Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: Sticking to the task

The letter is much more interesting than its uninspiring title. A very personal tribute to Andrew Stunell, standing down as MP for Hazel Grove in 2015  and praise for Lisa Smart, who was this week  selected to fight the seat. The underlying theme is that Liberal Democrats are anchoring Britain in the liberal centre ground while the other parties lurch to left and right. 

The personal stuff about Andrew and Lisa made me think that it would be good if, over the next few months, he highlighted the successes of some of our local councillors as well as parliamentary candidate as we head towards the local elections next year. 

libdem letter from nick clegg

On Thursday I had the great pleasure of joining our new candidate for Hazel Grove, Lisa Smart, on the campaign trail, visiting a children’s centre to talk about childcare and our new plans for free school meals. She’s one of a growing number of great candidates who’ve been selected and are now gearing up to take our message to the voters in 2015.

Lisa will have big shoes to fill when, as we hope, she replaces Andrew Stunell as the MP for this beautiful part of Stockport. Andrew has been a close colleague since I was elected in 2005, was a key part of the negotiating team that brought Liberal Democrats into Government for the first time in eighty years, and is second to none in his campaigning nous and dedication to his patch. And as if that wasn’t enough, he knows more than pretty much anyone about building regulations!

Andrew will be sorely missed in Hazel Grove and in Westminster, but Lisa will be an absolutely brilliant successor. She’s a charity chief executive, a local school governor, a volunteer at Stockport Credit Union and a passionate campaigner for local people. I can’t wait to welcome her to the green benches in the House of Commons – though my first piece of advice will be to spend as much time out of Westminster as possible!

We need more MPs like Lisa elected in 2015 to make sure Britain stays on the right track.

The party conference season confirmed it: Labour lurched to the left with plans for 1970s style price controls that could lead to 1970s style blackouts. And the Conservatives lurched to the right, threatening jobs by putting Britain’s place in Europe into doubt and planning to cut spending on public services well beyond what’s needed, even once the budget’s balanced again. The last thing the country needs is a majority government from either of these parties.

Only with the Liberal Democrats in government can you be sure the country will remain anchored in the liberal centre ground: building a stronger economy and a fairer society. Finishing the job, but finishing it fairly. We are your guarantee Britain won’t lurch to left or right, but stick to the most important task of all – building a society where finally everyone, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, is given the chance to live the life they want to lead.

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Don’t forget you can catch up with all Nick Clegg’s past Letters from the Leader on LibDemVoice by clicking on this link.

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

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  • Oh for goodness sake – Archibald Sinclair, Leader of the Liberal Party was in the Cabinet in 1945. That was not 80 years ago. Liberals were in the coalition National Government under Ramsey McDonald, that was not 80 years ago.
    Oh for a party leader who took just a little time to get the facts straight.

  • Given 70% of the electorate want to renationalise the utility companies “liberal centre” would appear to mean adopting policy positions deemed acceptable to the right-wing press.

  • Clegg also clearly needs to study the 70s and the context of the times a bit more. Not too much wrong with a bit of 70s economics! It was after that, with, among others, Nick Clegg’s mentor, Leon Brittan, where things started going severely wrong.

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Oct '13 - 5:25pm

    My heart agrees with everything he says when he talks about the centre-ground, but then I look at the policies and I see us sticking ourselves to the global establishment like conservatives. We should not rebel for the sake of it, but there is much to be unhappy about.

  • @Tim13

    “Not too much wrong with a bit of 70s economics!”Yes, what a great economic era it was…


    Well, it was 82 years ago when Liberals last joined a peace time coalition (79 at the time of forming the current), so I’d say that saying 80 is fair enough. Also, the Churchill War Ministry. I suppose you could say Liberals were invited in through courtesy and having a unified government a time of crisis. So yes, technically you may well be right, but then again history is matter of interpretation 🙂

    @Helen Tadcastle

    Can see what you mean, though HQ is pushing the million jobs and income tax cut lines hard. Would be more worried if the leadership were saying we could win outright our be the opposition, a bit of open sanity in political communications isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


    I bet if it was put the public in the form of “Do you want politicians running XYZ” then we would get a different result!

  • I don’t normally agree with Helen Tedcastle, but this time I think she’s got a point. While we are sadly trailing at 10% in the opinion polls it seems absurd to be talking about what we would do if we had a majority, but it has to be in there as an aspiration because we need to be telling people what a Liberal Democrat Britain would look like.

    The danger is, as with tuition fees, that what we would hope to do with a majority gets confused with what we can do with our actual number of MPs. The gulf between the two is a big and dangerous one, as we have found out, much to our cost since 2010.

  • Andrew Noblet 7th Oct '13 - 10:38am

    The centre seems to be occupied already. Neither left nor right but ahead!

  • Nigel Jones 7th Oct '13 - 2:44pm

    Oh for a rallying cry based on what we really believe in; like a Fairer Economy and a Stronger Society ( note the order of my words). Lets move away from a trickle down economic policy and stir people to aim for an economy that both trains, involves and rewards people at the lower end much more. Lets encourage people to work together, helping each other and respecting differences, seeing others for their potential to help rather than a threat; unity with diversity.
    Lets encourage patnerships between local or national governments, volunteers and the people to care for the elderly, sick and disadvantaged. Lets have real localism where local government and communities have the resources to do what is appropriate for them; the evolving politics of identity (as Vince calls it) requires less centralised government. Lets have an Education system that is truly flexible enough to cater for each person’s needs and does not divide people into vocational or academic and where local authorities have the means to give necessary social support. Lets have a training system that gets employers to play their part, rather than treating people as job fodder alone. Lets have a transport system that is truly integrated, green and serves everyone well, not just the big cities. Lets have a framework of civil liberties, human rights and responsibilities that encourages all to give of their best wherever they can. Lets have local communities where people do their little bit without waiting for authorities to do it all. AND SO ON
    Idealistic ? Yes; but we need these ideals if we are to stir people to vote for us; it will put off those who do not share these ideals, but the ideal of respect for difference may well convince some. Just talking about the centre ground may be a good tactic to guide us in our strategy but it is a useless concept for stirring people to support us.

  • Nigel Jones 7th Oct '13 - 2:48pm

    I must add one more vital ideal. Lets be concerned for what is going on across the EU and across the globe.

  • Simon Banks 7th Oct '13 - 5:48pm

    Caracatus is of course quite right about Archibald Sinclair. Worth noting, though, that the Liberals under Ramsay Macdonald were not representing their party, but were in effect the Liberal equivalent of Macdonald’s Labour “traitors”. Worth remembering that period because the experience marked both the Liberal and the Labour parties.

    Strictly speaking, of course, 2010 marked the first time Liberal Democrats had ever been in government, since Sinclair was a Liberal.

    What worries me about Nick’s letter is wondering what Andrew Stunell has done to annoy him. After all, the last time Nick was that enthusiastic in praise of a colleague, the colleague was Steve Webb, about whom Nick had a couple of years earlier made some decidedly negative comments to Danny Alexander when he didn’t know he was being recorded.

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