Nick Clegg: Together, we can build Britain’s liberal future

I would like to thank all Liberal Democrat members whose support led to my election yesterday as Party Leader.  Now is the time for our party to come together to work for a more liberal Britain. Politics is out of step with the liberal instincts of the British people: we must change that.

When I look at Britain today I see a country stifled by the policies of successive illiberal governments – both Labour and Conservative.  Our civil liberties have been casually cast aside, our public services are run by giant, faceless and often incompetent government bureaucracies, and our poorest communities suffer with security and opportunity in short supply.  Britain is a rich society full of ambitious people with energy and drive, but where families nonetheless struggle to meet their monthly bills and achieve a good balance between the demands of work and family time.

I am determined that our party will point the way to a better future for Britain: the liberal country that the British people want it to be.  We can do that by trusting the citizen, taking radical action, and ending the stifling grip of the two-party system.

I want to open up my party, Westminster, and British politics as a whole.  I intend to hold regular and public Town Hall Meetings, and to spend at least one day every week listening and campaigning outside Westminster, reaching out and engaging with families and individuals throughout Britain who feel disconnected from politics.

I started that process today.

This morning I met with the heads of twelve charities in the End Child Poverty coalition to discuss how to meet my commitment to end child poverty by 2020.

Later, I met with sixth form pupils at a pioneering school in south-east London.  I learned about their aspirations and the challenges they face.  Brian Eno joined me there and I am delighted that he has agreed to be my advisor on engaging with young people and ways to support the ambitions of those who whose voices are often unheard.

Government must learn to trust people.  I want to live in a country where rights, freedoms and privacy are not the playthings of politicians, but where human rights and civil liberties are safeguarded for the benefit of everyone.  The Britain I believe in trusts people to use their liberty for positive ends.  That is why I want our party to look at new ways in which parents, pupils and patients can take charge of the schools and hospitals that they rely on.

We must not shy from the challenge of developing radical new policies to address the chronic problems that afflict our country.  We must champion big ideas on the environment, health, and education and a plan to break down the barriers to social mobility, so that no-one is condemned by the circumstances of their birth.

Just as important, I want to pioneer a new politics – a people’s politics.  The stark reality is that Britain’s political system is out of touch with the modern world.  A distant, centralised top-down system of government is simply not good enough.

As I begin my leadership, I am ambitious for the Liberal Democrats and optimistic for our country.  I want our party to be the future of politics because only we have the courage to imagine a better society, and break the stifling grip of the two-party system.  Together, we can build Britain’s liberal future.

Nick Clegg MP is the Leader of the Liberal Democrats

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  • Laurence,

    ideally, i agree that a referendum on the monarchy seems a good idea, but in practice it is an unwise one from a republican perspective – for several reasons:

    a) the main reason is that the monarchy would win. credit where credit’s due for Mrs Windsor and the exceptionally good PR for the whole concept of monarchy that she is. While she is queen, there is virtually no chance of the monarchy being abolished

    b) a referendum lost now undermines and discredits later attempts to hold a referendum on the monarchy, when it may genuinely be unpopular

    c) if we hang on a bit longer until Prince Charles becomes king and let the British people experience a genuine example of the ‘virtues’ of the hereditary principle.

  • Cheltenham Robin 19th Dec '07 - 9:25pm

    Credit where credit’s due for David Cameron and the exceptionally good PR for the whole concept of the Compassionate Conservative Party.

    A bit like the monarchy really only more set in it’s ways.

  • The anti-Clegg 20th Dec '07 - 1:09am

    “Brian Eno joined me there and I am delighted that he has agreed to be my advisor on engaging with young people”

    Does Clegg realise Brian Eno is pushing 60!

  • At last a party leader willing to own up to being a secularist. A bit of a worry he still thinks it politic to espouse the ‘respect’ agenda for “belief” in mediaeval mumbo-jumbo, but so it goes. As long as you don’t let your social policies be influenced by any of the sky-father misogynies,I will support you.

  • Come on Nick. Make these LibDem Voice people (or whoever designs their polls)wake up! One reason the old parties are losing their grip is that they see themselves on the ancient left-right political spectrum. Britain divides much more clearly nowadays on a front to back spectrum – liberal to authoritarian. The centre of that is where liberal Consevatives, less authoritarian Labour and more traditionalist LibDems meet. For an absolute majority under first past the post we probably need to occupy the centre as well as the front, but with the front alone we could be at well over 100 seats. What price then the natural coalition for authority, Labour with Tory?

    PS to Laurence Boyle. Certainly monarchy is absurd in any modern democracy. The trouble is it just works better, feels better and probably costs no more than any Presidential option on offer.

  • Anthony Wright 20th Dec '07 - 6:09pm

    Liberalism has to be about tolerance of diversity, so long as that is not anti-social. But it must not be about tolerance of intolerance and bigotry, whether political, religious, or cultural. How do the LibDems propose to face up to that issue, which is not currently being tackled by either of the larger parties?

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