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Super-strength Clegg

Nick Robinson | 14:17 UK time, Wednesday, 17 September 2008

If you thought you knew what the Liberal Democrats stand for, think again. That was the single, simple and relentless message that ran right through this conference and the leader's speech.

Nick CleggNick Clegg has taken a party known for years as "those rather nice people who want to spend more and tax more to pay for it" and is trying to re-brand them as "those tough people prepared to make the cuts to give you your money back".

This - he insists - is not merely about political re-positioning. It is, he claims, a vital part of an economic recovery plan. It is nothing if not audacious. Rhetoric that would induce ecstasy at a Tory conference was greeted here with polite applause and occasional bemusement.

This young, charismatic new leader - who wore a blue tie and strode about the stage without any notes - has always rejected those who've dubbed him "Cameron Lite". Today he sought to sell himself as Super-strength Clegg. His party have swallowed it but will the country?

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    He obviously thought he was at the Tory conference. Given the polite applause, the audience also must have thought they were at the Tory conference too?

    Of course, is this not standard LD policy? Go with the flow? now Nulabour is dead.

  • Comment number 2.

    Clegg is, frankly, an irrelevant force meeting an immovable public.

  • Comment number 3.

    Irrelevant.

    Let's get back to bashing Brown and expelling this rotten government.....

  • Comment number 4.

    Well at least someone has the right idea.

    Would love to know how he plans to cut taxes to 90% and improve services though. Perhaps he has a few quangos in his sights.

    Ask him for the numbers.



  • Comment number 5.

    Cameron-Lite.... jeepers that would be very, very lite indeed!

    Best he just tries to be himself.

    After all, that's what did for Gordon; going off piste all the time where he was completely out of his depth.

  • Comment number 6.

    How can anyone take him seriously when he said he thought the State Pension was £30 for a single person?

    How out of touch is this guy and his party?

  • Comment number 7.

    For many people who have always argued for increasing tax and boosting public services, this will be a real blow, as the one thing they have been able to rely on in the recent past is that the Lib Dems favoured this approach.

    For people like me, who genuinely believe we are already paying too much tax, and that most of the money we pay is wasted on inefficient services or useless or even counterproductive ventures like the War in Iraq, this is a breath of fresh air.

    At last someone is trying to make the case for doing more with less.

    If only I could bring myself to trust a politician's word ...

  • Comment number 8.

    Presumably he's looking for a place in Cameron's cabinet :-)

  • Comment number 9.

    The direction makes sense - but they have a long way to go before they are credible on this pitch party wide.

    The left of centre vote is split between two parties at the moment. Labour are imploding....

    ....maybe Clegg should follow a strategy of merging Labour and Liberal parties under his leadership?

    That would give some decent opposition to a Cameron government.

  • Comment number 10.

    Some of the speech made sense - except for:

    - talking about helping people's finances, but not knowing what the pension figures are!

    - saying that Britain is the most 'spied on' country in Europe, and then on the same day sending out 250,000 unasked-for phone calls to people's homes!

    Not v convincing...

  • Comment number 11.

    Apparently they stand for no fossil fuels or nuclear power stations. Pretty daft!
    Also, not impressed with Clegg going on about how hard OAPs are finding things when he clearly hadn't the faintest idea yesterday how much the old age pension was.

  • Comment number 12.

    "They are a zombie government."

    Hes not wrong.

  • Comment number 13.

    Not sure what the odds are at the bookies for the LibDems becoming the official opposition (instead of labour) in 2010, but whatever it is, I reckon it'd be worth a flutter.

    For those tory MPs who voted with the huge mass of labour MPs to keep all their no-limits/no-oversight perks take note: labour's a goner, but you won't get a chance either; people won't replace one set of self-serving idiots with another; they'll choose a 3rd option if they have a choice.

    For those tory MPs who votes against labour and in favour of having some kind of oversight of their perks; watch your backs, the libdems will take a lot of your 2010 majority away if you're not careful.

    For labour MPs; ha ha ha, you deserve everything you get in 2010.

  • Comment number 14.

    He's going to the official opposition leader after the next election I reckon.

    Still rubbish, but above labour.

  • Comment number 15.

    What a bunch of copy-cats.

    Both Brown and now Clegg waltzing around the stage with no notes.

    Cameron can now say that people do steal from him.

    Why do Brown and Clegg wear blue ties?? I can never understand it; if they are trying to play clever games it doesn't work on me as it looks ridiculous.

  • Comment number 16.

    He's going to split the Tory vote and let Labour back in. Oh Lord!

  • Comment number 17.

    Clegg - who he?

    Oh leader of the LibDems - if he expects his party to support tax cuts then he is as out of touch with his party as Gordon Brown is with his...

    Is there any sign that anyone actually supports his policy (assuming they can remember who he is) ?

    Of course with the LibDems, what they say and what they do are not necesarily related.

    They claimed to be support a referendum on the EU Constitution - until it came to actually voting for it in the HoC. Although to be fair, they still claimed to support a referendum, they just did everything they could to block having one.

    While everything Labour say turns out to mean the opposite of what everyone heard; everything the LibDems say is completely unrelated to anything - even their own actions.

  • Comment number 18.

    At last you have noticed the Liberal Democrat conference was taking place this week.

    I left the old Liberal Party thirty years ago because it had become a tax and spend party. Now it seems young Cleggie is discovering the real roots of his party, in which a small government can ensure equitable treatment for all.

    In such a political environment ordinary people will be able to control their own lives and their neighbourhoods.

    Why is it that small government and tax cuts is now presumed to be the preserve of the political Right?

    This view is utter rubbish and just shows the flaccid and superficial nature of politics peddled about these days. I smell vested interests at work.

    Left libertarianism has a long and proud history. I agree that it has had a hard time these last seventy years but it is very valid now that both the forces of capital and the state have, yet again, so utterly failed the people of this country.

  • Comment number 19.

    It was a great speech, full of hope and energy. Painting the Tories as "Blue Labour" was simply perfect.

  • Comment number 20.

    The Liberals have a very steep hill to climb. Before they can find favour with the voting public, they need to reenergise voters with solid policies on the economy, education and health. The three main parties are struggling to convince voters that their recipes are better than those of their opponents. Voter apathy and frustrations are growing. The Liberals are very much on the side-lines of British politics. They have to pull something spectacular out of the bag if they want voter sympathy.Clegg's tough stance has not paid dividends as yet but it is worth a try!

  • Comment number 21.

    Quote: "If you thought you knew what the Liberal Democrats stand for, think again."

    Er no when it came to to the crunch EU Treaty vote, the Lib Dems ...er...abstained despite their very very clear manifesto promise.

    Perhaps, like Gordon Brown, they assume we - the voters - have forgotten, but we haven't.

  • Comment number 22.

    Is Nick Clegg really charismatic? Well, blow me.

  • Comment number 23.

    Nice try Nick, but the LD's are a despearate irrelevance on the fringe of sanity, never mind politics.

    Of course, I will eat my words if they come second at the next election, but thats a risk I will take.

  • Comment number 24.

    Shame he didn't say:
    "I will simplify taxation and benefits, stop final salary pension schemes in the public sector paid for by taxpayers and thereby reduce the size and cost of the Civil Service.
    I will reduce the number of MP's to 300 and make their pensions defined benefit".
    Had he done so I would vote for him.

  • Comment number 25.

    I certainly agree that the tax system needs to be simplified and made much fairer. Not only with regards to income tax, where the lower paid lose a greater proportion of their income to tax than the wealthy, but also with regards to the Council Tax which is grossly unfair. It is the people who use local services not their houses so a local income tax would be much better than the present system based on property values, which takes no account at all of the household income.

    However what with "New Labour" and Cameron's Conservatives it looks as if the transformation of the political landscape is to be completed with the dawn of the age of the tough but caring Liberal Democrats!

    I just wish I could really trust in any of them to use our hard earned taxes wisely for the benefit of the people of this country first and foremost and budget to run the country as a wise man would run his own home.

  • Comment number 26.

    Surely the BBC can put some some naughty word filters and allow the comments to be seens faster than this. Some posts from 2.45pm are still waiting for moderation.

  • Comment number 27.

    Iain Dale 4:02 PM

    UK Polling Report is reporting rumours of a MORI poll showing some incredible results...

    Conservative 52%
    Labour 24%
    LibDems 12%

    Wow. I'll believe it when I see it...

  • Comment number 28.

    This phone poll proposal is thoroughly half baked. The Lib Dems currently defend the poll on the basis that its "research" rather than marketing - but it has a 30 second spiel by Nick Clegg in it at the start. Any whiff of promoting the Lib Dems and they are breaking the law, because you cant send recorded phone messages like this for promotion purposes in Europe. If, on the other hand, they are truly conducting research, then... wait for it.... they are also breaking the law! In that case because the Lib Dems aren't registered to conduct research under the data protection act (they are of course registered to raise funds and promote themeselves, which is what this is really about). So they are caught either way. I wonder if this idea has been cooked up a US PR firm who dont understand the UK market? Any half awake UK firm would have spotted this weeks ago.

  • Comment number 29.

    This is all very well Nick, but yet again you reveal your pro-Labour bias. First you compare Clegg to Cameron to their joint detriment, but more importantly you completely ignore the really important issues. Where are your revelations on Brown's responsibility for the collapse of all these American firms? Why not provide the truth about his culpability in allowing stock markets around the world to go into free-fall? And why do you ignore George Osborne's detailed policy statement yesterday on what the Conservatives would do to put everything right?*

    This is not what we expect from the BBC!


    *for those who missed it, he said that what was needed was 'leadership'. He didn't actually say in which direction, but you can't have everything.

  • Comment number 30.

    HAve all the moderators died

  • Comment number 31.

    Quick update on Gordon Brown.

    He has realised that the game is up and found a new job as a moderator for auntie.

    At 5.02 BST:

    22 on Nick Robinson plus
    8 on the previous thread
    3 on Mark Mardell
    19 on Robert Peston
    37 on Justin Webb

    A total of 89 posts awaiting moderation across just 4 blogs. And what on earth with wrong with No.1 on the last thread?

    Hey ho.

  • Comment number 32.

    I think that he may have regained some voters that he lost when he apparently claimed that he was a victim of the credit crunch!

  • Comment number 33.

    No one will take the Lib Dem leader seriously until he tells the people exactly where the £20 billion pounds worth of cuts in public services will be applied, and who, and by how much, taxpayers will benefit. It is the sort of nonsense that we have come to expect from former European bureucrats.

  • Comment number 34.

    Oh my god that makes things quite difficuilt. Not sure which Conservative party to vote for at the next election now.........
    Not another party with all the answers to what Britain needs. We have heared this all before millions of times. Same old rubbish well delivered.

  • Comment number 35.

    The trouble Nick is this: how many times have you become aware that LibDems say different things to different wards in the same constituency, or between constituencies, at election times? This is a constant criticism of their electioneering tactics.

    Nick Clegg can say whatever he wants. The Big Problem is whether he can be believed, especially since his message goes against the grain of much of what the core of the LibDems are about.

  • Comment number 36.

    Surely any good political leader recognises the current political landscape and is flexible enough to create policies that reflect the mood of the country.

    Tax cutting is not a monopoly for the Conservatives and good on Nick Clegg for having the courage to alter the direction of the Lib Dems.

    A rather 'conservative leader' type of speech was balanced at the end by the pledge for social justice to bring his party onside.

    A competent performance and conference.

  • Comment number 37.

    He might get a chance as every one is fed up with high taxes (and supper rich not paying any thing).

    Thing are pretty bad I am closing my firm. Also I am developing a property to move in, as things are I am cutting down, spoke to builder I have he and his friends are reducing staff. Another friend wants to sell his shop.

    All the business I know are losing money, we cannot afford to borrow now. If things goes on this rate there will be over 3 million unemployed by xmas.

  • Comment number 38.

    "It is the people who use local services not their houses so a local income tax would be much better than the present system based on property values, which takes no account at all of the household income."

    Use it is people who use local services not their houses - so logically each person should pay their fair share i.e. a Poll tax.

    Local income tax is NOT a fair tax as it makes no consideration of people's ability to pay. Someone with lives alone with an expensive mortgage to pay would be hit a lot harder then someone on an indentical wage who lives with their parents or owns their own home out-right.

    Income tax is a blunt instrument, we need a tax system that has some more finesse

  • Comment number 39.

    A good political leader will recognise the current political landscape and be flexible enough to create policies that reflect the mood of the country.

    Surely tax cutting is not a monopoly for the Conservatives and good on Nick Clegg for having the courage to alter the direction of the Lib Dems.

    Couldn't help get the feeling he was trying to be more David Cameron than David Cameron and his audience was unsure at times.

    On the whole upbeat Lib Dem conference and competent performance from Nick Clegg

  • Comment number 40.

    Cleggy has no chance some of us still remember his childish tactics over the Lisbon treaty (principled my foot, more like clueless)

    Cleggy go back to your constituency and prepare for your p45.

  • Comment number 41.

    Heaven help us if the 'Beardy-Weirdy's' gain power.

  • Comment number 42.

    30. WhiteEnglishProud

    I smell a QUANGO at work.

  • Comment number 43.

    I really did start the week intending to give serious thought to the Lib Dems (I once, in the early 1960`s canvassed for the Liberal Party)
    I am disappointed, they have such an air of "moral superiority" that quite honestly I would love to see the smirk wiped off their faces.

  • Comment number 44.

    Trust the libs to go for a super strengh Clegg. Just as we are all cutting back on our units.

  • Comment number 45.

    Clearly not

    http://politicalbetting.com/

    LDs to win 8 seats on these numbers.

  • Comment number 46.

    jimbrandt (39) - Nick can't talk about those kind of things because they aren't what he's good at. This is a politics blog. What the BBC very conspicuously lacks is a government blog, which discusses the content of policy, evaluates options, and scrutinises implementation.

    Robert Peston sometimes strays into that, within his area, but it's something that the Beeb ought to address head on. What Nick covers is fine, but it ain't everything, and it's the lesser part.

  • Comment number 47.

    Nick

    Just heard that the tories currently have 52% in the polls.

    Next time a politician (other than a tory) starts a sentence with the phrase:-

    "What the people want" or

    "What the people expect"

    Maybe you could interject and remind them that what the people REALLY want is a general election to get some non-socialists back in charge to start repairing the damage of the past decade.

  • Comment number 48.

    I have just read his full speech and the guy talks a lot of sense some of it is a bit wishy-washy at the moment, and living in a conservative heart-land my vote won't count anyway.
    The only disappointing thing was that I saw no mention of Proportional Representation in his speech. Such a shame when governments presently get elected with large magorities with only about 20% of the country supporting them.

  • Comment number 49.

    "Go back to your constituencies and prepare for disappointment."

  • Comment number 50.

    Hooray. Going back to the roots of Liberalism. That will do nicely, thank you.

  • Comment number 51.


    Clegg also went on to talk about his rather naive faith in the natural goodness of people. Frankly, he doesn't know what he's talking about. I used to think the same until psychologists of my aquaintance taught me better. Most people will try to look out for themselves first and foremost, and only after satisfaction of their innate 'selfish' needs and desires will they consider others. Those that put themselves out first are generally trained by their immediate social framework to become altruistic and most frequently this requires a religious outlook or ethos to push this point home. His views on goodness are ironic really, considering Clegg is a 'devout atheist'...

  • Comment number 52.

    This reminded me of the two Davids. Now who were they? "Go to your constituencies and prepare for government" Both did very well afterwards but not in government.

    If the rumours are true about tomorrow's MORI poll, there won't be many of them left to govern us.

    Bob

  • Comment number 53.

    I agree that the tax burden and wasteful public expenditure should be reduced. The Tories sgould be much, much more bolder on thsi front as the zeitgeist has changed.

    Sadly, Clegg blew it when he started spouting green nonsense, especially his opposition to nuclear and coal electricy generation. Proof that the sort of person who wears socks with sandals and enjoys a hearty nut roast with his carrot juice is alive and well in the Lib-Dem party.

  • Comment number 54.

    I recall a certain Sir David Steel some years ago - at a party conference - saying "go home and prepare for Government".

    They are still preparing............

  • Comment number 55.

    Gleg can promise the world.
    As the Lib-Dem's have as much chance of running this country as the cow has of jumping over the moon, he will never be called on to fulfill his promises.

  • Comment number 56.

    Why is there so much hatred directed at the Lib Dems? Why are so many people keen to write them off as irrelevant? I would say its just Tory and Labour voters keen to avoid splitting the vote, but the news media and yes even Nick Robinson are all guilty of portraying the Lib Dems as political-no-hopers!

    Its almost as if people don't want a third political party! But pray tell me when has any independent voter ever truly been happy with the state of government in the UK in all of the years of power swinging back and forth between the Conservatives and Labour?

    Labour - Conservative. Conservative - Labour when has it ever really worked? At risk of sounding like an advert for a high street bank. There is another way!

    Also I disagree that the Lib Dems have really re-branded at all, the central message of the party hasn't changed at all, its always been about tax breaks for low and middle earners and higher taxes for the super-rich.

    Similar measures were in the 2005 manifesto, just this time around Dr Cable has found what looks to me to be better way of reaching the same end result.

    And I always laugh when anyone criticises the Lib Dems budget proposals. Vince Cable has been warning about the dangers of excessive lending and borrowing for years. He saw the credit crunch coming, warned about it and was ignored by Gordon Brown who missed it completely. And George Osbourne has yet to show he any more of a grasp of macroeconomics than a GCSE student. Sorry folks, but the Lib Dems irrelevant? I think not! I know who I'll trust with my house.

  • Comment number 57.

    I wonder if Clegg will become the "Last of the Summer Whines"?

    All a bit irrelevant, if there's no election likely for 20 months.

    What's the government doing?

  • Comment number 58.

    Nick, I think the answer to your concluding question "his party swallowed it but will the country?" is a resounding "NO".
    Fair enough Clegg and Cable may attract a lot of sympathy from hard-pressed families and individuals with promises of tax reform and giving people their money back.
    Come the election however and you will find a majority of people voting to evict Labour at whatever cost and will look to the party most likely to do that. How many times have we seen a "resurgent" LibDem opposition claim the time as theirs. It will be no different next time around. What will be intriguing is the margin between Lab and LibDem.

  • Comment number 59.

    Latest poll: Tories 52%, LibDems 12%.

    Albeit polling was prior to the launch of 'Super-strength Clegg'.

    I think the Lib-dems will bounce back...
    to 15%

  • Comment number 60.

    Policies such as ID cards and the war in Iraq are those of the illiberal Right. It just so happens that a 'Labour' government introduced them while the Tories voted FOR the Iraq war (and the waste of thousands of lives and billions of pounds) and CONSIDERED seriously ID cards when John Major was in 'power'. This is the kind of waste that the Tories never talk about: they introduced the quango state and private sector intervention in state health care and education, leading in turn to consultancy and management perforamnce monitoring which - like with so many Tory policies - have ballooned under 'Labour'.

    So it MAY be that the Lib Dems are looking to cut REAL waste rather than going for the most vulnerable through - for example - under-funding the NHS as they did in the 80s and 90s.

    Where they all miss a trick though is linking back the paying of taxes to patriotic duty. 'Waste' has weakened the social contract between individual and the state. Give back money from genuine waste and barmy policies by all means, but make sure that we have the money to spend on things that really matter and cut taxes for the most vulnerable, not the very richest.

    Clegg does not have the media/communication channels open to him that Cameron has. Getting the balance between cutting waste and the expense of daft policies with making sure that it doesn't damage services and make millions of state employees unemployed is a difficult one. If he can do enough he may deprive Cameron of a large or even working majority, coupled with the fact that the Scots are ensuring their backs by voting SNP so there will be little of no joy for the 'big three' north of the border.

  • Comment number 61.

    I've voted labour all of my life and am fed up of them exploiting my loyalty.
    I can still remember the pain of the last tory govt and will never vote for them.
    So yes I will vote lib dem and particularly look forward to their reformation of parliament to better reflect what people feel and want.

  • Comment number 62.

    For a political leader to think that the basic state pension is £30 how misinformed and ignorant can he get? Give me good old Charles Kennedy slurring his words any day in preference to this hybrid Blair-cum-Cameron - 3rd class politician.

  • Comment number 63.

    Nick CLegg probably "Strode about the stge without any notes" due to the memory aid of a six foot high autoque at the back of the conference hall.

  • Comment number 64.

    Re comment #50.
    I agree. As someone who would love to see the return of a proper 19th-century-style liberalism, (not some nancy 'Liberal Democrat' party) this is a move in the right direction.
    A Liberal government with a Tory opposition, (or even a Tory government with a Liberal opposition) would be far superior to GB and his acolytes, and banish the increasingly irrelevant Labour party into the bogland which it deserves, and into which it can slowly submerge.

  • Comment number 65.

    Mr Clegg was strong on enthusiasm but weak on content. He appears to be depending on Vincent Cable (I just can't bring myself to call him "Vince").

    In fact, if Cable was leader I would have agreat deal more confidence in the LibDems.

    Cable and Alex Salmond, in my view, are the best two politicians in the UK by a mile. Both handle themsleves well and have the ability to think on their feet. Cameron is improving in this aspect but sadly Brown does not have this ability, being both uninspiring when we as a nation require it, and incredibly repetitive in defending himself from any criticsm whatsoever.

    One paper this morning said "Brown is Toast." I tend to agree. And Clegg while enthusistic doesn't have the policies to inspire. cameron is shooting at an open goal - just hope he scores.

  • Comment number 66.

    For Liberal Democrats to come to Govt, the country's voters must believe:

    1. That the Liberal Democrats know about economics.
    2. That the Liberal Democrats aren't the pigs on Animal Farm (if so they'll just vote Tory as they are stronger, more powerful and more permeated into the nation's blood)
    3. That they aren't just the Labour Party in new clothes, sandals and 1960s pot-smoking mantras.
    4. That their policies are based on evidence-based research and the realities of actual implementation.
    5. That liberal democracy doesn't mean spying on your electorate using stooges, councillors and the emergency services.

    My judgement: the country, once they know him, will trust Vince Cable more than anyone else where economics is concerned. Their policies on tax SOUND sensible, but need more detailed evaluation.

    Their policies on Europe need to be honed on realism not dreams. Their energy policies need the sums doing on them. Their 'green policies' need the weight of scientific evidence rather than political evangelism.

    Their education policies had better not focus on 'girls needs' and had rather focus on the crisis in boys education. Their defence policies are sensible but are they pragmatic in the real world?

    As for Liberal Democrats spying, I'd lay heavy odds that they are at it like the rest of them. They can't not be, if they want to be in Govt in this country.

    And ultimately, we're a nation of blackmailing voyeurs, aren't we? So why lie about it rather than talk about it like adults, eh?

  • Comment number 67.

    Deluded, I think the Lib Dems will be lucky to hold what they have.

  • Comment number 68.

    "This young, charismatic new leader - who wore a blue tie and strode about the stage without any notes"

    Just a teleprompter at the front of the circle.
    Never fear Nick, you weren't the only one conned by Cloggy. Lib Dems the next government? Welcome to fantasy politics, now who was it that said "go home and prepare for government"?

  • Comment number 69.

    oh come off it - the Lib Dems will be lucky to even beat Labour in an election - i personally favour them and welcome a tax cut strategy, but coming from a tory safe seat i can't state enough how hard headed most tory voters are, they will return all their tory MPs as usual providing Cameron doesn't do anything controversial, while the labour seats fall through lack of votes to either side, or even greens, ukip, bnp giving the tories a whopping majority - but frankly the Libdems should be looking to gain at least 25% out of labour's demise, theyre the natural second choice to lefties

  • Comment number 70.

    I think the electorate have grown up past the "Ooooh, give us money!" stage.

    Tax is fine as long as the system it pays for is working as well as it can.

    The current setup isn't great, but if the liberals think they can bribe their way out of 3rd place, they're likely to get a shock.

  • Comment number 71.

    Forget completely Gordon Brown and every single one of his disingenuous party. Nothing they say is believable and with luck they will get what they deserve at the next election. In the absence of any meaningful policy statements from Dave and the lads in the blue corner, right now Nick Clegg and Vince Cable are a viable option. Cable in particular, is as well qualified as anyone to pass comment on remedies for an economy on life support thanks to the astonishing incompetence/arrogance/ineptitude of Gordon Brown, a man who would dip his grubby fingers in his grannies purse.
    --
    On another note, I noticed a day or two ago elsewhere on bbc.co.uk a Newsnight poll for the worst ever Prime Minister of the twelve since the war, now I can't find the link. Given that Gordon Brown is a nailed on certainty for that dubious honour, behind such luminaries as James Callaghan and John Major, has it been stashed out of sight deliberately?

  • Comment number 72.

    Of course he could strut around the stage without notes, he was using autocue an autocue. Not a patch on Cameron but guess will still be better than our great leader when he performs next week.

  • Comment number 73.

    I suppose he deserves some sympathy for haviing to compete with not only global economic situation but also the NuLab circus this week.

    Apart from that, he was, is, and will be electoral toast, with or without policy U-turns.

    If he seriously thinks that the general public are going to give him honest answers to a multiple-choice telephone survey, that in itself puts him even more out of touch with reality that the current bunch of no-hopers.

    7 out of 10 for the Zombie soundbite, though.

  • Comment number 74.

    Nah. Who is he again?

  • Comment number 75.

    Party of Government..teehee...of which country? Perhaps the one person Gordon doen't have to fear will get his job...this man has no subtance and is full of soundbite policies that don't need to add up as he know full well that he and his party will never be in government.

  • Comment number 76.

    The wealth creating private sector is getting hammered right now and hundreds of thousands are about become unemployed. The public sector has boomed under Gordon and is over-manned and bloated with people who wouldn’t stand a chance in the real world of work getting jobs and delivering customer service!

    When Crash Gordon came to power in 1997 Gov’t expenditure was £300B. Now it’s £600B. Does anyone feel that we’ve had £300B pounds worth of extra benefits this year? No! Lots of it has been wasted!

    Gov’t expenditure needs to be cut just like the cuts that every household in the land is doing right now! But no, this Gov’t will use the pre-budget report in October to borrow more, break it’s own fiscal rules and continue the spending and PFI borrowing binge that have got us into this mess!

    Clegg will find that he hasn’t gone far enough. We will need mega cuts in spending, less borrowing and far less tax to balance the books for the next decade and get free enterprise to create the wealth again after Labour has destroyed it.

    If Crash Gordon had kept to the real “prudent” spending plans of Ken Clarke then Gov’t spending would not have been £600B but probably no more than £500B today. We would all be better off and better positioned to weather this downturn/recession/depression.

    One thing is for certain, none of the British electorate will be seduced by Labour 1997 style for at least 20 years. These events will stick in our minds for many years. Maybe that is why the Conservatives are now on 52% in an opinion poll tonight…28% ahead of Labour….this is how serious it is for the free-spending champagne Socialists! The last time the conservatives were at this level was 1988 under the Blessed Margaret!

    So perhaps Clegg is being very clever strategically because the British people will not “trust” Labour for a decade or more and they will look for an alternative Opposition. Assuming Team Cameron develop a true Thatcherite tax and spending plan to create “sound money” and get us out of this mess not only will they get enormous support at the next election but they will position Clegg immediately to their Left thus ensuring that the Lib Dems become “Cameron Lite” and Labour become irrelevant. Very clever Nick!

  • Comment number 77.

    It was a dull, uninspiring speech.
    Where exactly does he think he is going to get into Government? In 2007 when they had the chance in Scotland and Wales they ran a mile!
    As a depressed Labour supporter it is Cameron who will be the next PM - thanks to Brown who is destroying the Labour Party and the economy at the same time. As the Libs race to catch Labour up on the right of British politics, it is the Tories who look to be occupying the middle ground. Words fail me.

  • Comment number 78.

    #56 DavidCParkes

    Kenneth Clarke has been saying the same thing for many years also. Vince Cable is not some voice in the wilderness.

  • Comment number 79.

    I appreciate that a 24 hr website only needs moderators 9-7 weekdays, so I also accept that I may well be saying the same thing that the 20 people before me have posted.
    I could do with the extra income. I'll do the night shift for you guys!

    In more relevant veins...

    Post 9:
    "....maybe Clegg should follow a strategy of merging Labour and Liberal parties under his leadership?

    That would give some decent opposition to a Cameron government."

    I believe HBOS and Lloyds have had the same idea. We'll be paying for that one (literally) for years.

    Looking forward to what we can expect by 2010 - assuming Labour survive that long (and I'm beginning to hope they don't):

    A Brown (or not) government that will, by this point, have done precisely nothing for two and a half years against a backdrop of an economy showing the first signs of recovery, but with 2 million unemployed and a PSNCR the size of the Pacific ocean.

    Simplified, there will be NO safe seats.

    Against this backdrop, we will have Cameron, who may have some policies by then, but given his track record, I'd go with "maybe not."

    This gives Clegg the best opportunity the Lib Dems have had since... well, before my time.

    To succeed though he needs policies that are:

    Forward thinking
    Realistic
    AFFORDABLE

    They don't need to be what everyone wants. As the Competition Commission will remind Gordon Brown when (or rather if) he returns to Earth, when there is no choice, people have to settle with what they can get. It may not be what's best, but at least its something.

    I'll take lower taxes thanks. Thing is, I want bureaucrats to go, not nurses. And I'll only vote for it when I can be sure of the prior rather than the latter. ie. substance please?

    I also need realism. You don't want nuclear or coal? That leaves you with oil and gas mate, because renewables won't fulfil 50% of our energy requirements overnight. Come on, even Labour figured that one out. I don't like nuclear, but even I see the need in the short term.

    Having said that, I'll vote for them anyway because they'll be the only party using positive rather than negative campaigning.

  • Comment number 80.

    Moderators, are you working to rule?
    Sorry, I just thought I'd ask because not a lot of moderating seems to be occurring. If the job is too difficult, perhaps ask Nick Robinson to limit his Newslog pieces to one a day. Soon you're performance will be as woeful as Gordon Brown's, we know you're there but no-one is sure what you actually do all day!

  • Comment number 81.

    Am I missing something? Hasn't anyone seen the results of the latest Ipsos Mori poll? Think Cleggie is kidding himself!

  • Comment number 82.

    re 81) cranhilllass

    Just seen it announced on sky news - tories 52% labour 24% lib Dems 12%

    I hope this its the final Nail in the coffin for both brown and cleggy.

  • Comment number 83.

    What do you mean "without notes?" You could clearly see the auto-cue at the back of the room.

  • Comment number 84.

    Nick,

    this is the end. The politicians have to realise that the game is up. This cannot be allowed to continue, and I will suggest what must happen.

    Gordon Brown must resign as Prime Minister, and then resume his position as Chancellor, that is his job, that is where he can best serve the interests of Great Britain. I am sorry he is not Prime Ministerial, because what has happened is that the role of Prime Minister is Presidential, whether we like it or not, it has happened.

    Jack Straw must then be installed as Prime Minister, and there must not be an election, I stress not be an election.

    If the conservative, and the liberal democrat MPs have any bit of decency left in them with regard to this country then they must support the Chancellor in all things economic.

    As for ID cards, forget it, as for the changes to abortion make it a completely free vote, it is down to individuals moral compass and should have nothing to do with party politics.

    An announcement must be made that the 2012 Olympics gave been cancelled. This amount of spending will break the taxpayer and cannot be funded by the banks.

    The implementation of computer systems into the NHS must be severely scaled back.

    This is a time for unity, not party loyalty or personal advancement. If the politicians think only of themselves then this could be worse than anybody ever dreamed of.

    As for some people thinking that governments never default on their debts then go back to 1928/9 when Britain defaulted on War Loan. Tell me has it ever been repaid, no! It still pays 3.5% and is irredeemable. It can happen, even to America.

    A government of national unity, because the party is over.

  • Comment number 85.

    65# mikepko

    Nice to see you back Mike. I could not agree more, but let us not leave NuLabour out of the loop.

    Looks like Alan Milburn gets the booby prize.

    "Labour needs to rediscover the passion that gave us victory in the first place, to defend our record with pride, promote our policy agenda with confidence, knowing that we are alone in having thought through policies to meet the great challenges of our time."

    Are all these numpties divorced from reality?

    I know it is a lot to ask but I would like to see Crash Gordon at the steering wheel in May 2010. I would not miss the look on his face for anything and hopefully they will have installed CCTV in the driving cab by then!
  • Comment number 86.

    Clegg's delivery was stilted, content a rehash from lukewarm soundbites with lots of vitriol and spin. The Lib/Dems have tried grandstanding, but are weak in policy delivery.

    They betrayed our legal system (and democratic freedoms) by supported the '42 day lockup without trial'; very undemocratic and misguided.

    Clegg will keep us locked in the wasteful and expensive EU and refuses the people a promised referendum. Thus his Party cannot be trusted.
    Lacking talented skill within its ranks, they will never deliver the important fiscal and social guidance necessary to navigate out of this utter mire.

  • Comment number 87.

    Nick

    Interesting that the tories are on 52%, labour down to 24%, liberals 12%.

    Yet not a mention of it anywhere on the BBC...

    Would hav been nice to hear Prescott or Darlings comments...

    Journalists work to present informaiton to the public - do the BBC have any?

    Challenging Clegg is a waste of time and effort -- he isn't going anywhere.

  • Comment number 88.

    82# Katanamochi

    There is a nice article in the Herald about the poll and the upcoming by-election at Glenrothes.

    The Tories have broken through the psychological 50% barrier - the first time since the heyday of Margaret Thatcher in 1988.

    The LibDems are down 4 points. I think that says it all about Clegg.

    Also looks like NuLabour have given up on winning Glenrothes.

    One way or another Not Flash just Gordon is toast.

  • Comment number 89.

    The latest poll in the Daily Telegraph suggests not

  • Comment number 90.

    Oh I found it.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7586755.stm

    Burried in the text, in a story burried in the website, under an inocuous headline.

    A bit of a shock that the BBC don't even think they need to bother to be impartial any more...

    Nick, do you set the tone for BBC political reporting, or do you follow the tone set 'higher up' ?

  • Comment number 91.

    The Liberal Democrat policies announced at the conference are not a departure from the Party's history. Gladstone, the great Liberal Prime Minister, pursued policies summed up as Peace, Retrenchment and Reform.

    The Retrenchment referred to cutting back on wasteful government expenditure.

    Peace (eg no to the Iraq War) and Reform (eg Civil Liberties, no ID cards) have always been part of the Party's platform.

  • Comment number 92.

    #29 jimbrant, yes, I agree, I was waiting with baited breath to hear the 'revelations' involving Gordon Brown and Lehman Bros demise. How disappointing.

    Personally, the only 'crime' I think he is guilty of is relaxing financial industry regulation in line with the rest of the Western World. Imro, SFA, PIA and Lonrho became the FSA and life was much easier when in terms of regulatory oversight and number of inspections.

    Consequently, I worked in an office next door to Lehman's London HQ, and believe me, if there was a financial crisis, Lehman Bros would be in the thick of it. Staff carrying cardboard boxes containing their belongings was not unusual. From memory, Gordon Brown had never worked there.

    As for George Osborne's 'rescue plan'. Somehow, 'leadership' doesn't cut it with me. The Tories (or ModCons as seudonyms are becoming popular) have come up with reassuring words but there's no guts to them. I want to know how they'll a rapidly deteriorating financial system out of trouble.

    Although, Labour don't seem to be full of innovative ideas, they seem to be doing a pretty good firefighting job at the moment. For our country at the moment the issues are economy, economy, economy.

  • Comment number 93.

    #92

    What I don't want to see is these bankers getting fat wadges of money when it is me and other taxpayers baling them out.

    I want to see blood, I want sackings with no compensation, I want an inquiry by the government into this and I want prosecutions.

    These bar stewards must not get away with this. This is disgraceful.

  • Comment number 94.

    Glad to read all the negative comments.

    'Brown is rubbish.' 'Clegg is an idiot.'

    So the last man standing is CAMERON!!!!! He can be the PM.

    What a way to decide that someone will become PM.

    I want a PM for who they are, not for who they aren't. Very depressing.

    And that is the root of the nation's political problems.

  • Comment number 95.

    It's not David Cameron's fault that Brown is rubbish and Clegg is an idiot (announcing that The Lib Dems are ready to govern when they are down to 12 pts in the latest Mori opinion poll was a master stroke). What would you expect Cameron to do? Give up and leave it to someone else. What is your solution?

  • Comment number 96.

    The Lib-Dems have been floundering ever since they got rid of Charlie Kennedy. Yes - he may have had a drink problem, but they had more seats when he was leader than they have now. They lost seats when Ming Campbell was leader. The Lib-Dems have been telling us for years that taxes would have to go up if we needed to retain all our services.

    Now, it seems that the penny has dropped, and Mr Clegg has suddenly realised that ordinary working people are fed up with being taxed to the hilt and, if his party are to reclaim the seats they lost, the only alternative is to tell us they will cut taxes.

    Looking at the alternatives, I don't think there is any party which would really put the interests of the country and the public first. We come a very poor second to the self-serving interests of the people we elect. I think the saying goes.......we get what we deserve.

  • Comment number 97.

    #92

    labour doing a good fire-fighting job? They lit the fire i the first place then poured petrol all over it. The money supply was being grown at 15%, bank credit was completely out of control, mortgages were beng given to people on 10x their salary; they knew all this was going on and did nothing about it. There were multiple warnings to them in the financial press to get on top of the problem and Gordon Brown ignored them in order to continue to claim the longest uninterupted period of growth in histroy.

    It is senseless to give this man the job of sorting it out because he won't do a damn thing that is necessary. Just like his mentor Alan Greenspan, he accepts no responsibility for the mess.

    #93 complaining about bankers getting fat wedges is missing the point too; if the man at the top is saying 'come on let's make this thing go faster' why are they to blame? They did what they were told by Gordon Brown and continued to fund an enormous credit bubble.

    There is no escaping it the buck has to stop somewhere and this buck stops witht he man at the top; which is why he must go.

    John Prescott - in a rare moment of lucidity - has it right today when he says 'get behind your man'. Now, I suggest they do just that - get right behind Gordon Brown and give him a big push.

  • Comment number 98.

    After his speech I doubt if anyone will care.
    The next election (oh please now) will be a two party race Labour (sorry New) and the Conservatives.
    Well a race is the wrong word in the current political climate. I think the best word to use should be annihilation.
    I cannot understand why politicians are the last to read the writing on the wall.
    It would appear that self, self, self is the case with this government.
    They are not serving the people, they are only serving themselves.
    Oh sorry this was supposed to be comment about Nick Clegg. You see irrelevant.

  • Comment number 99.

    Nos 92 and 93
    Tuesday's Daily Express (something I only read because my Dad bequeaths it to me each evening) relegated its ritual Brown-bashing to the later pages and did a two page denunciation of fat cats, city bonuses, energy price inflation, failure of petrol companies to pass on price reductions at the pumps etc etc.
    It seems improbable that an organ which has historically dedicated itself to whipping up a pro-business right-wing fervour has suddenly undertaken a 179-degree change of direction. Even less probable that the editor has this kind of freedom.
    My guess is that the Tories are trialling an "unacceptable face of capitalism" theme and that Dave will make a big play of distancing himself from the Men in Red Braces at this year's conference.

  • Comment number 100.

    #96 RobinJD, you are simply echoing my argument..... he relaxed regulation of financial services in line with the rest of the Western World. The Conservatives would have almost certainly done the same thing if they were in the same position (if memory serves me correctly, the Thatcherites were delighted with Brown's decision).

    Nobody forsaw this with perhaps the exception of Vince Cable (and perhaps Norman Lamont's old mate, George Soros), however, based upon the views of this website, not many people listen to the LibDems anyway.

    I say again, what is this 'strong leadership' from the ModCons going to involve? I'd love to know.

    Consequently, I agree with your second point to an extent; you can blame people bankers for greed - we're Thatcher's generation, it's natural or so we were lead to believe.

    The last thing we need at the moment is political instability. This is a time for parties to pull together and resume squabbling when things look more stable.

 

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