WATCH: Nick Clegg say that Brexit is a monumental waste of time

From the Belfast Telegraph, watch the Cleggster speak at a Conference in Bath about social mobility and Brexit:

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

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  • Nick’s quite right to say “local government is paralysed by the cumulative effect of very very steep reductions in funding for local government”.. I agree with Nick.

    What he didn’t say, “between 2010 – 2015 The Government reduced its funding to local authorities by an estimated 28% in real terms between 2010-11 and 2014-15. Further planned cuts will bring the total reduction to 37% by 2015-16″…..

    National Audit Office Report, 14 November, 2014

    I’ve a funny feeling that the Cleggster was there at the time and had something to do with it ……. maybe he didn’t notice. I was a Councillor for some of that time, trying to channel funds into the increasing demands of social care…….. and I certainly did notice.

  • John Marriott 14th Mar '18 - 6:34pm

    Unless something is done soon, the existential crisis facing local government will just accelerate. Central government has got to stop using local government as a human shield and yes I’m afraid to say that David Raw is right in his analysis.

  • David Evans 14th Mar '18 - 6:49pm

    David and John are absolutely right. I remember a meeting I attended as our council’s finance portfolio holder in London where the Lib Dem LGA had a meeting in 2012 and I told our minister that the proposals being put forward by Eric Pickles were a disaster, and he needed to raise it with Nick and the rest of out team because the Cons were destroying our one area of great strength.

    I could say, sadly, that it was Nick and coalition that turned out to be the waste of time, but it was much worse than that. It almost totally destroyed us.

  • Richard Underhill 14th Mar '18 - 10:18pm

    Stephen Hawking said “I deal every day with complex mathematical problems. Please don’t ask me to help with Brexit”. Theresa May laughed.

  • Paul Pettinger 14th Mar '18 - 10:51pm

    If Brexit is (at the v least) a monumental waste of time, why did you help mainstream the idea of holding the in/out referendum Nick?

  • Simon – All Lib Dem MPs bar Nick voted for the referendum. So whether they supported it in 2008, 10 or 13 is a bit moot.

  • I feel sorry for the Lib Dems…Every time Nick Clegg pops up he reminds the voters who would be inclined to ‘lend’ you their vote of the dreaded Coalition years…it isn’t helping is it.

  • @Simon Shaw – I have seen a very nice leaflet with Nick’s face on – in the run up to the Lisbon Treaty – noting that “It’s time for a REAL referendum on Europe” calling for a referendum on EU membership.

    The people on the street are sick and tired of the games politicians play – whether or not they are in coalitions.

  • David Evans 15th Mar '18 - 9:01am

    wg – I think at the time of Lisbon it was the right time for a referendum. There were already too many lies becoming embedded in the nation’s consciousness and they needed to be opposed, then. It would have allowed a real discussion to be held and issues raised about the EU’s problems (and there are many) which could have been addressed.

    By 2016, the extra time for those lies to be further embedded and the fact that the problems with the EU had not been addressed, added to by the impact of austerity and coalition, made it much more difficult to connect with people for Brexit. In essence it was all left too late to build a consensus, and it left us totally polarised as a nation.

  • I see the usual suspects dredging up their anti Clegg sentiments.As a Council leader (sometime ago now) there has always been pressure on Councils but the Coalition was right for the first five years to shake the tree and force local government to face its financial position. The point that Nick is making that , once the fruit has fallen you cannot keep shaking that tree. Local Government has increased responsibilities and they should be properly funded. BUT the costs of Brexit are on the Governments mind , so local serices will continue to be starved of resources o pay for it.

  • Peter Watson 15th Mar '18 - 10:26am

    @Simon Shaw “a minority of voters regard 2010 to 2015 as what you call “the dreaded Coalition years” … a majority of voters regard 2010 to 2015 as having seen a responsible, competent and non-extreme government.”
    Do you have the evidence to support “majority” and “minority”?
    In the 2015 General election the two coalition parties combined secured 44.8% of the votes (down from 59.1% in 2010). Similarly, the Conservatives saw their share of the vote rise from 36.9% in 2015 to 42.4% in 2017 after 2 years of governing alone.
    It is not apparent that a majority of voters saw the Coalition as a good thing.

  • John Marriott 15th Mar '18 - 10:50am

    I’m 74 and started taking a serious interest in politics and world affairs in the 1960s. I’ve seen the ups and downs, the crises, the rise and fall of political parties and movements. I can honestly say that I have not seen the world in such a shambles. What is currently going on in these islands is bad enough; but add that to the tendions around the world and I can almost feel myself wishing for the Soviet Union to come back. At least, in theory, you thought you knew then who the enemy was! But, wait a minute. Isn’t that what Vlad and his mates are trying to do?

  • I have a lot of sympathy with John Marriott’s Cassandra-like comments. A “serious interest in politics” reminds us that we need more serious politics – not less. Abolishing politics is clearly Putin’s ambition with parallels in Washington and Beijing – and of course Mrs May’s election pitch inviting us to vote for her rather than any policy choices. Yet I still believe in politics as an honourable vocation!

  • Paul Pettinger 15th Mar '18 - 12:02pm

    Simon, your stock response seems to become pedantic rather than look at a bigger picture. Voters made up their minds on the coalition years ago. We have kept on testing the coalition record at the ballot box. In contrast to our time in Government in Scotland, it has always (from May 2011 onwards) consistently failed. That’s not anyone’s opinion, but the reality. Why do you want us to be a coalition enthusiasts club when – regardless of whether we love the coalition era or not – it objectively does not provide the Party with a legacy and voter base to sustain it having more than a peripheral impact on national politics?

  • Peter Watson 15th Mar '18 - 12:30pm

    @Ian Sanderson (RM3) “… but this was later nuanced …”
    Unfortunately the party’s approach comes across as though Lib Dems only want to give people a say if people say what Lib Dems want to hear. 🙁

  • There is an article in today’s Telegraph:

    Europe’s crisis deepens as intellectual opinion turns, and Italy is where it all ends

    This is a ‘premium’ article – so I will give some quotes in case any readers do not subscribe to the paper:

    “Europe’s political uprising is shifting to a second front. Once-silent intellectuals are starting to challenge the core assumption of EU ideology, indicting the project for moral vandalism and a reckless attack on the democratic nation state.

    It is almost as if a counter “doxa” is emerging in the cultural capitals of the Continent. Theorists and professors are proclaiming the virtues of the nation – the precious liberal nation, inspired by the universal and redemptive values of the French and American revolutions – in a way we have hardly heard in recent times.”

    “In the past it has been all too easy for the EU power structure to ridicule eurosceptic dissent as nostalgia, or to blacken it as populist tribalism with ugly undertones – whether the Front National in France, or Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party in the Netherlands. British protest could be quarantined as an Anglo-Saxon peculiarity.”

    “Just weeks earlier, Belgian historian David Van Reybrouck issued a withering broadside on similar lines, comparing EU’s high-handed treatment of member states to the “colonial administrations” of the Belgian, Dutch, British, or French overseas empires in the inter-war era. These regimes had their show-piece “councils of the people” but real power resided in a remote imperial executive, while repressed anger seethed below.”

    Doesn’t the weakening of Councils follow the same lines as the weakening of nation states within the EU [and wasn’t this one of the key reasons the Brexit vote was won?].

    How does a European superstate – with even less democracy – line up with balancing the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by conformity?

  • John Roffey 15th Mar '18 - 1:03pm
  • David Evans 15th Mar '18 - 3:52pm

    Bob Sawyer, as a Council Finance portfolio holder (until quite recently) I can categorically state that “the Coalition was *not* right for the first five years to shake the tree and force local government to face its financial position. Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, agreed to Local Government submitting to much greater cuts than almost every other area of government so that he could get an early place on their Star Chamber that determined where the cuts would be made. Civil Service departmental cuts were much smaller. But we did nothing to stop him.

    Bearing in mind that local government was our one area of real strength, the fact that we let the Conservatives sacrifice it to further their own agenda, showed political incompetence of the highest order.

  • Paul Pettinger 15th Mar '18 - 5:24pm

    Iain (and Simon), I’m afraid Nick began calling for an in/out referendum in early 2008: Soon after three of our front bench spokespersons were compelled to resign so they could support having a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (they were under a three line whip to vote against having one):

  • Paul Pettinger 15th Mar '18 - 8:22pm

    Simon, I’m not minding you pestering me, though do find your pedantry odd. To answer your question, Cameron didn’t actually want a referendum, so I don’t think there was a serious prospect of one in the Parliament before last. However, I don’t think we should feel too satisfied about ourselves for having (again) flipped our position on a referendum when in Government as, by that stage, we had unwisely helped mainstream the crazy idea and as we were pursuing stagnatory economics and had broken a lot of trust (giving cynical voters more reason to turn to those offering alternative answers), which helped further create the conditions for the Brexiters to win.

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