Nick Clegg’s Letter from the Leader: The insults were worth it

This is really a commercial for his keynote speech at Conference, with links to it on You Tube and to a text copy. It’s not the best title in the world. I might have preferred to highlight the new policy of free school meals for the first three years, myself. That’s not even mentioned. However, we don’t know if that’s it for this week, or whether there will be another at the weekend. 

libdem letter from nick clegg

 

Over the last few days, we’ve showcased what we’ve achieved in Coalition and we’ve demonstrated that we can make the tough decisions required in Government. But crucially, that we do so in a way that is fairer than the Conservatives would if they were governing by themselves.

And whether you were voting in the main hall or catching updates at home, there has been a fundamental shift in how our party is perceived.

We’re finally starting to get recognition for the decision we, as a party, took by going into Government. Especially at a time when the economy had suffered the biggest crash in 80 years and Labour had left us with no money to clean up the mess.

The last three years haven’t been easy, with the vitriol of our opponents and the difficult headlines.

But all those insults were worth it.

Because we’re starting to turn things around. We are seeing the first signs of economic recovery, a recovery that wouldn’t be happening without us.

There’s still a long way to go and over the next two years Liberal Democrats will focus unrelentingly on creating jobs and sustainable growth.

As I said in my speech this afternoon, we can’t trust either of the other parties to get it right by themselves. I have spent my entire life watching the other two mess it up. We cannot stand idly by and let them do it all over again.

Only the Liberal Democrats can finish the job of restoring the economy, and finish it fairly.

Best wishes,

 

Nick

PS If you missed my speech, you can read the full text here.

Do you know someone who would like to get Nick’s weekly email? Forward this post and they can sign up here: http://www.libdememails.co.uk/nick

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

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23 Comments

  • It seems even harder than usual to make sense of the English.

    Surely he means “It was worth the insults”, not “The insults were worth it”?

  • Something like “It was worth enduring the insults”.

    I find it hard to read about “restoring the economy” when the austerity seems to me like a step backwards not forwards

  • Michael Cole 22nd Sep '13 - 11:46am

    In reply to ‘Voter’ who comments “I find it hard to read about “restoring the economy” when the austerity seems to me like a step backwards not forwards”:

    It should be stressed time and time again that the painful squeeze that we are experiencing is the inevitable result of the appalling mess that Labour made of the economy.

  • Michael Cole

    You can stress it as much as you like but it doesn’t make it 100% right.

    Labour made may errors it is true but these have been added to by the mismanagement of the economy since 2010. Before you say that the economy is fixed I suggest you go back to 2010 and look at the CoE projections – we are massively behind what he said would be the case .

    The Labour Government was also repairing the appalling damage to our public services in the 80s. I grew up then and I look with envy at the standards in our hospitals and schools

    Instead of blaming the last Labour Government, take responsibility for what your own one is doing

  • Michael Cole 22nd Sep '13 - 12:16pm

    To bcrombie:

    I wasn’t going to mention it, but Liam Byrne (the outgoing Labour Treasury Secretary) said in his famous note to David Laws “There is no money left”.

    It is easy to spend money we haven’t got. Clawing back the financial deficit we inherited is difficult and painful.

    Where did I claim “that the economy is fixed” ? I never said that. It will take a long time to repair the damage; there is no quick fix as Labour suggests.

    Please give specific examples of “the mismanagement of the economy since 2010”.

  • Mike Falchikov 22nd Sep '13 - 1:04pm

    Re Liam Byrne. Yes, we all remember he said “There’s no money left”. How many people also remember his remark, during some debate about ID cards that his party were so keen on introducing – a remark unparalleled in its crassness:
    “Let’s make ID Cards a great British institution, like the railways in the 19th century.” And this man is still a top guy in the Labour Party!

  • Michael Cole

    If you are using that quote as the basis for your argument then words fail me!

    Mismanagement of the economy, which one of his targets from 2010 has be actually met, or will meet?

  • Michael Cole 22nd Sep '13 - 2:05pm

    @bcrombie

    I am not using that ‘quote’ (I assume your refer to “There’s no money left” as a basis for any argument. It was simply an admission (to his credit he was honest about it) of failure from a prominent Labour cabinet minister.

    You say “Mismanagement of the economy, which one of his targets from 2010 has be actually met, or will meet?” What does this mean ? Your failure to address my points exposes the paucity of your arguments.

    I hope that you will understand that the task of restoring our finances is painful and difficult, involving hard choices.

  • Michael Cole 22nd Sep '13 - 2:10pm

    @Mike Falchikov

    Thanks for reminding us of that !

    You quite correctly use the word “crass”. This aptly describes Labour’s ‘policies’ on the economy and much else besides.

  • @Michael Cole
    If there is no money left, then why are we talking about an attack on Syria which we presumably cannot afford?

    There are alternatives to austerity it would seem. Austerity is allowing conservatives to make the cuts that they already wanted to make for ideological reasons.

    Nick Clegg says “a recovery that wouldn’t be happening without us” but does he have any evidence that the recovery is purely down to his policies?

    Or is it just “Post hoc ergo propter hoc”?

  • Michael Cole 24th Sep '13 - 11:58am

    @Voter

    As regards Syria, your comment is not relevant. As far as I know we are not going to invade Syria. In any case, resources not spent on wars do not automatically translate into food, housing etc for the needy. In addition, you should not forget that it was a Labour government who lied to the Commons about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and subsequently invaded Iraq – a war against which Lib Dems were united in their opposition.

    What are the alternatives to ‘austerity’ ? Even Labour admits that cuts have to be made – without specifying them. The speech of Ed Balls yesterday is clear proof that Labour doesn’t have a clue about running the economy.

    It is unfair to the (sensible) Conservatives that they wish to make cuts for ideological reasons. They are not all cynical or reactionary careerists. Furthermore, it would be well to remember that Lib Dem MPs are outnumbered 5:1 by the Tories, so there is a limit to their influence.

    As regards the recovery (which is still fragile), Nick Clegg has nowhere claimed that it is “purely down to his policies” but he quite rightly claims credit for his party’s input. No, it is not a case of “post hoc ergo propter hoc”. The main purpose of the coalition was to try to repair the economy. This was clearly stated at the presentation in 2010 in the garden of No. 10. Nick was fully aware that the economic measures required were going to make the Lib Dems unpopular in the short/medium term but considered that the country’s needs were paramount. This contrasts well with the short-term popularism of Labour.

    I repeat, repairing the economy is a long, difficult and painful task.

  • @ Michael Cole
    “It should be stressed time and time again that the painful squeeze that we are experiencing is the inevitable result of the appalling mess that Labour made of the economy.”

    In 2010 the economy was recovering because of the inflationary policies of the Labour government. In the first budget of the coalition sweeping cuts were made particularly in investment. (Even Nick Clegg has accepted this was a mistake.) The coalition government increased VAT to 20% from 4th January 2011 another deflationary policy. These measures led to the decrease in growth and the negative growth. It is wrong to blame Labour for these decisions and the affects they had.

    The Coalition continues to talk about the structural deficit but there is no structural deficit and there wasn’t one because in 2007 the deficit was within the normal range of recent years and was not out of control. The deficit was large in 2010 but it didn’t need to be cut dramatically at that time. We could have followed what we promised in our manifesto and got the economy growing before reducing the deficit caused by the banking crisis. Having economic growth reduces the deficit and the lack of growth has ensured the deficit is higher than it would have been if there had been anything close to our normal growth rate.

  • Michael Cole 25th Sep '13 - 11:51am

    @Amalric

    I cannot let your comments go unanswered..

    By ‘investment’ Labour means printing money and living on short term credit. By 2010 it was obvious that they had ‘maxed’ their credit and that borrowing was at an unsustainable level. You are at least correct in stating that Labour’s policies were inflationary. But to allege that “in 2010 the economy was recovering” is nonsense. In fact, we were getting dangerously near the precipice.

    It is incontrovertible that Labour left the economy in a mess, except to blind Labour supporters who can not face reality. You may recall that poor Alistair Darling was given the fag-end of the Chancellorship and had to try to alleviate the mess that he inherited from Brown. If we had continued with Labour’s plans, living on tick, we would now be in a position of national bankruptcy. Must I repeat Liam Byrne’s message ?

    Again, your ‘deficit denial’ indicates that are not judging these matters objectively. Economic growth does not come about by chucking money at the economy. If only it were that easy.

  • @ Michael Cole
    “By ‘investment’ Labour means printing money and living on short term credit. By 2010 it was obvious that they had ‘maxed’ their credit and that borrowing was at an unsustainable level. You are at least correct in stating that Labour’s policies were inflationary. But to allege that “in 2010 the economy was recovering” is nonsense. In fact, we were getting dangerously near the precipice.

    “printing money” i.e. Quantitative Easing as advocated by the Bank of England and others including Osborne.
    “inflationary” i.e. the government pursuing policies that inflate the economy (a good thing rather than have low or negative growth as we had in 2011-12).

    The growth rate for 2010 was 1.3% much better than 2009 but following the coalition’s deflation of the economy it had fallen to 0.7% in 2011. The quarterly figures show a recovery -2.5, -0.4, 0, +0.4, +0.5, +1.0. Why do you not recognise that this means that the economy was recovering?

    There is no evidence that we were near any precipice. The National Debt is now a higher percentage of GDP so it is clear it has been possible to borrow more since the 2010 general election.

    Bill le Breton posted on this site 28th July writing, “Simon Wren-Lewis, Professor of Economics at Oxford and a force for calm thought in difficult times (states), “before the recession hit the debt to GDP ratio was slightly lower than when (Labour) took office. Of course debt rose subsequently as a result of the recession’. Here are the figures he quotes, ‘The current balance (which excludes investment spending) was -0.5% of GDP in 2006/7 and 2007/8, which is hardly a large number. Public sector net borrowing, which does include investment, was around 2.5% of GDP, which seems larger, but here zero is not the appropriate reference point. A sustainable deficit is one that leaves debt to GDP constant: to take some round numbers, if the debt to GDP ratio is to be sustained at 40%, and nominal GDP grows by 5%, we need net borrowing of 2% of GDP. So an actual deficit of 2.5% again does not seem that excessive’.”

    I am unhappy that you imply that I am a “blind Labour supporter”. I am a Lib Dem member of 25 years and voted for the Alliance before this.

    Economic growth comes about by investing in the economy. It is that easy. When there is a debt crisis and businesses can’t or won’t invest then the government has to do it or the economy collapses. For Tories this often means giving tax cuts so consumers can spend it, while others believe it would be better to say build more social housing that would give us economic growth and I believe has a bigger positive effective on the economy because a huge percentage of that type of investment is spent within the UK economy. If no money is put into the economy there will be no economic growth.

  • Michael Cole 27th Sep '13 - 2:41pm

    @Amalric

    I won’t engage in an attempt to refute your meaningless statistics. If you really believe that that “the economy was recovering” in 2010 I think you are overdue for a reality check.

    You say “it has been possible to borrow more since the 2010 general election.” Yes, this is because the coalition made a clear and credible commitment to reducing the deficit. Discipline can either be imposed by ourselves or it can be imposed from outside, as is the case with Greece.

    You say “Economic growth comes about by investing in the economy. It is that easy.” Oh Yes ? It would be great if it was that easy. Surely you realise that it depends on what kind of investment. Only long-term, sustainable investment is effective. Politicians who offer easy short-term solutions to economic problems are largely responsible for the prevalent cynicism that people have towards politics. I repeat, economic recovery is, and will continue to be, a difficult and painful process.

  • Michael Cole

    I won’t try to refute your meaningless comments

    I stopped reading when you too the Osborne line in mentioning Greece.

    You forgot the credit card analogy

    By the way how is the eliminating the deficit by 2015 as promised by your Government going?

  • Michael Cole

    My mistake, I looked at a message above and you did mention the credit card

  • Michael Cole 28th Sep '13 - 12:52am

    @bcrombie

    The financial crisis in Greece is a fact; it is nobody’s line. Anyway, this is not central to the argument. And please kindly desist from associating me with Osborne.

    To the best of my knowledge, the coalition never promised to eliminate the structural deficit by 2015. I should be grateful if you would kindly show me the source of your remark. Nick Clegg and Vince Cable (and Cameron too) were quite clear in 2010 that it would be a tough job.

    Some progress has been made in deficit reduction and there are now signs of recovery. This must be anathema to Labour.

  • @Michael Cole
    “I won’t engage in an attempt to refute your meaningless statistics.”
    The statistics I quote are not meaningless how can you expect to debate economics if you refuse to base your views on the facts? I gave you the facts to show that economic growth was improving before the 2010 General Election and soon after when it was too early for the effects of the coalition policies to bite.

    Michael Cole you argue that because the government said it would borrow less this is the reason why it could borrow more. This seems strange to me.

    I think I made clear what type of investment I preferred and I hope you do not support the coalition’s policies with regard to helping people to buy their own home (the wrong type of investment). I think now it is recognised that house prices are rising faster than they were. I hope you recognise that the Liberal Democrats believe in sustainable investment (ref green polices). Keynes said it didn’t matter what the government invested in, which is why cutting taxes and thereby increasing the deficit causes economic growth (as advocated by previous Conservative governments).

  • Michael Cole

    Response to a question and reported on CH, that most socialist of blogs

    http://s477308942.websitehome.co.uk/parliament/2010/10/george-osborne-confirms-intention-to-eliminate-deficit-by-2015-in-first-commons-clash-with-alan-john.html

    On Greece, yes it is a a fact, such as there are many facts about many things but the issue is relevance. Greece’s problems stem from a dysfunctional economy going back years and their membership of the Euro.

    Being independent in your own currency allows generation of liquidity as with QE and being able to set own interest rates. Greece hasn’t this option.

    If you want to look at analogies then compare us to other countries who are currency independent and you

  • Sorry pushed wrong button

    …will see we are not doing so well.

    I am associating you with Osborne as you are parroting his ludicrous comments. If it quacks like a duck….

    We are not following the economic policies as set out by the LD prior to 2010, before Nick of Tarsus’s conversion to Torynomics on the road to Whitehall on seeing St Mervyn appear to him ( although he insisted he had said nothing that revelatory)

  • @ bcrombie
    “We are not following the economic policies as set out by the LD prior to 2010, before Nick of Tarsus’s conversion to Torynomics on the road to Whitehall on seeing St Mervyn appear to him ( although he insisted he had said nothing that revelatory)”
    Great allegory.

  • Michael Cole 2nd Oct '13 - 12:27pm

    @Amalric & bcrombie

    Years before the 2010 GE Vince Cable warned of the necessity of deficit reduction and the dangers of borrowing and spending money on the basis of the unsustainable boom in house prices. Your allegory is unfair.

    I will agree with bcrombie that Greece’s problems have been exacerbated by their membership of the Euro.

    The metaphor of ‘maxing the credit cards’ was not invented by Osborne, so I am not “parroting” him. I have no great respect for Osborne. As long as he does and says what he is told, he has some credibility. Economic expertise or original ideas ? I think not.

    It is evident that you have closed minds about this and that rational arguments do nothing to convince you.

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