MPs delivered by the electorate in 2010.

    I am one who also believes that there would have been a further election and a more radical right government if coalition was not possible in 2010. Many forget that the Labour Party was unprepared to think of coalition – as they had turned against sharing government for decades, even when they had promised some form of it but could not deliver when it came to actually forming one. The more you read Labour negotiators’ statements from 2010 you realize they had become a tired government – often looking inward to Gordon Brown but not outward to the full electorate. That is a constant in political tribalism – staring at your own …. electorate.

    The fact that the coalition formed in 2010 has lasted long enough to breathe a stable message for economic recovery, though not always what all political tribes would prefer including mine, has a better chance of success than the tired government which Gordon Brown would have delivered. Labour is gathering itself to make new policies for 2015, the worst of the Tory right has been seen off in this parliament, and the Lib Dems can focus on holding some of the strong-holds built on principles which all parties have subsumed to some extent. No party sees itself being in government for long – that is the British way – but I, for one, believe holding the political tribes together is both difficult and necessary.

    Let’s see how the next year or two goes and if parties can still work together – which they actually do now, well, many of them!

  • There sems two types of people that read this site. The realists and the Clegg loyalists. The realists in the party realise how much Nick Clegg is electoral poison to the Lib Dems, they speak to people on the street I assume, and can feel the dislike aimed towards them when his name is mentioned.

    The loyalists seem to come across as hough they would defend him no matter what he says or does.

    What does shock me though is how completely out of touch with reality Nick Clegg is with the public as a whole and those people on the ground.”We need to look people in the eye and say we got it right”…..if I went to my constituents and said that I would be lynched. They may have got it right for many of the leafy southern more affluent constituencies, but in the midlands northwards it is, has been, still is and looks for the foreseeable future and uphill struggle just to survive. I wont even mention the bedroom tax.

    Someone, somewhere in the party needs to have a serious word with him or the more the public sees and hears him the worse it is going to be for the party.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Joe Bourke
    The level of penalty for self-assessment tax return errors is determined by an evaluation of the care you take in submitting required data. If it is clear that...
  • Peter Watson
    @David Franks "Liberal Democrat leaders have no right to stay silent on the key issue when the Party has a very clear policy, officially approved by ;large majo...
  • Paul Barker
    The Libdem amendments seem fair enough but they do involve spending money, at a time when The Greater London authority is particularly strapped for cash. Money ...
  • Nonconformistradical
    "if we listen to Jim Harra, chief executive of HMRC: “There are no penalties for innocent errors in your tax affairs”" I got the impression from his tone...
  • Nonconformistradical
    @Jenny Barnes Indeed not everyone needs a car but many tradespeople need vans - it's just not practicable for them given they need lots of tools, ladders etc....