Nick Clegg’s message to Labour YES supporters


Video also available on YouTube, with thanks to Norwich Lib Dems.

Nick Thornsby’s already posted the transcript of Nick Clegg’s speech at an AV rally in Norwich on Saturday.

The section of the speech that particularly caught my eye was Nick’s message to Labour’s supporters of the Alternative Vote, in which he emphasises the shared progressive history of Labour and the Liberal Democrats:

I am a believer in the new politics – that people from across the political divide can work together for the national good.

It is no shock to anyone for me to say relations between myself and the Labour Party are often strained. But I am glad that Ed Miliband and the reformers in the Labour Party are campaigning for a Yes vote.

There is a proud history of progressive politics in the Labour Party just as there is in the Liberal Democrats. A Yes vote would be a victory for progressive politics.

I know I am not exactly every Labour supporter’s favourite politician right now, to put it mildly, but if they will hear me out I would like to say this:

This change will outlast David Cameron, Ed Miliband and myself. You have a chance to make a real, progressive change to our democracy – don’t miss this chance to take it. There are those in the Labour Party who oppose AV. They are trying to block progress.

The John Prescotts, David Blunketts, John Reids and Michael Martins are in the bizarre situation of fighting a campaign that gets the vast majority of its funding from big Tory donors they have always criticised. Labour No campaigners are the means to conservative ends.

You can also watch excerpts from the Q&A session at the Norwich event on YouTube.

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25 Comments

  • ‘Labour No campaigners are the means to conservative ends.’

    I think that the current Lib Dem leader referring to anyone as a means to a Conservative end is perhaps not the best idea right now.

  • Having been out canvassing for the past 4 weeks it is clear to me that many labour supporters could have been persuaded to support electoral reform. The role of Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems in forming a centre right coalition has however made it all but impossible to get enough of them to vote yes to AV. Labour supporters could still swing it but I suspect it is now a lost cause.

  • Quite frankly the best thing Nick Clegg could to do encourage Labour supporters to vote “Yes” would be to keep quiet and stay out of sight for the next nine days. In fact I thought that was meant to be the strategy, but perhaps he’s simply incapable of doing so.

  • Wow! Clegg was right on the money there! Wonder of Labour are gonna understand what he’s saying.

  • @Duncan

    Doesn’t mean he’s not right. Some may call it the pot calling the kettle black, but, of course the kettle (Prescott et al) is black, even if the pot (Clegg) is as well.

    I do find it funny how the more tribal breed of Labour supporters support a campaign bankrolled and enthusiastically advocated by the Tories in order to attempt to punish Clegg for … supporting the Tories. For Christ’s sake, that just makes no sense at all! What kind of broken logic is that? Clegg is not exactly my own favourite politician at the moment and I’m eagerly awaiting the next leader of the Lib Dems but why on earth would you support the Tories to punish someone for supporting the Tories? It’s just lunacy.

  • Well I am quite sure we will get plenty of responses from the ‘Tribe’. They want to get Clegg, he did the dirty deed, he naively believed the Tories could be trusted, he even believed that what he was doing was in the best interests of the Country. What a fool!!
    Don’t expect the Labour ‘trolls’ to act any differently, they will vote NO, after all in their eyes Clegg is a far greater ‘demon’ than Cameron. Cameron and his sidekick Osbourne are predictable, they will act only in the best interests of the class they represent.

  • Andrew Suffield 26th Apr '11 - 9:08pm

    he naively believed the Tories could be trusted

    Trusting the Tories would have been letting them take a minority government on their own and then calling a second election to secure a majority. That’s not what he did. Clegg put the Tories where he could stop their excesses and even do some good.

    The Tory party promised us tax cuts for rich people. Clegg got that turned into tax cuts for poor people.

    The Tory party promised us unlimited tuition fees and none of those unsightly poor people on our university campuses. Clegg got tuition fees capped, and kept them at £1k/year for new undergrads from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    I’m not fond of everything the coalition government has done, but a Tory government would have been a disaster. We don’t have one of those, and who do you have to thank for that? It’s certainly neither the Tories, nor Labour.

  • “The Tory party promised us unlimited tuition fees and none of those unsightly poor people on our university campuses.”

    I suppose making stuff up like this is easier than producing a reasoned argument, but – if I can offer a word of advice – it’s more effective if the stuff you make up isn’t quite so obviously untrue.

  • Worrying signs of a narrative emerging here that if the AV referendum fails then it will be the fault of Labour. Not, of course, the dishonest campaigning from yes to av, the no campaign is of course more dishonest, but why take the moral high ground when you can wallow in the filth. Nor will it be the fault of Nick Clegg and lib dem ministers for a long series of blunders and capitulations, not to mention the egregious tuition fees pledge.

    For what it’s worth, in Scotland I’ve got a feeling that most people will vote ‘yes’, they are also relishing the prospect of giving the Lib Dems a hammering, which is perhaps a little unfair on Tavish Scott, who seems quite sincere when he distants himself from his party in Westminster. But that’s the advantage on having a proportional electoral system, you can separate single issues from the punishment you want to inflict on parties.

  • conservative 27th Apr '11 - 10:36am

    I sometimes feel that the Liberal Democrats don’t like us very much – while the insults to Labour are a bit like a marital spat but one day you will be back together the ones concerning the Conservatives are always so full of vitriol. How can you argue that coalition govt is good when you only seem to really form up with one party? What you really want to say is left wing govt is good and therefore shaft the tories at every opportunity.

    It does make me sad sometimes because there were things we could agree about (before you were eviscerated at the local elections)…

  • Red Rag has it in one: vote no to AV and kick start the end of the coalition.

  • On what evidence did someone think that Nick was the best person to pitch a message to Labour voters?

  • I also have to say that the local Lib Dem leaflets attacking Labour in quite brutal, and inaccurate, fashion probably make it quite difficult to dissociate the AV campaign from party politics. Which is a shame. For what it’s worth the Labour, SNP, Tory and Green leaflets focus more on the contribution they want to make to the local area than portraying the other parties as evil warmongers.

  • It’s a pity, but voting Yes in the referendum will feel very much like giving Mr Clegg my vote. I did that a year ago (I believed what he said pre-election), I just don’t think I can bring myself to do it.

  • So the very same person who only the other day was willing to tell No Labour supporters that they are just part of a right wing clique is now touting for their votes – has Clegg got any idea at all what he is doing in this campaign?

    @Hywel you are spot on!

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Apr '11 - 4:15pm


    Having been out canvassing for the past 4 weeks it is clear to me that many labour supporters could have been persuaded to support electoral reform. The role of Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems in forming a centre right coalition has however made it all but impossible to get enough of them to vote yes to AV.

    Which, of course, is really stupid. One of the reasons we have the current coalition and Clegg is weak in it is that the FPTP electoral system made it the only viable one (apart from a Conservative-Labour coalition). If AV had been in place, there would have been more LibDem MPs and fewer Conservative MPs, with the result that Clegg’s bargaining position would have been much stronger.

    Many people say they are voting “No” to AV to punish Clegg for what they feel is his weakness in the coalition. But how ridiculous is that? The main argument the “No” camp gives is that FPTP weakens third parties and that that is a thoroughly good thing. By voting “No” to AV you are saying it’s good that third parties should be weakened so that government is mostly just by one party, even if that party doesn’t really have majority support in the country. If that’s your position, then your position now should be that Cameron’s Conservatives should be governing alone. The natural corollary to voting “No” to AV is that your main complaint against Clegg ought to be that he has ANY influence. The FPTP idea says that Cameron won the most seats therefore he won and no other parties should be involved in government.

    Therefore, anyone voting “No” to AV to punish Clegg for his weakness is voting FOR the very thing they say they are against. It is like voting BNP because you think the LibDems have not done enough to moderate Conservative immigration policy. It is daft, it is hypocritical, it achieves the opposite of what it supposedly intends, it is typical of the mentality of much of the Labour Party, and it illustrates why I could never be a member of that party.

  • Andrew Suffield 27th Apr '11 - 7:10pm

    I suppose making stuff up like this is easier than producing a reasoned argument, but – if I can offer a word of advice – it’s more effective if the stuff you make up isn’t quite so obviously untrue.

    Sadly for you, the evidence is a part of the public record. The Browne review is right there and was developed with the full support of the Tories. Unlimited tuition fees and wealth-based university admissions was their policy.

    Red Rag has it in one: vote no to AV and kick start the end of the coalition.

    It’s not likely to end the coalition, but it is somewhat likely to ensure the next government is a Tory majority. That’s what you want, right?

  • @Matthew

    If AV had been in place, there would have been more LibDem MPs and fewer Conservative MPs, with the result that Clegg’s bargaining position would have been much stronger

    It’s funny how many LibDems on here have been arguing that they want AV but are not interested in any party advantage that they may just get….

    The No arguments have been dubious at times but the Yes side seem to be going down in a sea of muddle.

  • Sorry Andrew S

    I just don’t buy the argument that the LDS are limiting Conservative damage. Not from where I am sitting. There are vicious unmandated privatisatisaitons and dismantling of the public sector. This is being enabled by the Liberal Democrats. Why would the Conservatives have necessarily got a majority in a second election ? Let them stand on the real policies and positions they have declared now. They would not have won.

    Attacking Labour and other voters who feel very betrayed (which only a few Liberal Democrats acknowledge on LDV) and that they question LD motives in proposing AV when LDs quite clearly most prefer Proportional Representation is not right. The LDs arguing for something that you appear not to believe in, just makes people question what the LDs get out of it and it makes the LDs appear to look unprincipled – acting for their own narrow self interest – this on the back of the betrayal of the General Election position.

    Don’t blame those that don’t chose to vote for the LD position, or question the LD integrity. The lack of success of the pro AV campaign is in part directly related to LD actions in government. Who’s fault is that ? The LDs must be accountable for their actions. Don’t blame others for what the LDs have had control over.

    It could all have been so different. It is such a waste of all the activists hard work over the years.

    Jack Timms

  • Barry George 27th Apr '11 - 10:10pm

    It’s a pity, but voting Yes in the referendum will feel very much like giving Mr Clegg my vote. I did that a year ago (I believed what he said pre-election), I just don’t think I can bring myself to do it.

    Sadly I have come to the same conclusion. After voting Liberal all these years I have removed my support.

    AV is clearly a fairer system but this coalition has shown me that this party can be trusted to stand up for itself or its principles in Government.

    We will have a fairer voting system one day. We can convince the public that the system needs to change and when that times come I will run to the voting booths to vote for it…But not whilst Mr Clegg is leader.

    I wouldn’t even give him 5 mins with my TV remote. Hell will have to freeze over before I reverse my position and stop phoning and speaking to everyone I know in a passionate plea to vote NO in the referendum.

    To think that I will actually be voting on the same side as the Tories ! I never thought that would happen in my life, but that is sad and sorry situation I find myself in.

    Please accept my apologies to all the hard working Lib Dems on the ground. You deserve better and I strongly wish that I could give you my vote.

    I have reincarnated Mr Blair’s ‘poodle’ label, it now firmly belongs to Mr Clegg…

  • Barry George 27th Apr '11 - 10:17pm

    That should of course read…

    this party can’t be trusted to stand up for itself or its principles in Government.

    🙂

  • Stuart Mitchell 27th Apr '11 - 10:47pm

    Andrew Suffield: “Sadly for you, the evidence is a part of the public record. The Browne review is right there and was developed with the full support of the Tories.”

    Browne’s review was independent, the Tories were under no obligation to support any of it.

    A year ago the Lib Dems were busily telling us that the Tories were planning to charge £7,000 pa and that this would be a Terrible Thing. What a relief we ended up with the Lib Dems in coalition so they could use their influence to reduce the Tories’ planned fees by, er, MINUS £2,000 pa.

    On tax they have indeed delivered tax cuts for the poor – along with tax increases for the poor as well. Remember also that it is coalition policy, as soon is is practical, to slash inheritance tax and top-rate income tax – all of which will make those “tax cuts for the poor” look like very small beer indeed.

  • “On what evidence did someone think that Nick was the best person to pitch a message to Labour voters?”

    Yes! And equally, for what reason did Ed Miliband think that he personally (and not just some minor functionary) should take the lead in telling Nick he was not the best person to pitch the AV message?

    In truth, there is a simple message which both of these tribal politicians have pitched to the voters at large. That message is “Our little spat is more important than the reform of our electoral system, which may just have to go hang.”

  • toryboysnevergrowup 28th Apr '11 - 9:49am

    “Labour Yes supporters message to Nick Clegg” – could you please stay a million miles away from any Labour supporters on this one, your attacking those Labour politicians who support the no campaign on the grounds you do, rather than concentrating on the positve case fro AV will make things more diffcult rather than easier.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 28th Apr '11 - 9:53am

    @David Allen
    “Yes! And equally, for what reason did Ed Miliband think that he personally (and not just some minor functionary) should take the lead in telling Nick he was not the best person to pitch the AV message?”

    My have been something to do with LibDems not being to keen to put him on their own election leaflets and his personal ratings in the polls – as a guess.

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