Nick Clegg’s New Year message: “2010 must be the year we press the political reset button”

In his New Year message, Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats has laid down a challenge to other party leaders to tell people what they really believe in, rather than what they think people want to hear.

Here’s the full text of Nick’s message:

I have a confession to make: 2009 tested my belief in politics to breaking point.

I remember once looking round the House of Commons during another Punch and Judy session of Prime Ministers Questions. In the real world, youth unemployment had just reached its highest level ever, our brave soldiers were facing extraordinary dangers in Afghanistan, the bankers were still gorging themselves on bonuses, and the economy was in the middle of the worst recession in generations. And what were the politicians doing? Yelling and guffawing at each other as if the world outside didn’t exist.

So I don’t blame anyone for feeling a sense of despair about our clapped out political system. You are being taken for granted by the people in charge. Big money is hollowing out politics with some rich donors not even bothering to say whether they pay full British taxes or not. And to top it all the expenses scandals exposed some MPs as spivvy property speculators and tax evaders rather than public servants.

This whole set-up has to change. That’s what 2010 should be all about. Big, permanent change for the better.

People’s faith in politics may be dented, but I still believe in our ability to learn from the mistakes of the past, and set things on a new course.

2010 must be the year we press the political reset button.

But that will only happen if we do things differently. More of the same won’t produce anything new.
Of course both Labour and the Conservatives have learned to parrot the language of change. But where’s the proof they mean it? Despite all the hot air about fixing politics they have both voted against giving people the right to sack MPs who’ve seriously broken the rules. Both have refused to clean up the rotten system of party political funding. Both refuse to give you your say by introducing fair votes to the House of Commons. And both refuse to shake up the City of London, so that bankers can never again play Russian roulette with your savings.

Some people say, what’s the point of voting when the same old parties always win? I say: vote for what you believe in. If you like what the Liberal Democrats stand for, vote for it. If you want real change, not phoney change, vote for it. If you think things should be different, vote for it.

At the end of the day, politics should be about what you believe. What kind of Britain do you want to live in? What kind of world do we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in?

So as the countdown to the next General Election finally begins, I have a simple question for the other party leaders: what do you believe, really believe?

People don’t want leading politicians clinging on to power for its own sake, or just telling people what they want to hear. There’s got to be more to it than that.

I have one belief above all others: a belief in fairness. Under my leadership the Liberal Democrats have been working on new ideas to make Britain the fair country I believe most people want it to be. We want to raise standards in all of our schools by giving specific help to the children most in need, and by making class sizes smaller. Soon we will be publishing new ideas to turn our economy away from its over dependence on the City of London to a new, green economy where hundreds of thousands of new jobs will be created as we rebuild our transport, energy and housing infrastructure. Above all, we are now the only party with a detailed plan to make taxes fair – removing all income tax on the first £10,000 you earn, paid for by asking people at the top to pay a bit more.

If we as Leaders want people to turn out to vote at all at the next General Election, we have got to show people our convictions, not just dividing lines, our beliefs, not just soundbites.

I hope in the coming months even more people will get a chance to find out what I believe in, and the beliefs of the Liberal Democrats. If enough people share our convictions, our beliefs, then 2010 really can be the beginning of something new.

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  • Silent Hunter 29th Dec '09 - 12:58pm

    BUT – He still won’t say that he WON’T support a minority Labour Government!!!! FFS!

    For that reason alone – I can’t vote Lib Dem.

    I want to see Labour utterly destroyed for what they have done to this country – I don’t want them ‘preserved’ by mistakenly voting Lib Dem only to find that Labour get in again, propped up by the Lib Dems.

  • I want to see Labour utterly destroyed for what they have done to this country – I don’t want them ‘preserved’ by mistakenly voting Lib Dem only to find that Labour get in again, propped up by the Lib Dems.

    You just don’t get it do you – that’s actually not hitting the political reset button as it’s in the hands of the electorate not just Nick Clegg. More to the point, will Labour and the Tories say who they’d support if they don’t have enough seats to form a majority Government? Or will they have an alliance with each other?

  • Silent Hunter 29th Dec '09 - 2:06pm

    Sorry John, I DO “get it”, as do many more who won’t vote for the Lib Dems at present, because they threaten to let Labour back into government by the back door. We haven’t forgotten the ill-fated Lib-Lab pact.

    If the Lib Dems said they would support neither Labour nor Tory in a hung parliament, thus forcing a second election, I would be more inclined to vote for them. Have the courage of your convictions and stand on a platform of electoral reform and a root and branch change to our system of government. The current system of FPTP, lobbying and political cronyism is so far past its sell-by date – the smell of corruption is overwhelming the electorate.

  • Andrew Suffield 29th Dec '09 - 2:17pm

    I’m getting tired of this. You have been repeatedly told that Clegg has said he will not pick sides before the election. Go vote for the Tories already.

  • Richard Church 29th Dec '09 - 8:09pm

    Why should a Liberal Democrat prefer a Conservative government to a Labour one?

    Of all the parties, the Tories are the least likely to deliver fundamental political and economic refrom. If you want more of the same clapped out political system and cynical positioning vote Conservative. Fast backwards to John Major.

    If Cameron could actually demonstrate by his policies rather than his sounbites that he is close the the Lib Dems on a fair taxation system, on political reform and on the environment then he might deserve a little more credit. If we have a Conservative majority government, we are heading for biggest disillusion in politics ever.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th Dec '09 - 9:19pm

    “we have got to show people our convictions”

    Hmm. The words “arson” and “cactus” spring immediately to mind …

  • Stanley Theed 29th Dec '09 - 10:12pm

    Should the next general election result in a hung parliament, I suspect that in order to preserve the status quo and avoid parliamentary and electoral reform the Tory and Labour parties will discover they have much in common and will work together ‘for the public good’.

  • “If the Lib Dems said they would support neither Labour nor Tory in a hung parliament, thus forcing a second election, I would be ‘more inclined’ to vote for them.”

    “If I could persuade the Lib Dems to cause pointless political instability, for which they would be saddled with the blame, I would be “more inclined” to….. ”

    Laugh like a drain?

  • Silent Hunter, Nick’s already ruled out a coalition with Labour or the Tories, over a year ago. Get with the program.

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