Nick Clegg’s #ldconf speech: read it in full here

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A hoarse-sounding Nick has just started adressing the Lib Dems’ spring conference in Birimingham. Here’s what he’s saying …

Shall I tell you the one phrase that bothers me more than any other? It’s this. “That’s just the way things are”.

No.

The way things are is not the way they have to be. We do not have to live in a country where the poorest pay the biggest chunk of their income in tax. We do not have to live in a country where politics is the plaything of wealthy donors and corrupt MPs. We do not have to live in a country where the banks can profiteer at the expense of everybody else and our climate is in jeopardy. We do not have to live in a country where children’s chances are determined more by their parents’ background than by their own hopes and dreams.

There is a better way.

Imagine instead a primary school with classes of just 20 pupils. Imagine being able to take home the first £10,000 you earn completely free of income tax. Imagine a generation of young people finding work in thriving local manufacturing companies. Imagine being able to sack corrupt MPs instead of just shouting at them on TV. Imagine knowing your vote counts.

Imagine it.

These are not dreams. They are ambitions. Our ambitions. And they are ambitions which can come true if we do things differently.

But we will never do things differently as long as the job of governing this country remains a game of pass-the-parcel between the two old parties. For 65 years now we have had Labour and Conservative governments. First the blue team. Then the red. Then blue, then red, and yet nothing really changes. The same old promises, always broken.

No wonder people feel let down. No wonder people feel they shouldn’t expect too much. The old parties have drained our ambition to do things differently. They seem to say: we’ve been in charge for decades – don’t now start hoping for more. That’s just the way things are. No.

This year’s election is a huge opportunity. Everybody knows, in their heart of hearts, that we need real change. Everybody knows that the way we got here is not the way out.

The time to believe in our ambitions starts today The time to do something different in politics. The time to fight for a fairer Britain. The time to bring real change. It starts today. Change that works for you.

Something really important has been happening in our politics for years. Something big – but gradual – so you wouldn’t notice it from day to day. There is a vast and growing army of people who look at the two old parties and say “no thanks.” People who, like me, like you, want something different.

In 1951, only 2% of voters chose someone other than Labour or the Conservatives. At the last general election, it was 32%.

Now, a gimmick here, or a lucky break there may boost Labour or Conservative poll ratings for a few weeks or months, but it cannot, and will not reverse the trend. Who seriously believes that the British people, offered so much choice in every aspect of our daily lives, will ever again settle for a two-party system? If you have two parties, you only ever have two ideas. Actually that’s on a good day. Most of the time they can’t even rustle up a single good idea between them.

Labour: the party of the many. The many disasters. You know their new slogan: a future fair for all. If that sounds familiar, that’s because they’ve used it before. Seven years ago. Well based on what’s happened since then: it isn’t a slogan – it’s a warning.

It’s like advertising a second trip on the Titanic. Gordon Brown’s unsinkable economy.

As for the Conservatives: the world’s first offshore political party. It used to be a British party. Now it’s a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lord Ashcroft, a man who collects tax havens the way some people collect beer mats. How can David Cameron claim to clean up politics, when he can’t even clean up his own party chairman? The label still says Made in Britain, but the money says Made in Belize .

With these two old parties, it is a dismal choice between the party of the few and the party of no-one. A choice between the wrong direction and backwards. They haven’t noticed people are tired of being told there are only two answers to every question.

They haven’t noticed people are ready for something new. Ready for something different. And ready to make it happen.

We have had a great weekend. Coming together, here in Birmingham to vote through the four big promises that will be the heart of our manifesto:

  • Fair taxes that put money back in your pocket.
  • A fair start at school for every child.
  • A fair economy: protecting and creating jobs by reforming the banks and investing in a green future.
  • And a fair deal for you from politicians, cleaning up and clearing out the rotten old system.

We have been rigorous in focusing ourselves on these four pledges. We understand that the days of shopping list manifestos are over. The economic and financial circumstances mean we must choose. To focus on what is essential, and not promise more than we can afford. The party which will win the argument during this General Election will be the party which strikes the right balance between generosity and restraint, hope and realism, spending and saving.

That is why I make no apology in stating bluntly that we will never take risks with the public finances. Whether we like it or not, we will have to fix the mess Gordon Brown has made. Without sanity in spending, we won’t be able to protect our public services. We won’t be able to give our brave troops the equipment and support they so desperately need in Afghanistan. We won’t be able to provide the fairness we want for all.

The question facing us is not whether to cut the deficit. It is how and when.

Everyone who’s ever cut back a tree knows there are many ways to do it. You can cut back badly and kill the tree. Or you can do it in a way that helps the tree to flourish in the future. Encouraging growth in a new direction. So as we reduce the deficit we must cut in a way that does not make the country less fair, or less green. That does not jeopardise front line services in the NHS and schools we all depend on. And does not choke off recovery.

Labour is in denial about the need for cuts. This week Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown confirmed the pre election budget won’t include any more details on how to bring the deficit under control. No courage. No honesty. Just a miserable attempt to save their own skins.

Meanwhile the Conservatives have started to make threats. David Cameron, George Osborne and Ken Clarke marched into the City of London the other day and declared that if voters didn’t give them the result they want, the markets would tear the house down. Cynical. Desperate. The Tories think they’re entitled to victory – the moment they feel it slipping from their grasp, they start lashing out. It’s a political version of a protection racket: do what we want, or else.

Liberal Democrats are, I believe, the guarantor of good sense. After all, we are the party of Vince Cable. We are the guarantor – whatever the outcome of the election – that no risks will be taken with Britain ’s financial position. Liberal Democrats have gone further than any political party in identifying cuts – we will be setting out a programme of savings of £15bn a year by 2012. From ending government contributions to Child Trust Funds to removing the top 20% of claimants from the tax credit system. From cancelling the ID card programme to abolishing the Government Offices for the Regions.

We have put together, line by line, the most substantial and deliverable programme of deficit reduction in British politics. And we have taken the bold step of cutting back, dramatically, our proposals for new spending. Postponing ideas that have long been close to our hearts but which are not immediately affordable. So we can put two thirds of the money we save straight into reducing the deficit.

It is the first time in our history that Liberal Democrats have ever set out a plan for net reductions in government spending. But I am the first to admit that it does not go far enough. There will be more to do, and we will have to find these savings together, as a nation. Our plan is a down payment – a declaration of intent. Your guarantee that Liberal Democrats are putting Britain ’s financial future at the heart of our plans for government.

People often ask me what the Liberal Democrats will do after the General Election. I’m flattered that people think I can predict the future. The newspapers certainly think they can.

Some days I read we’re planning a deal with Labour. Some days that we’re planning a deal with the Conservatives. Other days that we’ll refuse to talk to anyone at all.

Yet, when all the speculation is said and done, I keep coming back to some simple truths:

I am not the kingmaker. The 45 million voters of Britain are the kingmakers. They give the politicians their marching orders, not the other way round. It’s called democracy – and I kind of like it.

Almost 1 in 4 voters chose the Liberal Democrats at the last election. If that increased to 1 in 3, we could lead the next government.

This election is a time for voters to choose, not a time for politicians to play footsie with each other.

The party which gets the strongest mandate from the voters will have the moral authority to be the first to seek to govern. And voters are entitled to know what Liberal Democrats will do – in whatever situation we find ourselves in.

This weekend we’ve given the answer:

We will give you fairer taxes.

We will make sure your child gets the fair start in life they deserve.

We will create a new, fair economy where we are no longer held hostage by the greed of bankers in the City of London .

And we will give you a fair, open and transparent politics after the gross betrayal of the expenses scandal.

It really is as simple as that.

No-one can guarantee what the election result will be. But I can guarantee what we will always fight to deliver.

And if you like what we say. If you share our values. If you want fair taxes, a fair start in life for your child, a fairer economy, and a new, fair politics.

Vote for it.

Tax: One of the biggest changes we offer is to your tax bill. My philosophy on tax is simple. A fair tax system is one that rewards hard work, enterprise and initiative. It penalises pollution and other threats to the common good. It bears down on unearned wealth. That is what we will deliver.

Under the Liberal Democrats, no-one will pay tax on the first £10,000 they earn.

Let me repeat that: Because this is one of the most substantial changes to tax that a party has ever offered at a General Election. Under the Liberal Democrats, no-one will pay tax on the first £10,000 they earn.

We’re not talking about tinkering or tweaking. We’re talking about fundamental, substantial and irreversible reform. Under the Liberal Democrats, no-one will pay tax on the first £10,000 they earn. 3.6 million people will be freed from paying tax altogether. Tens of millions more on low and middle incomes will get a tax cut of £700 back in their pockets.

A real change to deliver lasting tax fairness for everyone.The Conservatives may want tax cuts for millionaires. We will deliver tax cuts for millions.

But it has to be paid for. No-one is going to fall for a false promise of a giveaway. So we will make five simple, but substantial changes to pay for this tax cut.

One: Equalising pensions tax relief so top earners no longer get more than everyone else.

Two: Equalising Capital Gains Tax with Income Tax so people who make their money trading shares and properties pay the same rates as everyone else.

Three: An increase in aviation taxes.

Four: A crack down on tax avoidance.

And finally – a new mansion tax on properties worth over £2m. This is one tax even oligarchs and billionaires will not be able to avoid.

You can’t put a mansion in a briefcase and take it to Belize .

Just imagine the difference this change would make. You know anyone working full time on the minimum wage pays more than a £1000 in income tax every year? Under the Liberal Democrats, their tax bill will plummet to less than £6 a week. They’ll be £700 better off. £700 to pay for children’s school clothes, to fix the car, to pay the heating bill.

That is change that works for you.

Children: Liberal Democrats will give every child the fair start they deserve. By reducing class sizes and increasing one to one tuition in our schools. Children have to be nurtured and cherished, right from the start. Miriam and I know this as parents of three lovely little boys. We see for ourselves that what happens to our 8 and 5 year old boys in the classroom has a dramatic effect on their enthusiasm to learn and their self confidence which will shape them for the rest of their lives.

But as much as children depend on us today, we are going to depend on them for far longer. Think about a child in your local primary school, doing experiments with egg cartons and elastic bands. That child could be the inventor of a cure for cancer which saves your life thirty years from now. We don’t know what the future holds. We don’t know what our children will achieve. All we know is that our country is still not a place truly fit for them to grow up in.

Labour’s target for school achievement is to ensure that at least three out of every 10 children in a school get five good GCSEs. Imagine being in a class where just passing means you are the exception. We are teaching our children to drop their expectations. Telling them to aim low. It has to change.

Liberal Democrats are the only party promising new investment in our schools. We’ll be putting more money, £2.5 billion every year, into schools to pay for more teachers, better discipline and catch-up classes. An average primary school could cut class sizes to just 20, ensuring children starting out at school have the personal, nurturing relationship with their teacher they need. An average secondary school could put the money into catch-up classes for 160 pupils.

Making sure no child is ever left behind.

That is change that works for you.

Economy: The recession has hurt millions of families. But the problems run deeper than just the immediate crisis. For too long, a succession of Conservative and Labour Governments have been obsessed about looking after just one square mile – the City of London. It’s time to invest in the other 100,000 square miles of Britain . Creating jobs and growth that lasts for every town, city and village of this country. After the economic crisis that rocked the world. We must not rebuild the fortresses of old.

We must use this as an opportunity to build something new. Not least to ensure we can pass on to our children a planet worth living on. We now know that the next few years are probably our last chance to avert unstoppable climate change. This is not a problem, it is an emergency. It must guide everything we do as we rebalance our economy. Growth that lasts does not threaten our children’s future. It recognises that our planet is a gift that must be cherished. That tomorrow is our responsibility as much as today.

And growth that lasts does not leave an underclass behind. It brings everyone along, sharing prosperity because the more people are included the more people are enabled to seize opportunities the more prosperity there is for all.

But we cannot have a new kind of growth with the old kind of banks. It is time to break them up. Bring back competition. Bring back diversity. Bring back building societies. And until we do it we should insist that banks pay a premium on their profits to the taxpayers who have bailed them out. We will separate low risk utility banking from high risk investment finance once and for all so banks never again take insane risks which jeopardise your everyday savings.

Some people say it is impossible to split the banks like this. They’re usually – you guessed it – the bankers themselves. The governor of the Bank of England says it is not only possible but essential to break up the banks. He’s right. They’re wrong.

Only the Liberal Democrats say: The banking industry, no industry, must ever again occupy such a privileged position that it can hold a gun to the head of rest of the economy.

Never again.

But reforming the banks should not be an act of retribution. It is about getting money flowing to the thousands of businesses starved of credit today. Without support from banks, companies go bust, and the jobless remain without hope.

I was staggered when I heard that RBS, a bank we own, was lending millions of pounds to help Kraft buy Cadbury, a great Birmingham company. RBS was funding this deal which everybody knew would cost jobs in Britain … While small business customers of this very bank were being turned down for loans or charged extortionate rates. This was a scandal and Labour let it happen.

When we bailed out the banks did you ever imagine your money would be used to put British people out of work? Only Liberal Democrats say: never again.

Once the banks are lending again we can turn our attention not just to protecting jobs, but to creating new ones. In our first year in office, we will use the money from that banking levy and the money from reforming tax credits to create as many as 100,000 jobs in green industries. Kick-starting the economy on a new, sustainable footing.

I was standing in a shipyard on the Tyne just a few weeks ago.It was deserted. And I thought back to the days gone by when it would have been humming with activity. It’s heartbreaking to think of that decline. And the devastating impact it had on whole communities.

But it is inspiring to imagine these old shipyards, once the pride of Britain , coming back to life as a hub for building the vast new turbines needed for offshore wind and tidal energy. Helping to power Britain and Europe with clean, safe energy for all.

Britain used to lead the world. We built ships. We designed railways. We laid the first telegraph cables across the oceans. This is the nation of Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone. Of Isaac Newton, who made modern science possible. Of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the greatest civil engineer in history.

We have to harness that inventive spirit once again. We have been blinded for too long by the glitz of the financial services sector. Blinded to the real, solid virtue of making things. It has to change.

Under the Liberal Democrats, it will change. No longer just betting on things, we will start Britain building things again.

That is change that works for you.

Politics: But there’s something standing in the way of change. Our political system. All the pomp and ceremony of our Parliament, all the adorably daft rituals have been camouflage for corruption.

It is just plain wrong that a government elected by the votes of just 22% of people can rule however it likes. It is just plain wrong that a government can commit us to an illegal war against the will of the people. It is just plain wrong that some MPs were so out of touch with the basic principles of right and wrong that they thought it was ok to do up house after house at taxpayers’ expense, flip them and flog them off for a profit.

People say all politicians are the same. They are not. Of course, Liberal Democrats are not perfect. But no Liberal Democrat MP “flipped” their home in this way. None of our outer London MPs even claimed a second home allowance. And it was Liberal Democrats who fought Labour and Conservative attempts to keep the scandal hidden. So don’t let them tell you we are all the same because it isn’t true.

Liberal Democrats are the only party that understands expenses were just the tip of the iceberg. Our whole political system is a mess. David Cameron and Gordon Brown talk about political reform. But they won’t even contemplate the really radical changes we need.

Only Liberal Democrats will get big money and corrupt donors out of politics altogether. Change the voting system to abolish safe seats and make every vote count. Reduce the number of MPs by 150. Reverse the tide of decades of centralisation, devolve power over the police and NHS to local communities. Pass a freedom bill to protect our hard-won rights and liberties from the whims of government ministers, and give constituents the right to sack corrupt MPs.

That is change that works for you.

Four steps to a fairer Britain .

Fair taxes.

A new, fair start for all children at school.

A rebalanced, fair and green economy.

And clean, open, fair politics.

For Gordon Brown, change is what you promise when you want everything to stay the same. For David Cameron, change stops on May 7th. It’s change for him, not change for you.

We are different.

I want to warn you about something that is coming in the next few weeks. We are going to hear a nonsensical claim from the two old parties designed to scare people into voting against their best interests. The Conservatives will say: vote Lib Dem… get Brown. Labour will say: vote Lib Dem… get Cameron.

Don’t believe it for a second. They are wrong.

Vote Lib Dem get change.

Vote Lib Dem get fairness.

A vote for the Liberal Democrats is not a vote for anyone else. It is your guarantee of real change that works for you.

A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a bold commitment to hope and opportunity. It’s a vote that says: I want government to be honest and open. I want a green economy. I want fairer taxes. I want a fairer future for my children and for all our children.

I know there are many people who listen to the Liberal Democrats and really like what they hear. But you worry that your vote would be wasted. You worry that your choice won’t make enough of a difference… So you are thinking of giving your vote to someone else.

Some people are thinking of holding their noses and voting for Brown just to keep out the Conservatives. I say to you: don’t do it. Some people are thinking of holding their noses and voting for Cameron just to get rid of Labour. Don’t do it.

You have a once in a generation opportunity for real change. A wasted vote is one that throws that opportunity away. A wasted vote is one for a party that is stuck in the past. A wasted vote is one for a party you don’t believe in.

How do you want to feel when you wake up on May 7th and hear the news? Would you smile at the prospect of five more years of Gordon Brown? Would you be thrilled if a Conservative government was now in charge? If the answer is no, then don’t give them your vote. If you vote for less you will get less. If you compromise on them they will compromise on you.

Just good enough – is not good enough any more.

When you think about who to vote for remember that the future of your country is at stake. Whatever you do, do not settle for the way things are. Be demanding. Vote for what you believe in. Vote with your heart.

If you once voted Labour but have lost hope. If you once voted Conservative but don’t know what they stand for any longer. If you have given up voting altogether because nothing ever seems to change. Vote for something different this time.

Vote Lib Dem: get fairness.

Vote Lib Dem: get change.

Vote for what you believe in… or you will wake up on May 7th facing another five years of more of the same.

This is your chance. This is your opportunity – for the sake of our future, do not waste it.

Choose the Liberal Democrats.

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16 Comments

  • He might have an easier time convincing voters that the Lib Dems aren’t just like the other parties if he didn’t look and sound so exactly like them, and wasn’t pushing a four-point election campaign that is so prosaic, vapid, unimaginitive and tinkering-around-the-edges-by-the-numbers that it could easily have come from any one of them. I geninely like the trust of Nick’s politics, I just think he is really dreadful at communicating them.

  • paul barker 14th Mar '10 - 3:55pm

    Sorry, this is a complaint about another post but I cant seewhere else to go. The post is in the right column & begins – Blatant … The poster seems to beleive everything in theSunday times without any checking & gives an opening for any BNP types to come in with unsubstantiated stories. I would have complained to the poster but I am not signed up with google & dont want to be. Please have a look at this post & see what you think.

  • iainm, it is hard to reconcile your ‘I genuinely like the thrust of Nick’s politics’ with your earlier assertion that Nick’s four point plan is ‘prosaic, vapid, unimaginative and tinkering’.

    If you genuinely believe that a commitment to take the first £10,000 of earned income out of tax could have come from any of the parties you are simply deluded. If you really think that there is no difference between New Labour education policy and the LibDem pupil premium you haven’t been paying much attention to more than 12 years of New Labour education policy. If you think that Nick Clegg’s commitment to break up banks that are ‘too big to fail’ comes from the same stable as G. Brown and D. Cameron’s policies on banking reform you don’t understand the difference between radical reform and tinkering. And, if you don’t appreciate the difference between the changes Nick Clegg wants to the voting system and to parliament – compared with his main political rivals – it’s really difficult to understand why you’d find the thrust of his politics even remotely appealing.

  • Ed, what I mean is that I understand what Nick is trying to do and I broadly support it, but I think his policies are buried so deeply beneath a presentation style so precisely like that of the other two parties that I don’t think voters will even realise it. The policies can be unique all they like, but if the language being used to communicate them sounds like it comes from the same automatic political slogan generator that the other two parties use then they may as well not be. I like the specifics, I just don’t think he’s bound them together into any sort of coherent narrative, and sadly I think he personally is as bland and uninspiring a politician as I’ve ever seen.

  • Andy: identifying exactly what people are concerned about isn’t the same as convincing them you can or will do anything about it.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Mar '10 - 5:39pm

    I am disturbed to see that Nick Clegg is still claiming that primary school class sizes can be cut to 20.

    As discussed previously, the costings on this simply don’t add up. If the party’s opponents take these figures apart, they will be able to blow a huge whole in Clegg’s credibility – and I don’t think it will be hard to convince the electorate that you can’t cut class sizes by 25% by increasing the education budget by 3%.

  • iainm, a couple of points in reply:

    a. If you want to read something that brings LibDem policies and approaches together (and very much to life) then I really can recommend Why Vote Liberal Democrat (edited by Danny Alexander). I read it this weekend and it is a lively and accessible invitation to the Liberal Democrat take on politics in the UK. It has only recently been published by biteback and it costs less than £7. One of the things that makes it a good read is that Danny Alexander has managed to bring together contributions from more than twenty very different people who feel as you say you do about what ‘Nick is trying to do’. Their contributions really do add up to an interesting and persuasive – to use your word – political ‘narrative..

    b. Virtually all the Liberal Democrats I know best are uncomfortable with conventional political leadership – but they are realistic and battle hardened enough to know that political culture is rather intolerant of teamwork, desperate for ‘leadership’ and generally changes very slowly. They also know that If you start to list all the things that you might want from a great leader you are extremely unlikely to end up with all of them or even a majority of them embodied in one human being. One of the most – if not the most – effective party leaders to become Prime Minister in the last century was a Labour politician, Clement Attlee. Attlee would probably have cleaned up if there had been a political Oscar for uninspiring politicians. He was, nevertheless, a highly effective team leader for his party and for the country. For really effective politics I commend perspiration rather than inspiration and teamwork rather than soaring rhetoric. Which is not to say that I don’t like the soaring rhetoric when it comes along – I just don’t trust it to provide me with the best route map to a better society.

    Unless and until Britain’s electoral system is changed and our way of doing parliamentary and political business is radically reformed the big party leaders – and likely PMs – are almost certain to be drawn from a pretty exclusive social group. One of Nick’s recommendations is that he recognises that and genuinely wants to change it. He cannot do that by pretending to be something that he’s not. He knows that the Liberal Democrat task is to create the conditions for more representative and engaging politics. Like all of us he has to make the most of his strengths and work with others to overcome his weaknesses. I think he is making a good job of that…but readily accept that not everyone will agree with me on that.

    I know it sounds paradoxical, but liberals and democrats – who know they don’t personally embody all that they want to see in politics, including more representative political institutions and political leadership – have to make the best use of their own attributes and abilities. A Liberal Democracy’s strength really does depend on engaging its citizens – not in spawning a single ‘inspirational leader’. Liberal democracies need lots and lots of leaders inspiring their fellow citizens in many many different ways. My advice to those who want more diverse AND inspiring politics is: Make it happen. Do what you can do to: Help build a party that is capable of being more diverse, representative and inspiring.

  • Anthony Aloysius St

    You write: “I am disturbed to see that Nick Clegg is still claiming that primary school class sizes can be cut to 20.”

    Nick Clegg is not claiming that class size reductions to 20 are possible everywhere. Unfortunately complicated messages about the policy options that a well-funded pupil premium makes possible are easily misrepresented and misunderstood. I have personally heard Nick explain that the pupil premium makes class size reductions possible in schools where this is considered to be a particularly effective way of using additional educational resources – it is not an edict or a promise of a national class size reduction policy. Hope this is clear.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Mar '10 - 6:06pm

    Ed

    You should check your facts before you imply that people are misrepresenting or misunderstanding things.

    The class-size figures have been presented as what can been achieved in the _average_ school, not in a limited number of special cases:
    “An average primary school could see an extra £90,000 in its budget. Enough to cut class sizes from 27 to 20.
    In an average secondary school, they could go down to 16.”

    https://www.libdemvoice.org/nick-calls-for-schools-and-parents-to-work-together-to-give-each-child-a-fair-chance-18149.html

  • Anthony Aloysius St, I have checked. I also took great care about how I expressed myself. Pity you
    didn’t do the same.

  • David Allen 14th Mar '10 - 6:26pm

    Ed,

    Taking great care to be evasive but formally correct is not going to help us. Anthony has a point, as does iainm when he talks about presentation.

    That said – Today was certainly one of the better efforts, and I shall be delighted if Nick can continue to raise his game like this. On the presentation side, the caustic humour, e.g. “a man who collects tax havens the way some people collect beer mats”, does actually sound distinctive and different. Keep it up.

    The question Nick should keep asking himself is “could Cameron have said this?” If the answer is no, then, Nick can say it!

  • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Mar '10 - 6:29pm

    Ed

    If you were objecting to the fact that I hadn’t used the word “average” in my comment, you’d have done better just to say so. If you were trying to make some other point, I’m afraid the “great care” you took in expressing yourself was wasted, because it’s not at all apparent what you were getting at.

    Anyway, getting back to the point, Nick Clegg is clearly claiming that on average primary school class sizes could be reduced to 20, and secondary school class sizes could be reduced to 16.

    The trouble is that the costings simply don’t add up, and that is very easy to demonstrate, as has been done on the other threads. It’s going to be just as easy for the party’s opponents to demonstrate that. And it won’t need a highly technical argument to convince people the numbers don’t add up, because – I repeat – the claim is that average class sizes could be reduced by 25% by increasing the education budget by 3%.

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    […] Nick Clegg sounded a little hoarse from a sore throat throughout his leader’s speech to the Birmingham spring conference then it’s not surprising: he has been omnipresent in the […]

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