Nick Clegg’s New Year Message

Every year, party leaders do this kind of New Year’s message and every year party leaders try and come up with a reason why the next twelve months will be more important, or significant, or eventful than the last. Some kind of exciting, breathless prediction. But not this year. Not from me.

After a long period of drama and upheaval in the economy, how about a year of stability rather than surprises? More steady-as-she-goes than spectacular-highs-and-lows. Finally there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

The economy’s growing. Businesses are hiring. 30 million people are now in work – that’s a record high. So how about we make 2014 about one thing and one thing only: locking in our recovery. The people of Britain have already sacrificed an extraordinary amount.

The Coalition is trying to help in every way we can: cutting income tax; freezing petrol prices; providing free school meals for young children. But, ultimately, we’ll only take the pressure off for good by building a stronger economy, paying down Labour’s deficit, investing in the things that drive growth, schools, roads, railways.

And by building a fairer society, where everyone can get on in life, through fairer taxes, more jobs, more help for parents balancing work and home. And by sticking to our plan we’ll do both. There is a potential threat to all this.

In May you are going to choose who represents you in the European Union. Two of the parties on offer could help lead Britain out of Europe, the surest way to throw our recovery away. And the other one won’t lift a finger to help us stay in. UKIP want out. The Conservatives are flirting with exit. And Labour just don’t have the courage of their convictions on this.

All three would put narrow political interests ahead of the national economic interest. So, in a few months, I’m going to ask you to make a different choice. The Liberal Democrats are Britain’s Party of In. Not because we’re in love with the EU, or we think it’s perfect. But because being in Europe means jobs, trade and prosperity.

The country’s biggest firms have worked out that our membership is worth around £3000 to every British household every year. And this country only stands tall in the world when we stand tall in our own backyard.

In the 21st century, nations are stronger together and poorer apart and for exactly that reason I hope this year the people of Scotland choose to stay in the UK too.

So in May, be for IN. Don’t wait for a referendum. Don’t wait for the General Election. Make your voice heard now. Once Britain finds itself with one foot out the door we won’t just be able to turn back. So don’t take that risk. Don’t let anyone jeopardise our recovery. This year let’s keep Britain in Europe, in work; no shocks or surprises, just better times ahead.

* Nick Clegg is the MP for Sheffield Hallam

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  • Stuart Mitchell 31st Dec '13 - 1:16pm

    Clegg’s new year resolution should be to stop confusing deficit with debt. You don’t “pay down” a deficit.

  • Eddie Sammon 31st Dec '13 - 4:22pm

    I’m not going to drag my feet on this party of in the EU stuff, but if it goes wrong then Nick deserves to pay the price.

  • Bill le Breton 31st Dec '13 - 6:33pm

    Stuart, he’s not still trying to pay down that deficit is he? He can’t have a mortgage.

  • Chris Manners 31st Dec '13 - 7:10pm

    “The country’s biggest firms have worked out that our membership is worth around £3000 to every British household every year.”

    I’m a strong pro-European, but this sort of tripe doesn’t help the case, He did it before with some large number of jobs being dependent on membership.

    What happens if we leave is that we have to obey the Single Market stuff anyway, still pay into the budget, and still admit pretty much everyone we do now. The problem would be gradual loss of influence and that shouldn’t be quantified in such a way that UKIP can laugh it out of town.

  • Chris Manners 31st Dec '13 - 7:30pm

    “But, ultimately, we’ll only take the pressure off for good by building a stronger economy, paying down Labour’s deficit, investing in the things that drive growth, schools, roads, railways”

    The ONS are showing the deficit for the year so far has come down by a mere £1.9bn.

    Bit harder than it looked, Nick?

  • Frank Booth 31st Dec '13 - 8:41pm

    Chris Manners – the government has a nerve to say Plan A is working when the deficit is hardly coming down! I know it’s a coalition but why is Clegg determined to do the Tories electioneering for them by attacking Labour? Doesn’t he realise this just pushes the centre of gravity in UK politics to the right?

  • John Stevens. 1st Jan '14 - 8:16am

    Whilst I welcome any strong commitment to the EU, I cannot help fearing that NC’s commitment now might have the same impact on support for the EU as it had on the campaign for AV. Moreover a minimalist pro EU position, single market only but no Schengen and please don’t mention the euro will hardly dent UKIP’s onward march, or the related rise of euroscepticism in the Conservative Party and, above all, in the country. Finally it would be foolish for LD’s to covertly welcome UKIP’s advance, because it splits the Tories, and to reduce pro-Europeanism to merely a tactic. as seemed to be the case at the time of Cameron’s use of the veto. UKIP could even start winning some LD seats (Eastleigh, North Devon) if their current strength and profile continues. All the same: Happy New Year.

  • Caracatus: an ” I want a what sort of EU we want to be in and what we are working for in the EU” campaign is an “in the EU campaign”. The two are complementary.

  • Dear Nick

    Homework for Jan 2014 ;

    Does nobody bother checking this stuff before it is released?

  • Peter Watson 1st Jan '14 - 9:56am

    “This year let’s keep Britain in Europe”
    I worry that if Clegg becomes the face of staying in Europe it will be the same kiss of death that he gave to AV and the chance of electoral reform. As party leader, for better or for worse, it is right for him to be at the forefront of the Lib Dem european election campaign, but goodness I hope that pro-europeans find a better person to present their case.

  • Steve Comer 5th Jan '14 - 2:02am

    John Stevens is spot on. We must make the case for ‘more Europe’ not just what we have now. That means the elected Parliament having primacy in decision making if/when there is deadlock. We should also make it clear that we support genuine ‘subsidiarity’ which means both breaking the dead hand of Westminster and Whitehall and freeing up English and Welsh local government to make decision son local issues, whilst recognising that environmental policy, and dealing with unemployment, and most economic policies need to have a consistent approach across Europe.
    Perhaps more UK Lib Dems shouldy get a copy of the excellent booklet “For Europe” by Guy Verhofstadt and Daniel Cohn Bendit, and reading a bit of it ever night when they come in form surveying and Focus delivery. (Available in all good bookshops and their online equivalents).

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