Nick Clegg: we’re making the rich pay their fair share of tax

Nick Clegg’s speech to the party’s Welsh conference contained much in the way of summarising the party’s current official position on politics and government priorities – and also a reference to Lembit Opik. His departure from the Commons was made the subject of a joke rather than a cause of regret – just the sort of reference that Lembit’s own actions do nothing to dissuade people from.

Central to the speech was Clegg’s description of the Liberal Democrat approach to a fair tax system:

Not all the decisions we’ve made have been easy and we must be honest about the many obstacles we still have to face.

But we’re already making huge progress, both for the UK and for Wales.

Just think, thanks to Liberal Democrat tax reform, from next month we will start putting money back in the pockets of over one million Welsh taxpayers.

That’s fair – those who work hard and play by the rules should get a fair deal from government.

Based on today’s trends, by 2015 nearly a fifth of people working Wales will not pay a penny in income tax.

Nearly one in five Welsh workers.

Nick Clegg on the campaign trailNo income tax. Not a penny.

That is Liberal Democrats delivering for Wales.

To fund this, we’re making the rich pay their fair share of tax.

By 2015 we will be raising £7bn a year by cracking down on those who think they can hoard their fortunes away from the taxman.

And, thanks to Liberal Democrat policies, from next month 600,000 Welsh pensioners will get a fairer deal.

Our ‘triple lock’ will ensure the state pension rises in line with earnings, inflation or 2.5% – whichever is the highest.

No more insulting 75p pensions increases that Labour delivered.

Instead, if you retire this year on a basic state pension, you will receive £15,000 more over your retirement than you would have done under Labour.

Scrapping the earnings link was one of the greatest injustices of Thatcher’s administration.

An injustice that Labour failed to rectify in thirteen whole years of majority rule.

We have taken just 11 months to right this thirty-year wrong.

We have begun to create a new economy out of the ashes of the old.

An economy founded not on speculation but on sustainability.

Not on the principle of making a quick buck, but on long term growth and prosperity for our children.

Thanks to the Liberal Democrat Green Deal led by our outstanding Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, hundreds of thousands of Welsh homes will be insulated, lowering fuel bills and reducing carbon emissions.

And by 2015, the Gwynt y Mor offshore wind farm will be providing a third of Welsh homes with clean energy and will have generated over 1000 jobs.

That is the kind of green and sustainable economy Wales and the UK need.

And thanks to Liberal Democrat principles, we’re restoring civil liberties, empowering communities and reforming politics.

And this includes political reform for Wales…

But I also want people to understand just how much this government has done to limit banking excess and get the banks lending again.

Our banking levy will raise £2.5bn every single year.

Not a one-off payment, like Labour’s bonus tax

Not a temporary fix.

A permanent, sustained tax on the banks’ balance sheets that will raise £10bn in this parliament alone.

On top of this we have agreed strict limits to cash bonuses –

Established the most transparent pay disclosure regime in world –

And extracted a commitment that the banks will lend £10bn more to businesses than they did last year.

So that’s £10bn more in tax and £10bn more through lending.

Money that will help Welsh businesses generate jobs and growth.

Yet Labour have the nerve to say that their £2.3bn bonus tax raised more money!

Only Labour party economists could claim that 2.3 is greater than 10.

It’s no wonder the economy collapsed on their watch!

But we can’t stop at reforming the banks.

We must start nurturing talent from a young age.

Under Labour-Plaid Welsh pupils receive £600 less in funding than pupils in England.

This is utterly unacceptable.

We want for Wales what we have put in place for England.

Welsh Liberal Democrats will create a Pupil Premium to target funding at those who need it most.

It would give extra money to be spent on the least privileged in our society – and it shouldn’t matter which side of Offa’s Dyke they are born.

Here is the speech in full:

It is a great pleasure to be here today, the day after the Welsh people voted decisively for change.

Liberal Democrats have consistently campaigned to strengthen and deepen devolution in Wales.

And so I think the first thing for me to say is ‘congratulations’.

This is another positive step towards reforming our broken political system.

The achievement of the cross party ‘Yes’ campaign will hearten political reformers across the UK.

And put a new spring in the step of the campaign for fairer votes.

This isn’t the end of the devolution process, but it does mark an important turning point.

For the first time ever laws that affect only Wales will be made only in Wales.

It will do away with the current restrictive and unwieldy arrangements.

And it will allow the Welsh Assembly the freedom to get on with the job of delivering for Wales.

I’d like to pay tribute to some of the fantastic people who helped to deliver this ‘Yes’ vote and who already do so much to champion the Welsh cause in Westminster.

Rob Humphreys, who represented us in the cross-party campaign.

Our MPs: Roger and Jenny, both chairing Parliamentary Party committees.

Mark, who secured a debate about a St David’s day holiday just this week.

And as part of the tourism strategy paper announced today we now are consulting on the possibility of making St David’s day a bank holiday here in Wales.

Our peers: Roger, Martin and Joan, Alex, Emlyn. And now Mike and Jenny, who have recently taken on their new roles.

I know they will both be missed in the Senedd.

Our AMs: Eleanor, Veronica, Peter.

And of course there is Kirsty, who I admire not just as a dynamic and charismatic politician, but also as a personal friend.

But I know haven’t always made your life easy, Kirsty, sorry about that.

As everybody in this hall knows she is a passionate advocate for Wales and a powerful voice both inside and outside the party.

When Kirsty Williams speaks Westminster listens.

And of course we’ve even had a Liberal Democrat celebrity flying the Welsh flag in the depths of the Australian jungle!

Now that’s one forestry disaster we’re not responsible for!

Ten months ago, last May, Britain entered a new political era.

And as a party we had a choice: take up the challenge or shy away from it.

I believed then – and I still do today – that we needed to embrace this change and not content ourselves with half measures.

Now, I know Kirsty is very fond of quoting David Lloyd George when he said:

“Don’t be afraid to take a big step. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.”

But I’m sure she won’t mind me borrowing it as to me this really rings true.

We took one big step back in May and we formed a bold, reforming, liberal Coalition.

A Coalition that will last the full length of this Parliament.

Rebalancing our economy, building a fairer society and driving change.

But what was the alternative?

We could have chosen to sit on the sidelines, risking economic instability and turning our back on the challenge of governing.

We could have said it was all too tough, that we just weren’t up to it, that we didn’t have the stomach to take the job on.

But it isn’t, we are, and we do.

Don’t get me wrong, the task we face is truly daunting.

We are under no illusions about the mess we’ve inherited from Labour.

You’d think that a party leaving behind the largest peacetime debt in our national history would show some regret –

That it would apologise for the £120m we are spending every day just to service the interest on their debts – enough to build a primary school every hour.

That it would agree with us when we say there is nothing fair about leaving the next generation to pick up the tab.

That it would at least admit the scale of the challenge and be constructive in its approach.

Not a bit of it.

When it comes to the problems facing our country, Labour has nothing to offer.

They say welfare needs reform, but they can’t say what they’d do.

They say that that the political system needs change but then stand in its way.

They say that the deficit must be cut but oppose every measure we’ve taken to achieve that.

Labour has gone from being a party of government to being the party of no.

No ideas, no direction, no purpose.

If Labour thinks that it can sit this out – that, having created these problems, it can now say nothing about them, let others solve them, and then arrogantly walk back in – then it is mistaken.

Our country is suffering from Labour’s neglect.

Labour must answer for its record, take responsibility and tell us what it’s really for.

Because no is not enough.

I know the Coalition has faced criticism over the reforms we’re making: change will always encounter fierce criticism.

But unlike Labour, we have taken responsibility.

We are facing up to the challenge.

And we will see this through.

Not all the decisions we’ve made have been easy and we must be honest about the many obstacles we still have to face.

But we’re already making huge progress, both for the UK and for Wales.

Just think, thanks to Liberal Democrat tax reform, from next month we will start putting money back in the pockets of over one million Welsh taxpayers.

That’s fair – those who work hard and play by the rules should get a fair deal from government.

Based on today’s trends, by 2015 nearly a fifth of people working Wales will not pay a penny in income tax.

Nearly one in five Welsh workers.

No income tax. Not a penny.

That is Liberal Democrats delivering for Wales.

To fund this, we’re making the rich pay their fair share of tax.

By 2015 we will be raising £7bn a year by cracking down on those who think they can hoard their fortunes away from the taxman.

And, thanks to Liberal Democrat policies, from next month 600,000 Welsh pensioners will get a fairer deal.

Our ‘triple lock’ will ensure the state pension rises in line with earnings, inflation or 2.5% – whichever is the highest.

No more insulting 75p pensions increases that Labour delivered.

Instead, if you retire this year on a basic state pension, you will receive £15,000 more over your retirement than you would have done under Labour.

Scrapping the earnings link was one of the greatest injustices of Thatcher’s administration.

An injustice that Labour failed to rectify in thirteen whole years of majority rule.

We have taken just 11 months to right this thirty-year wrong.

We have begun to create a new economy out of the ashes of the old.

An economy founded not on speculation but on sustainability.

Not on the principle of making a quick buck, but on long term growth and prosperity for our children.

Thanks to the Liberal Democrat Green Deal led by our outstanding Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, hundreds of thousands of Welsh homes will be insulated, lowering fuel bills and reducing carbon emissions.

And by 2015, the Gwynt y Mor offshore wind farm will be providing a third of Welsh homes with clean energy and will have generated over 1000 jobs.

That is the kind of green and sustainable economy Wales and the UK need.

And thanks to Liberal Democrat principles, we’re restoring civil liberties, empowering communities and reforming politics.

And this includes political reform for Wales.

I heard what party leaders have been saying about the timing of UK and Welsh elections.

And as a result the Assembly will now have the power to vary the date of polling day by twelve months, so there’s no clash.

And we’ve decoupled the Assembly constituencies from those at Westminster.

But, while we are in government in Westminster, we are of course the opposition in the Senedd.

A much more effective opposition than the one currently sitting in the House of Commons.

At least we have a plan for Wales and an opposition Leader with a lot more than just a blank sheet of paper!

The honest truth is that the Labour-Plaid administration simply isn’t delivering.

Liberal Democrats are bringing about change for Britain; now we need change for Wales.

Labour’s legacy in Wales is shocking.

Half a million people economically inactive.

Prosperity now lower than when the Assembly was created in 1999.

One in seven Welsh children living in severe poverty.

That’s not fair and it is not good enough.

Labour has let down Wales.

Both in the Senedd and Westminster, their attitude has always been defeatist and patronising.

They have assumed that the only way to help Wales is to shift wealth wholesale from the Treasury coffers to the Assembly Government.

They may have had good intentions, but their actions have only served to smother Welsh innovation and stifle Welsh growth, making people dependent on handouts and overly-reliant on the public sector.

Labour misunderstood devolution.

They gave up a bit of political power, but kept clutching at the purse strings in London.

Their rhetoric was appealing, but the reality was disappointing.

Labour’s pessimistic attitude limits what Wales can achieve. It’s like asking a builder to build a house, but only allowing him enough materials to lay the foundations.

I, on the other hand, am optimistic about Wales.

On my many visits here I’ve always been struck by the entrepreneurial outlook, the immense potential and drive to succeed.

As Liberal Democrats, we understand that you can’t just shift business and growth from London to Wales and call that progress.

Growth has to be organic, nurtured at home.

Liberal Democrats want to see a strong Welsh economy to benefit Welsh people.

That’s the sort of devolution Wales needs.

It’s about creating an environment for Welsh business to thrive and for Welsh entrepreneurs to succeed

It’s about rebalancing our economy so that we don’t ignore everything outside one square mile in London

It’s about creating an innovation fund, as proposed by the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

It’s about listening, not lecturing.

Liberal Democrats in the Coalition are leading the charge.

Thanks to Norman Baker’s brilliant efforts we have secured the electrification of the London-Cardiff train line.

And we are exploring plans with the Assembly Government to electrify key commuter lines in the valleys and along the coast.

This is brilliant news for South Wales in a very tough public spending climate.

Labour failed to electrify a single metre of track in Wales.

We will transform train travel, improving business links, creating new avenues for growth and providing a major boost to the economy.

And Vince Cable has paved the way for radical reform to the banks.

I understand why people are angry when they hear about the super-sized salaries and bumper bonuses awarded to top bankers.

I am too.

But I also want people to understand just how much this government has done to limit banking excess and get the banks lending again.

Our banking levy will raise £2.5bn every single year.

Not a one-off payment, like Labour’s bonus tax

Not a temporary fix.

A permanent, sustained tax on the banks’ balance sheets that will raise £10bn in this parliament alone.

On top of this we have agreed strict limits to cash bonuses –

Established the most transparent pay disclosure regime in world –

And extracted a commitment that the banks will lend £10bn more to businesses than they did last year.

So that’s £10bn more in tax and £10bn more through lending.

Money that will help Welsh businesses generate jobs and growth.

Yet Labour have the nerve to say that their £2.3bn bonus tax raised more money!

Only Labour party economists could claim that 2.3 is greater than 10.

It’s no wonder the economy collapsed on their watch!

But we can’t stop at reforming the banks.

We must start nurturing talent from a young age.

Under Labour-Plaid Welsh pupils receive £600 less in funding than pupils in England.

This is utterly unacceptable.

We want for Wales what we have put in place for England.

Welsh Liberal Democrats will create a Pupil Premium to target funding at those who need it most.

It would give extra money to be spent on the least privileged in our society – and it shouldn’t matter which side of Offa’s Dyke they are born.

That’s why I disagree with the Welsh Conservatives’ budget proposals which could see the gap rise further.

We want to deliver for children in Wales.

And we must ensure that further devolution works for Wales.

Now that the referendum has returned a Yes vote, the Coalition will honour its commitments.

We will work with the Welsh Government to establish a joint process similar to the Calman Commission in Scotland.

Why?

Because greater devolution should go hand in hand with greater control.

I want Welsh voters in charge of Wales’s future.

But while one referendum has been passed, we now face another.

One that goes beyond party politics.

One that transcends national divides.

One whose result will be felt for a long time to come.

The Alternative Vote.

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the way our MPs are elected.

It is a simple change that will make a huge difference.

It means MPs working harder, an end to tactical voting, more voices being heard and power put back in the hands of people, not politicians.

I don’t know what the result of the referendum will be, but one thing’s for sure: this chance won’t come again soon.

So please, get the message out there, spread the word and let’s win the vote for electoral reform.

But as everyone in this hall knows, alongside the referendum this May, we will also be campaigning hard for seats in the Assembly.

This election is a chance for the Welsh people to deliver their verdict on the Labour-Plaid Government and gives us the opportunity to set out our vision for a fairer, more liberal Wales.

We all know what Welsh Liberal Democrats can achieve.

As a partner in the Assembly Government you reduced class sizes and provided hundreds more doctors and nurses.

You fought for free entry to museums and put Wales on the cultural map with the world class Millennium Centre.

In councils in Cardiff, Swansea, Wrexham and Newport, Liberal Democrats are making a huge difference to their local communities.

In Cardiff we’re spearheading plans to build more affordable housing.

And Swansea Council is reopening the Leisure Centre after it was closed by Labour.

Liberal Democrats in Newport have secured £20m to repair some of the town’s crumbling roads.

And in Wrexham we’re installing solar panels on 3,000 council properties, projecting a profit of about £29m for the local community.

These are real solid achievements that are making Wales a fairer place to live.

But we want to go further, aim higher.

And we couldn’t ask for a better team to represent the party.

Our AMs have already shown their mettle through their hard work and tireless campaigning.

But it’s fantastic to see some fresh faces too –

Aled, leading our team in North Wales

Rob in Swansea West

Nigel campaigning for Cardiff

Ed for Newport East

Liz in Ceredigion

And of course we’re going to win with Wyn in Montgomeryshire!

So I ask every single person here over the next two months –

Please, go out into your communities, deliver leaflets, knock on doors.

Get our message out loud and clear.

I’m not saying it won’t be tough.

There will be challenging questions on the doorsteps.

There will be people not yet convinced.

There will be families worried about the future.

But I know that with integrity, determination and courage of conviction, together, we can change Wales for good.

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40 Comments

  • Depressed Ex 5th Mar '11 - 12:24pm

    Someone

    doesn’t

    understand

    the

    difference

    between

    a

    sentence

    and

    a

    paragraph.

  • Wow, a speech in the BBC News house style.

    One sentence per paragraph.

    Apparently it drives the journalists completely up the wall to have their grammatical structure messed around so much, but them’s the rules.

    Have you been affected by issues in this story? Why not Have Your Say in the comments below?

  • Andrew Suffield 5th Mar '11 - 1:19pm

    One sentence per paragraph.

    Yeah, I can’t say I’m fond of this transcript style. It doesn’t reflect anything meaningful about the speech.

  • With Nick’s speeches we have learned we need to read between the lines.

    The gaps between the lines are getting larger ….

    …. for good reason.

  • ‘But we can’t stop at reforming the banks.’

    To be honest, I’d settle for a start at reforming the banks.

  • Depressed Ex 5th Mar '11 - 3:08pm

    But it isn’t, we are, and we do.

  • The “triple lock” would raise the basic state pension by less than Labour’s RPI increase policy would have done, that’s why the triple lock didn’t come in for 2011/12.

  • What stands out for me is that there is no negative mention of the Tories. This is the last major Welsh event before the assembly elections and they may as well be a joint ticket. The Lib Dems are meant to fighting all parties at these elections. In fact a Labour / Lib Dem coalition is a potential outcome, as would a Lib Dem / Plaid one. A Tory coalition in Wales is a virtual impossibility yet only this party is left out of criticism.

    It goes back to Clegg’s attitude to the current coalition I’m afraid. If he continuesin this vain the difference will be seen to be so small the reason for voting Lib Dem will not be apparent to anyone but members.

  • @Duncan and @Steve Way are spot on.

    Clegg is fast becoming the most irrelevant politician in the UK. His speeches are derided in many circles; mocked in most.

    He can’t even see why in Wales, he needs to take more nuanced line than “Coalition is great; we’re great, Dave is great; Tories are great; Labour are bad; Everything we’ve done is super-duper great.”

    Who’s taking odds on the timing of the leadership election?

  • “And in Wrexham we’re installing solar panels on 3,000 council properties, projecting a profit of about £29m for the local community.”

    On what timescale? That’s a £10,000 return per property.

  • Out of interest, how many times did Clegg mention Labour or refer to them in this speech?

  • I got as far as the hugely misleading calculations on taxes on banks and gave up. For the first time since his election as leader of the Conservative Party, I find myself agreeing with Cameron. Clegg is now my favourite political joke too!

  • “Nick Clegg: I’ll vote against any rise in tuition fees”

    Why does he bother with his pathetic speeches about how “fair” the Coalition is, and how they’re apparently making the richest pay most? You’d’ve thought he’d’ve learnt by now that no-one believes a word he says… he’s the most toxic politician in modern times.

  • @Steve: there is one, a reference to Thatcher. But that’s about it.

    @Daniel: 2001 Labour Manifesto: “We will not intro­duce ‘top-up’ fees and have leg­is­lated to pre­vent them.”

  • “@Daniel: 2001 Labour Manifesto: “We will not intro­duce ‘top-up’ fees and have leg­is­lated to pre­vent them.”

    I’m not going to defend every dot and comma of the Labour government’s record – but if you really think that promising fees of £1000 and then raising them to £3000, compares to promising no fees atall before raising them to £9000; that a totemic pledge compares to a bog-standard manifesto commitment; and that it’s OK for a party who made “new politics” and “no more broken promises” to end up acting like just another political party – then I don’t know what to tell you.

  • @Will
    “there is one, a reference to Thatcher. But that’s about it.”

    One reference to someone who no longer even carries out public engagements. That’ll show the voters the gulf between the two parties!!!!

    As to Labours duplicity on tuition fees, it was after that and other let downs folowing the 2001 election that they began the slope of mistrust that led to Brown’s ultimate defeat. It took 9 years but they started with a massive majority and therefore had further to fall…..

  • @Andy Hinton
    “If you really think that a junior partner in a coalition failing to deliver one of their more expensive manifesto commitments in the context of a severe fiscal tightening is the same thing as a party with an overall majority and in government by itself failing to stand by their manifesto commitments at a time of fairly benign economic circumstances – then I don’t know what to tell you.”

    Everyone should accept that the Lib Dem manifesto cannot be implemented in full, and therefore that scrapping tuition fees was not a realistic option. However, it was a personally signed pledge by all Lib Dem candidates to vote against any rise in fees. This is not about coalitions but collective and personal integrity. The lack of integrity puts those that voted for the rise, or abstained, in the same boat as Labour MP’s that broke clear promises.

    If you vote for someone who makes a clear pledge to follow a course of action you are entitled to expect them to follow it, otherwise we may as well scrap electing individuals and just vote for a party.

    Labour broke promises, made mistakes and were at the end simply [email protected]@dy awful. I expected better out of the Lib Dems.

  • Depressed Ex 5th Mar '11 - 10:56pm

    Andy Hinton

    Oh, please come off it! You know very well that the pledge on tuition fees wasn’t a “manifesto commitment.”

    Repeating a lie like this after it’s been nailed a dozen times is just sheer stupidity.

  • Nick Clegg spoke at the Welsh Liberal Democrat conference this weekend and made the following comment

    “And of course we’ve even had a Liberal Democrat celebrity flying the Welsh flag in the depths of the Australian jungle! Now that’s one forestry disaster we’re not responsible for! ”

    It is essential that Nick presents a strong and mature image in the press for the benefit of himself and the party as a whole. It is also the duty of the party leader to hold the party together and not attack other members. This was a joke that was unambiguously critical of Lembit and I am concerned about how it reflects on our leader who Lembit was supporting on LBC on Friday evening. On the same weekend that the speech was made Lembit was on a Peckham council estate canvassing in the Brunswick Park ward bye-election. This is an important contest as it is in a Labour held ward, and following the events in Barnsley it is critical for the party that we fight back hard against Labour. This is why he was requested by his team to stay in London to campaign and not to go to Wales despite the risk of potential negative comments from the leader.

    Lembit is widely acknowledged to be a true liberal and has been judged the most liberal of the most prominent Lib Dems. He was popular on the doorstep of Peckham as his profile resonates with the young, with Central and East European migrants, and with non-unionised workers. These are large and important sections of the voting population of London, and Lembit could be a real asset to the party in winning their vote. That is why we are campaigning hard on his behalf.

    Lembit’s team includes Liberal Democrat loyalists. How many jokes of this type are we expected to allow the leader to make at our teams expense before we start to make jokes at the leader’s expense ? It is difficult for the Lembit campaign team to know what to do because we are totally committed to the party. We were defending Nick Clegg on the cold council estates of South London whilst he was making a joke at our expense in the welcoming environment of the Welsh Liberal Democrat conference.

    If Nick attacks Lembit then Lembit will be expected to attack Nick and the press will say the party is split. This is not the case – the party is united. Lembit’s team realise that the party must remain strong. They have requested that he takes these shots and does not respond, and that he continues to state in public his loyalty to the leader.

    To quote Benjamin Franklin “If we do not hang together we will hang separately”

    Ed Joyce
    Campaign Manager
    Lembit 4 London

  • Ed The Snapper 5th Mar '11 - 11:36pm

    Building a new economy out of the ashes of the old!!!!!!!!!????? It will be the same old economc policy that has endured for decades: privatise as much as possible, rely on service sectors not manufacturing, low wages, unpaid interns, unemployment in the millions, underemployment in the millions, cheap imports from repressive low-wage nations, big corporations with tremendous influence. The same old same old.

  • Simon McGrath 6th Mar '11 - 12:15pm

    @ed joyce
    Glad that Lembit is helping in Southwark, but there have been over a dozen by electiosn in london since he announced he was trying to become mayor. where was he for them?
    Really the time to start compaining that Clegg is making a joke about Lembit is when he stops making a fool of himself.

    ps – has he stopped appearing on Iranian TV yet?

  • I see no Iceberg 6th Mar '11 - 1:17pm

    “If you really think that a junior partner in a coalition failing to deliver one of their more expensive manifesto commitments”

    If there’s one thing that infuriates me it’s this basic misunderstanding of how negotiations work and how this coalition works.

    It doesn’t matter if Clegg has 5 or 150 MPs keeping Cameron in a majority.
    The point is without Liberal Democrat support Cameron does not have a majority and would have to survive for weeks/months in a minority government until he delivered one Thatcherite policy too many and the inevitable no confidence motion brought him down.

    If you have something the other person needs then you are in the position of strength.
    Cameron needed a coalition or supply and demand.
    Without it his right wingers have ran riot from day 1 and almost nothing would have survived a straight up and down vote.

    Clegg didn’t need to be in government, didn’t need to form a coalition in Cameron’s image, didn’t need to form supply and demand, and didn’t need to reward Cameron for anything.

    Clegg’s was the position of strength, not Cameron.
    You can argue about the Lib Dems being a minor Party till you are blue in the face, but in the real world how many MPs FPTP delivered was irrelevant. The bottom line was Clegg didn’t need Cameron, Cameron needed Clegg to keep him in power.

    Everything that has happened since May has flowed from the inability to grasp that one fact.
    Complaining about Nick’s personal choices for red lines after the fact is pretty pointless.
    But denying he always had the power to make them is even more futile.
    The one red line that should have been drummed into Clegg at the start of the negoatiations (and I suspect was by older and wiser Party hands like Kennedy) was that whatever compromises or position you decide to take, you are not bigger than the Party and 5 years of power is not bigger than the Party. If you destroy the Liberal Democrats reputation, cause a split and doom any future chances at the ballot box for a generation then that is self-evidently the one red line that must NEVER be crossed.

    Put simply Clegg will have been told whatever you do don’t do anything that could ruin the Liberal Democrats or inevitably cause a split in the Liberal Democrats for a brief taste of some limited power.

    Some will think that is exactly what Clegg has done by his own personal choice of style and compromises.
    Some will point to the far more in touch Lib Dem activists tabling some much needed sanity, in the form of rebuking the Thatcherite NHS reforms, and whether this virtual shouting in the face of Clegg’s ruling clique to wake up, will even register.

    If Lib Dem activists had shown up while Clegg is on a skiing holiday might Nick have finally paid attention? Because going by that sorry excuse for a speech he simply refuses to get it and is far more interested in keeping best friends with David Cameron than fighting for every vote and council seat in May.

  • John Fraser 6th Mar '11 - 4:33pm

    Couldn’t read the whole speech mark but is shows an bullyish immaturity in a Party leader if he makes jokes at one of his former MPs expense (I.e. lembit opic) which you reported to be the case. From what I could read Clegg seriously believes he is doing a pretty good job and has no need to change.

    Who is going to be brave enough in the Lib Dems to stand up as in the ‘Emperors new Clothes’ and say to Clegg..that his policies and leadership is leaving the party ‘Stark Naked’ of all of the principles on which it was founded. Sadly it appears most in my former party are simply hiding their heads in teh sand .

  • Depressed Ex 6th Mar '11 - 9:43pm

    can we actually discuss this article

    Well, you could have done, but unfortunately you’ve used up nearly all of your comment blah blah blahing about tuition fees!

  • David Allen 6th Mar '11 - 9:55pm

    ISNI,

    Of course you’re right. Clegg was in a position of strength and could have got a much better deal. The question is, why didn’t he?

    I think there are two explanations. One is simply the appeal to self-interest. Osborne, who wanted to pay “the top price for the Turkish carpet”, knew its importance. How many times have we, in the past, solemnly sworn that we would put policies and principles ahead of government jobs in any coalition negotiation? And what did we actually do when we got the chance? We took loads of government jobs and ditched the principles. That’s what has brought on-side people like Cable, Huhne, and Featherstone, who are now deep into their red boxes, entranced by all the little changes they can influence in their new jobs, at risk of being blind to the bigger picture.

    The second explanation is simpler. Clegg just didn’t want to press for more Lib Dem influence over policy. He was happier adopting the Tory line.

    No doubt Vince will object some day, just as soon as he has resolved that fascinating issue on bank lending reserve frequency call-off options, oh and the one about oligopolistic market media trading standards enforcement, or whatever…

  • Daniel
    Posted 5th March 2011 at 8:05 pm | Permalink
    “@Daniel: 2001 Labour Manifesto: “We will not intro­duce ‘top-up’ fees and have leg­is­lated to pre­vent them.”

    “I’m not going to defend every dot and comma of the Labour government’s record – but if you really think that promising fees of £1000 and then raising them to £3000, compares to promising no fees atall before raising them to £9000; that a totemic pledge compares to a bog-standard manifesto commitment; and that it’s OK for a party who made “new politics” and “no more broken promises” to end up acting like just another political party – then I don’t know what to tell you”

    When exactly did Labour promise tuition fees of even £1,000 – was it in the 1997 Labour Party manifesto?

    Also aren’t tuition fees currently £3,300?

  • @Dave Page

    “the national media narrative is against us”

    I just don’t see this at all but what I do see is the people (the democratic voice) against the LD party for the Tory led policies that are being backed; you need to understand that the insignificant scraps of LD policies that the Tories have allowed you to introduce will not wash with good old Joe Public.

    This coalition will set the LD party back years; I just hope this worthless and destructive power was worth it.

    Blah blah blah etc

  • @Dave Page
    If people stop trying to pretend the pledge was a manifesto commitment then others would be able to stop pointing out their error. Perhaps a look at the order of the comments would help you point your blah blahs in the right direction.

    Back on topic two speeches, two elections where previous coalitions have existed and no criticism of Tory policies. A de facto electoral pact? Or are only Labour, Plaid, SNP votes to be sought?

  • Lost Lib Dem 7th Mar '11 - 10:13am

    Talk about spinning a speech – a paragraph for every sentence.

    I dont know if it is the style or what, but I found this speech just a big turn-off. I think the problem is that whatever Nick Clegg writes or says now it is seen as insincere and I am automatically suspicious of any claims about solar panels, spearheading plans in Cardiff, etc. If I think like this, I worry about the perception of the Welsh electorate.

  • Nick Clegg: “we’re making the rich pay their fair share of tax” CBI today saying 50% tax rate too high and is a disincentive to business. No doubt the rate will fall for the top earners. What then Mr Clegg?

  • Interesting views on Nick from Tory activists.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12658832

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