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A largely defensive Clegg speech

Nick Robinson | 16:53 UK time, Monday, 20 September 2010

Turn back the clock three years and Nick Clegg is not yet leader of his party.

Nick Clegg


Turn it back another three and he is not even an MP.

But you have to go back not six years, but six and a half decades, to reach the time his party was last in government.

In the circumstances, you might have thought this would be a moment for Nick Clegg to launch a wild celebration. Not a bit of it.

His speech to Lib Dem conference as Deputy Prime Minister was largely defensive.

"Stick with it," he told a country which he described as "anxious" and "unsure about the future" and a party which had "got used to being outsiders, against every every government that's come along".

The government's spending cuts would not - he insisted - be a return to the '30s or the '80s and were not driven by an ideological desire to cut the size of the state.

We will - he reassured his party - never lose our soul.

This was the speech of a man who knows that things - in the short term at least - can only get worse, but who wants party and country to keep their eyes on the prize.


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  • Comment number 1.

    On previous form, why should we believe a word the man says.

  • Comment number 2.

    The invisible enemy he called it.

    Debt and debt interest are the biggest threats to this country's survival and neither have really been grasped by the public at large.

    This is what has made it so difficult to convince everyone that we have to grasp the nettle and drive both out of the system if the country is going to survive and thrive in the future.

    Nick Clegg's speech was very good and he pulled no punches about what's ahead of us.

    Those ever dissenting Liberals should take heart that after so many years instead of other parties pinching their policies and adopting them as their own they now have their own people in government who can truly call them their own.

  • Comment number 3.

    He might as well have sung "my way." Put him in a blue tie and it could have been a conference speach by a Conservative.

    This is going to aleniate even further grass root Liberals. "There may be trouble ahead."

  • Comment number 4.

    I watched the speech and thought how sad it was to see him as a mouthpiece for tory policies. The fact that he had only praise for the tories, the party he will be fighting in a lot of the country next May, shows what a bind he is in.
    Everything depends on the economic strategy delivering and this is a tall order given that its sucess requires: the most jobs to be created in British history, the highest level of exports to be achieved in British history and interest rates to be kept low so therefore inflation must be at the 2% target for the whole of the parliament.
    Given the state of the world economy he will be lucky for it to come right by 2015.
    I did laugh at his use of Churchills 'The Few' speech from 1940 when teasing Labour -the irony totally lost on him that it was a famous speech by a liberal that left the party to become a tory PM (or maybe that's why he urged the party to believe)
    Overall not really confidant that the country is in good hands with him as Dep PM. Judging by the way the delegates sat with their arms folded (apart from the left of centre bits of the speech) they probably think so to

  • Comment number 5.

    Clegg will do well to remember people voted Libdem based on integrity and credibility. They probably voted knowing the party could only provide opposition but never make policy. What we have is a party leader with no integrity or credibility and only a lust for power.

  • Comment number 6.

    He'll never please the grumpy sandalistas who haven't a clue what 'liberal' actually means.

    They've gotten used to acting like Waldorf and Statler from the Muppet Show, so being in a position of influence is A Bad Thing as it may involve actually having to do something other than sniping from the sidelines.

  • Comment number 7.

    Nick Clegg says : "The government's spending cuts .... were not driven by an ideological desire to cut the size of the state."

    Is he amazingly naive or does he think we are stupid ?

    He may as well start the merger talks with the tories, because the LibDems will be slaughtered at the next election, and deservedly so for selling out all their principals for very little in return.

  • Comment number 8.

    I understand the text of the speech was shown to Number 10 before it was delivered.

    Why am I not suprised...

  • Comment number 9.

    Before you make a hasty decision, please bear this in mind. I am a Conservative voter who had a firmly held opinion that any system other than First Past the Post was totally undesirable. If this coalition falls early, my view would be reinforced.
    If it doesn't then I would be proved wrong, and I would be tempted to change my mind and support another form of selecting our MPs.
    If you bring it down you can kiss goodbye to any chance of PR in the future.

  • Comment number 10.

    Until, that is, the Lib Dem leader is passing a store proclaiming:

    "Top prices paid for grannies and souls! - Leave your principles at the door!"

    As a former member of the party, I - like many I know - joined the party precisely because we wanted to register our disdain for the policies and ideologies of each of Labour and the Conservatives.

    Like Tony Blair's wholesale dumping of Labour principles in pursuit of power, so Nick Clegg has betrayed all of those who thought they were members of a party of principle, even if unelectable.

    Never again.

    Following the next General Election, the LibDems should approach the Goodies for a loan of their trandem - and advertise for a third partner to join Messrs Kennedy and Hughes.

    Margaret Thatcher, David Owen and many others sought to destroy the Liberal tradition, but the final deathblow will surely be that dealt by Nick Clegg's free hand (his other will be grasped in that of his Master, Call Me Dave).

    Opposition isn't so bad, and by remaining distant from a minority Conservative government, the LibDems could have extracted far more concessions as the Government sought - om an issue by issue basis - to attract support for policies.

    Call me a cynic, but I have a mental image of David Cameron waving a piece of paper in front of Clegg's eyes, showing him the salary of a Deputy PM and reminding that the gravy train that was the former Commons expenses system was now no more....

  • Comment number 11.

    Nick are you kidding. You effectively compare him to George Best and then you wonder why he gives a humble speech.

    Are you actually going to give us a serious analysis of where the coalition is at and the interplay between its constituent elements. Or just more of the glib meaningless stuff?

  • Comment number 12.

    It still is there was no choice after the election.

    If Labour had stirred itself to bring a fairer voting system in, then a Lab-Lib coaltion could have been possible.

    Staying out of Government would have meant an election this autumn, and the Conservative Party, the only party with money in its coffers and a majority.

    Here we are - coalitions - which every party is at bottom, when they are truthful - are compromises. They are not, no matter what the papers say, automatic disasters. But you have to sign up for everything, and can't say "I don't like this bit" all the time. I would have prefered a Labour partner. What are Labour saying now about fairer voting systems. Where they would have cut things...

    Reluctantly, I will trust Nick Clegg.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    If the Lib-Dems fluff their first real chance of power in six and a half decades, they will never be taken seriously again.

  • Comment number 15.

    "The biggest challenge for the next government will be sorting out the public finances.There isn't a serious economist in the world who agrees with the Conservatives that, right in the grip of recession, with two and a half million unemployed, we should pull the rug out from under the economy with immediate spending cuts."

    Nick Clegg
    23 Sep 2009

    "We can't keep spending money....Delay won't solve the problems – in fact, it would make them worse....We could have decided to go more slowly but it would have worsened not eased the pain...."

    Nick Clegg
    20 Sep 2010

    You tell it straight Cleggy....

  • Comment number 16.

    Interesting announcement re. Tax Increment Financing - see this Future of London policy paper for how it might impact London (

    It's likely to represent positive news, but still lots of unanswered questions - will there be a limit on the number, or size of TIFs/ADZs? What revenue streams will be included - business rates, stamp duty, council tax? When specifically will they be introduced, and how do they fit into the Government's wider vision for new growth at a local level?

    The answers to the above will give us a clear answer as to how significant Clegg's announcement today is.

  • Comment number 17.

    How the Tories must love this man.

  • Comment number 18.

    Is he just going to be another recent Prime Minister's.... in the pocket of Rupert Murdoch? or has he got something the others lacked?

  • Comment number 19.

    He may indeed deserve the insults heaped on him by the happy union of internet bloggers, but at least he isn't connected to the Labour party in any way , thank the lord! Another spell with these incompetents in charge and immigration to Ethiopia would have been the only escape for the taxpayers of this fair land.

  • Comment number 20.

    I hope we are only hearing the froth and that thinking Liberals support Nick Clegg on his and their journey.

    The voting system they recommend will produce more not less likelihood of coalition government. Coalition government is a negotiation, of relative strengths to pull together an agreed mix of policies, to best run the country.

    That is not that each partner has to sign up to every aspect that is then enacted. But come the next election manifesto, when Liberal policies will be presented as a coherent whole, they will also have the strength within them of governmental experience.

    The Liberals, for their own credibility must show that they are capable of operating in a coalition government, or they will be voted down next time as not being a serious party that wants to hold the responsibility of government.

    They also need that credibiilty in the soon to come vote on AV of course.

  • Comment number 21.

    The government's spending cuts would not - he insisted - be a return to the '30s or the '80s and were not driven by an ideological desire to cut the size of the state.

    Hope they are as a result of a desire to cut the size of the state

  • Comment number 22.

    #4 I think the "record breaking" feats you identified indicate the size of the mess GorDon Brown left behind so if he carried on the way he was then he would have had to be even more record breaking records to pay for it and there is your problem

  • Comment number 23.

    rlhartuk @ 9.

    Fair point but also remember that on many other issues the Prime Minister is probably closer to the right of the LibDems than the right of the Tories. You too need to play your cards carefully.

  • Comment number 24.

    He didn't have much of a choice given the anxieties out there. He had to sell hope as against doom and having gone into the coalition, he has got to take ownership of the policies and programmes along with the PM for which they will be held accountable. No one would have expected him to tell his party faithfuls that he is against the policies of the govt that he is a psrt of. If that were the case, then he would have been expected to resign or take his party out of the coalition which would have been deemed suicidal, selfish and unpatriotic. It's no longer going to be Labour's fault even though we all know that it was the Labour party with some of the banks that caused the economic woes being experienced. Some individuals equally contributed to the problem as well by not being prudent with spending plus the encouragement and promotion of Labour policies including the lack of adequate regulation of the credit cards market & mortgage lending to help those who could not help themselves. The safety nets were not there to protect.

  • Comment number 25.

    Clegg was damned the moment he agreed to enter a coalition with the Conservative Party. The Lib Dem manifesto made the coalition ethically and politically untenable.

    As it stands he is left as the apologist for a barely-disguised Tory cuts driven agenda. Cuts were inevitable but this far and fast? And with this much inequality?

    More people voted for a centre-left government than the one we now have. Clegg should have claimed GBs scalp and forged a progressive alliance with Labour, driving for hard but fair cuts and earning a share of praise for the recovery.

    As it is he looks weak and desperately off manifesto. No amount of defensive speeches will save him or his party from the punishment they deserve for failing so quickly and soundly to remember why people had voted for them.

  • Comment number 26.

    The key will be what happens in five years time when the deficit has hopefully been reduced. The priorities of the two parties will be very different. The Lib Dems will want to improve education, health, scientific research and improve the environment. The Conservative Party will want to cut top rate tax on the rich.
    Some people seem to think the two parties will campaign together at the next election I cannot see the slightest chance that will happen, they have totally different priorities. They need to campaign separately to give the electorate a chance to chose their priorities. To do anything else would be undemocratic.

  • Comment number 27.

    Tonight I am going to join the Lib Dems. I am liberal in nature and I am now convinced that the Lib Dems have finally matured.

    I am realistic about cuts, they have to happen, no matter how much Ed Balls lies through his teeth.

    Labour screwed up the country and bend over for the rich, actually lowered captial gains tax and blew up every chance for political reform. My how people have short memories in this country.

  • Comment number 28.

    Ben @ 16 - could expand a bit - in layman's terms I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 29.

    When Lib Dems are knocking at our doors in the next General election telling us how well they have done 'being bold' yet tempering the Tories (a contradiction here I think)...will they also be offering a health warning saying that they will say anything to get votes, ond once in Government will ditch policies without any remorse....I don't think people will forget that the Libs are responsible for opening the gate to savage cuts for a few pieces of silver. By the way I urged people to vote Lib last election more fool me. Never again.

  • Comment number 30.

    Is there much point in any Libdem member whinging about thier position, as surely it is better to get one item on thier manifesto progressed rather than vainly talk about "when they are in power" as they used to. More power to Cameron and Clegg and coalition politics!

  • Comment number 31.

    I believe the Liberal Democrats have taken a gamble. However, the problem with gambling is that sometimes you lose. I have a more lengthy analysis that may be of interest to readers here:

  • Comment number 32.

    What prize......??? That the well off (including bankers, Osborne, Clegg, Gove, Huhne, et al) can get through these hard times on the backs of the poor.....???

    The man is a liar and a cheat, and his incredible social naivete and insularity are downright dangerous for the have nots of UK...and for his party. ...So far he has been let off lightly.....

    But he really doesnt mind...if he has a plan at all it is to sign up for the Tory Party once he has destroyed the LimpDems and every shred of their credibility.

  • Comment number 33.

    Clegg is purely and simply a Tory plant. Congratulations to him for duping everyone and ensuring Dave's happiness

  • Comment number 34.

    Of course the party hasn't lost its soul NIck - you've only pawned it.

  • Comment number 35.

    By the looks of the comments above Clegg has achieved just what he needed from the conference. Now watch him at the UN. He may be a little too muuch of a pragmatist for some tastes but he ain't dumb.

  • Comment number 36.

    Why should we believe a thing this man, or this party says.

    This is the man who said vote lib dem to keep the Tories out on his own leaflets in Sheffield Hallam.

    This is the man who stood up before the nation on national television and called out against the Tory VAT bombshell and then mere weeks later walked through the division doors to vote for it.

    This is the political party that voted for free schools in the house of parliament and then votes against it at conference when it knows it no longer has a chance to effect the outcome

    This is a political party that says one thing in the north and the exact opposite in the south. A party that drops used matresses in alley ways just so they can call the council and claim the credit in their next focus leaflet.

    But worst of all it is a party and a leader that will vote through the woest cuts in generations whilst crying crocodile tears of concern for the countless lives they will blight, countless futures crushed.

    The sooner this shower are absorbed into the conservative party the better in my opinion, at least they are honest about the actions.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    "The government's spending cuts would not - he insisted - be a return to the '30s or the '80s and were not driven by an ideological desire to cut the size of the state."

    Does he really believe this? There is absolutely no need for the cuts to be this large, it's a dangerous game and prior to the election the Lib Dems themselves were saying it was a dangerous game, oh how they caved on such an important issue.

    I'm not sure how he claims the party have a soul when they've quite clearly sold it.

  • Comment number 39.

    Clegg has morphed effortlessly and seemlessly into a Tory.

    Close your eyes and everything he says could be coming out of George Osbornes mouth.

    Even by the standards of the average politician, he lies with consumate ease.........His explanation for his 180 degree turn on the deficit was that Mervyn King revieled previously unheard of armageddon predictions of Sovereign debt.....King says he said nothing new!!!!!

    On forming the Coalition did clegg lie to Cameron re Labours non existent offer of AV without a referendum or did Cameron lie to his back benchers??

    They are both from the same Tory mould and if Clegg wants to stay an MP he will have to (officially) become a Tory rather than the plant he is now.

    And all this after just 4 they'll squeel after the next elections in May 2011!!

    I suspect the Lib Dem conference in 12 months will be hilarious, unfortunately the quarter of a million extra on the dole won't be laughing............Thanks Clegg.

  • Comment number 40.

    THOM @ 31

    politics is always a gamble and sometimes you win. What would you have done if you were Clegg after the election - gone into coalition with Labour?

  • Comment number 41.

    Party conferences don't function on reason; nor do any large gatherings of people.

    Mr Clegg made an emotional appeal: he has undoubtedly persuaded himself of his own arguments.

    In the quiet of people's own homes, or in the ballot box, people act and think differently.

    Mr Clegg has argued that the Party had no choice but to enter government, or lose credibility. However, one must always think of the terms of entry. I think that the LDs have agreed to too high a price, and that the country will pay it. Unfortunately we have a government whose dominant members have no grasp of the economic issues, as the link below argues. (VC has been sidelined and imprisoned in the business dept.)

    I believe that the LDs would have had more influence on policy if they had allowed Mr Cameron to form a minority government. The Tories would have been forced onto the back foot, and had to seek a wider consensus. For all Mr Clegg's intelligence and education, I believe that he has shown himself to be rather shallow.

  • Comment number 42.

    "I want you to imagine what you will say to people when you knock on their door at the next General Election."
    Nick Clegg today.

    And I can imagine what they'll say to the LibDems,it wont be pretty...

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    "I want this coalition to be the greenest government ever"
    David Cameron
    14 May 2010

    "In correspondence from a government minister to the Green MP Caroline Lucas, the government makes clear it will not honour a pledge to make it a criminal offence to posess, or bring into the country, illegal timber. Campaigners say such legal measures are necessary to help curb the 350m-650m square metres of forest that is illegally logged every year – possibly as much as 40% of the total market.

    In a second policy turnaround, both the Lib Dems and Tories promised before the election to extend the green subsidy for energy from small-scale solar panel installations to around 6,000 people who had put up panels before the launch of the government subsidy scheme. Last week Chris Huhne, the climate and energy secretary, made clear that the coalition would not extend the scheme and such early adopters would have to be content with the "warm glow of being pioneers."
    The Guardian today.

  • Comment number 45.

    The Tories know full well the mood of grass roots Lib Dems and will time their 'divorce' from the 'flattered' but hugely naïve Nick Clegg and his pathetic entourage, to call an early election and gain a majority government. Even Labour haven’t realised what the Tories are going to do - and their forthcoming leadership contest debacle and fallout will be the catalyst.

  • Comment number 46.

    Nick, what speech were you listening to? Or did you write this beforehand?

  • Comment number 47.

    In the last 4 months Clegg and his partners in the Libdems have not actually achieved anything concrete. Tax etc has yet to implemented and could easily be reversed, the schools rushed through by Gove with the Libdem help has been a failure and nothing else has actually been gained but a daft and expensive vote on voting which the tories do not support. For a complete turn-round in policy Clegg has achieved nothing but a brief pounce along the hall of fame and country and party are forgotten. Clegg acts and speaks as someone in a dream and the problem is that it will turn into a nightmare for US. Nerve, holding your nerve - an insult to all of us !

  • Comment number 48.

    Quotes from Cleggs Election Leaflets.........What a CONman...

    "Respected economists have warned their (Tory) plans for an immediate cut in public spending will make it even more difficult to find work" 26 4 2010 (You don't say Nick!!!!!)

    "The Consevatives have no interest in making a fairer Britain" 26 4 2010 (really Nick, so why have you put them in power?)

    "Real help for people in Sheffield - what we will do to help local people deal with the recession"
    (Try telling Forgemasters Nick)

    Clegg is a Tory.....

  • Comment number 49.

    The cuts in Coventry certainly do not seem to be fair. Programmes to support children in deprived areas. Services to support young people getting into work and education. There has not been time to consider the cuts, and they are already happening.

    The Lib Dems were the party that was brave enough to increase taxation to pay for decent services, now presiding over a bonfire of the essentials.

    Nick Clegg is not the interesting point this conference, he is a known quantity, it is the rank and file, and whether they will follow the leader that is the unknown.

    Indeed not just the rank and file, are there any tortured souls amongst the MPs who might say enough is enough? If Labour proves to be a credible opposition then the question is not whether Lib Dem MPs will defect but how many.

  • Comment number 50.

    Tom Bombadil @ 26.

    You say that the key will be what happens in five years time when the deficit has hopefully been reduced.

    That is an admirably positive sentiment and I believe that the Governments aspiration is to reduce the deficit to zero within the next five years.

    However, the starting point right now is a National Debt that is currently £952 Billion and over the next five years, that is predicted to grow to around £1.5 Trillion.

    Which is a very big number, and the interest on that £1.5Tn will act like a particularly onerous tax in its own right.

    The Government and by extension, us, the people, are in a bit of a bind and the thinking seems to be that economic growth will be sufficient to not only service the debt interest on the £1.5Tn but actually start to pay it down.

    Personally, I think that will prove to be a bridge too far because the Government shows no real signs of proposing, let alone implementing, the sort of genuinely radical measures* that are needed to drive the economy, and that plan B, printing money aka QE will eventually come into play instead.

    * e.g. flat rate tax, removing business red tape, focussing personal taxation around the individual (now possible due to the new single HMRC database rather than the 14 or so they previously deployed) rather than through PAYE, which is another burden for businesses and so on. It is not rocket science, they simply need to find the political will to make it so.

  • Comment number 51.

    The antagonistic attitudes towards Nick Clegg are bizarre. For decades Liberals and now Lib Dems have yearned for power. Unless and until the party believes that it can form a government on its own they are going to have to work with another party(ies) to exercise executive power.

    Nick Clegg is demonstrating statemanship in working in a coalition government where compromises are needed on both sides. The time for judgement is the next election - not four months into a new form of government.

    Well done Nick Clegg.

  • Comment number 52.

    Nick is growing in confidence and delivered a strong speech with conviction. David is already a strong and brilliant Prime Minister. The country have confidence in this arrangement for the good of us all (except of course for those looney lefty liberal types with their heads in the sand or big chips on their shoulders about their working class backgrounds).

    Boris is already high in the polls here in London and hopefully will win a second term as our Mayor and brilliant he has been so far.

    The country is at last being steered correctly by the right people for the right reasons. Thank God.

  • Comment number 53.

    duped Clegg has no mandate from the electorate to be in Government,he has duped voters by dropping the crux of his manifesto at his first personel opportunity,duped his own party into an alliance with a Tory party intent on replaying the economic and political disaster of the 80's,looks like a rabbit caught in headlights when he is challenged about his conduct/choices.His party should kick him out for the stupid,dangerous and moraly corrupt alliance he has taken them into,his constituency the same for openly lying to them and the electorate at large,who he has openly scorned and decieved should never trust him again!

  • Comment number 54.

    I think for the most part it was a good speech. He seemed to have an understanding of the unease in the party ranks and started to explain Liberal influence on government.

    However, there still remains one thing Clegg needs to do: stop the attach solely on Labour. It must be a real concern to the Liberals that despite attacking on Labour together with the Tories, Labour are still doing well in the polls. If will become odd come an election for Clegg to explain why people should vote Lib Dem adn not COnservative when he has been cosying up to them without attacking some of their less popular policies.

  • Comment number 55.

    Pity poor Nick Clegg.

    Nominally at least, one of the most powerful men in the Government.

    And people still look at him and say "That Piers Morgan's lost a bit of weight..."

  • Comment number 56.

    52 Flame......

    Is that Land of Hope and Glory I hear in the background or Rule Britania, or perhaps Jerusalem??

    it could be taken as very clever joke..sadly we know different, but it still made me smile.

  • Comment number 57.

    In the coalition climate, it is unrealistic to expect the old tribal politics to die out over-night after decades of slugging it out.

    In fact, according the Parlimentary Sketches we read in the media, tribalism is still very much alive, as a type of sickness, in Westmonster.

    Nevertheless, it is a fact that some of the most clear sighted politicians in the Labour Party, namely Field, Hutton and Milburn are working for the Government.

    This country (however you define it) needs people to work for the common wealth.

  • Comment number 58.

    What worries me most is the fact that we tend to adore people like Blair and Clegg and end up being betrayed by them. When can we wake up to the fact that such people (charm offencers/smooth talkers) are dishonest and will work for themseleves and Never for the common good!

  • Comment number 59.

    Eaton, I love 'em all and hum them incessantly.

    Surely, here, the bottom line is what is right for the country? I think it is laudable that we have these people in government.

    My God the last lot were a shower and party first tribal politicians like them WE DO NOT NEED. I love my country. Don't know about you!

  • Comment number 60.

    52. At 9:02pm on 20 Sep 2010, Flame wrote:
    The country have confidence in this arrangement for the good of us all (except of course for those looney lefty liberal types with their heads in the sand or big chips on their shoulders about their working class backgrounds).
    Of course this is the type of arrogance that loss the Conservatives the last election time they were in power!
    If Nick Glegg wants to be married to this kind of politics then he will fall as he too is part of the 'looney left' as you put it.

  • Comment number 61.

    I would agree two things with the Tories and Liberal loyalists here. The first is that Mr Clegg had to attempt a coalition with Mr Cameron, and second that there was no point in attempting such a deal with Labour.

    Labour clearly lost the election, the Parliamentary arithmetic wasn't there, and any deal which maintained Lord Mandelson in any kind of office would rightly have attracted the contempt of voters.

    Apart from the further damage that economically illiterate cuts will to to Britain, what I fear is this: when the next election comes, we will look at the parties and conclude that, although the country is in a worse mess than ever, politically there is no meaningful choice at all.

  • Comment number 62.

    My advice to David Cameron, watch your back. Your deputy has nothing to gain from remaining in the Lib Dem, and only one thing to gain from becoming a Tory, your job. Never mind the principles, feel the power.

    He would not of course be the first Liberal to see his future in someone else's back yard, remember where Winston Chrchill started. While you are playing Mr Nice Guy David, Nick is setting himself up as the man who will tough it out, make the hard decisions, see the job through to the end. "Is this a dagger I see before me?"

  • Comment number 63.

    Well what do YOU want? Labour ad infinitum with their disastrous ways or a strong articulate well educated talented LARGE group of people who are working together for us. YOU AND ME!

    It's a no brainer really and I think you will find that the country is with them.

    I am no Liberal supporter, an odd lot, but people have to put party politics behind them, tittle tattling and gossiping. Is there no other news at the moment? Pope goes and out come the slings at the coalition.

    Quite disgraceful. We need to sustain them in their onerous task. Never mind, I am sure they take no notice of the meddlesome media and their chattering ad-ons.

  • Comment number 64.

    Nick is no schemer. He is a bloody nice bloke. A handsome one at that.

    Do I detect a little jealousy in all this criticism? No way is he after the top job. He is a decent man doing a decent thing for the country. He doesn't need to skulk around being deceitful or dishonest. He is not ambitious for himself.

    He is an excellent deputy PM to David. End of story.

  • Comment number 65.

    Oh blimey Brown is on the news again. Why doesn't he just push off and take Ken Livingstone with him?

    They just don't know when to give up do they? They can't accept that they were voted out for good.

  • Comment number 66.

    64. is blind they say.

  • Comment number 67.

    I did not vote LibDem but I can see that they are achieving more after 6 months in power to further their principles than as a well meaning pressure group on the opposition benches. Negotiation and compromise are watch words for any coalition but to be able to deliver some of your manifesto pledges is surely better than none - the downside would have been there anyway. If they end up losing seats at the next election at least they will have achieved more than simply having served another five years as part of HM opposition benches.

  • Comment number 68.

    Tonight's YouGov poll has the FibDems at 11%....shame.

  • Comment number 69.


    Look, the lib/dems had a policy to end trident.Cleggs friend Dave has simply moved the trident debate to another time.
    So do Nick and Dave now agree that trident will end, or does Dave simply slap Nick down when the time comes and goes ahead with another 30 years of trident?

  • Comment number 70.

    67 guy

    How come we don't hear about 800,000 people claiming that they are £19.23p better off a week due to the lid/dems?

    Are you advocating that AV is a good compromise on PR?

    Do you seriously expect over a million people will take up voluntary work at a bebefit rate, that doesn't even conform to the legal minimum wage rate?

    Guy, are you also advocating that there should be an English parliament and if so, do you support the Cornish will for an independent Cornwall?

  • Comment number 71.

    Sadly I was too busy working in the public sector to watch Nick deliver the speech but I did read it on the train home this evening. It certainly read like a good speech, a Liberal speech and an intelligent speech laying out precisely why tackling the deficit is so important. Yes he couldn't be triumphalist, celebrating some of the incredibly difficult decisions on reducing government spending from the truly reckless levels of the last decade would be inappropriate at best, but he did lay out the achievements of Liberal Democrats in governments so far and in the remainder of this Queen's Speech.

    As a party member I don't agree with everything this coalition is doing, in much the same way that I didn't agree with everything in our 2010 manifesto. However I absolutely believe that Liberal Democrats in government, guided by their constituents, the country and the party (through conference and in other ways) are good for this country and delivering on the parts of our manifesto that made it through the coalition negotiations.

  • Comment number 72.

    What else could he do? "Stick with me" (= your stuck with me) is the only call he can make. Did anyone think he was going to say: "Sorry I made a big mistake....."?

    Personally I will take a lot of convincing that a man that spent an election campaign telling me that he disagreed with the pace of cuts the Tories were planning, should be trusted when he was secretly thinking they were right.

    But I do hope I am wrong since there are many people whose lives will be badly affected if the Tory right apply the usual solutions to the problems. While Clegg may be able to change Britain for good I would be content if he just stopped the excesses of the Tories.

  • Comment number 73.

    It's ironic to me that a party which has called for proportional representation for so long (a system that virtually guarantees coalition government in perpetuity) now finds itself metaphorically holding its nose at the prospect of the messy business of trying to maintain one in the most difficult economic circumstances for over 30 years. They'd have had to make similar compromises on Trident, education & civil liberties if they'd gone in with Labour. Unfortunate that Labour didn't bring in electoral reform a bit sooner instead of just paying lip-service to it in their manifesto. They might have still had enough parlimentary seats for a working coalition with the LibDems.

  • Comment number 74.

    65. At 10:24pm on 20 Sep 2010, Flame wrote:
    Oh blimey Brown is on the news again. Why doesn't he just push off and take Ken Livingstone with him?

    They just don't know when to give up do they? They can't accept that they were voted out for good
    What arrogance!
    Brown was elected by his constituents and is entitled to take part in national politics. Losing an election does not stop you coming back, Hague was a loser as I recall, but has returned. The personal animosity that is shown to Brown is a sad inditement of our political system.

    Equally Livingstone is entitled to stand for election if he wishes.

  • Comment number 75.

    73 BongoPete

    Look! tighten the skin on your drum. That's an incredible claim?

    If Nick the son of a multimillionare had gone with labour, then he could have approached conference today as a man who had taken the lib...../dems back into office with a manifesto much in line with labours. Now! Clegg just another frontbench millionare with eton values and smeared in lies.

  • Comment number 76.

    It seems to me the strategy is to make the coalition last until 2015 come what may in order to prove to the electorate the Lib Dems are capable of government.

    This is simply putting power before principle.

    Dressing it up as the inevitable compromise of coalition and "grown up politics" doesn't wash and the longer Clegg and his ministers implement Tory polices as they must in order not to break the coalition the more obvious it will become to voters that voting Lib Dem got them just that, Tory policies.

    It's not the headline issue of the deficit that is the problem. All the parties were set to make cuts but it is on wider domestic polices such as Education, the NHS and so on where I believe people will take exception to a very right wing agenda being enacted by this government which they will see as being propped up by power seeking Lib Dems.

  • Comment number 77.

    There is load of cack talked about the deficit. Between 1997 and 2007 the Labour administration ran budget deficits at the same size or smaller than the previous Tory administrations. History has been rewritten since the election by the coalition who assume the public have short memorys and the media will help maintain the story.

    Before 2007/8 there was no widespread panic from the media or economic commentators about structural deficits. The UK was within Eurozone deficit limits. The Tories weren't even particualrly banging on about public sector debt or shrinking the state and in 2005 the public were perfectly happy with the level of debt- returning Labour with a very reasonable majority.

    The Banking crises came and this was an issue that Labour do have responsibility for - as do the Tories who didnt mention a peep about it before it struck. No Tory cries about better bank regulation, house price boom etc

    Neither have the Coalition done anything at all to address the underlying causes of the 2008 recession since being in power. Neither will they, given their ideology and backers.

    The Gov'nor of the Bank of England, IFS etc all put very similar estimates on the cost of the crises at about the same level - £1 Trillion. This is your Budget deficit. Not the Labour spending on the public sector, 1997 - 2010. But the bail out costs of failed Banking institutions, 2008 -2010.

    Clegg and Cameron are not proposing to tax the people who caused the deficit, who can best afford to pay for fixing it (can you say "Bonuses are Back"?). This would also be the mechanims least likely to cause the double dip and 1930's/1980's style gloom and unrest.

    No instead, taxpayers pay for it with VAT increases, people on welfare with lower benefits including pensioners, public sector workers with job cuts, pay freezes and about a million other tortures, all of us with lower quality public servies. More deaths due to NHS cuts. poorer education for children form cuts to schools.

    The Tories we expect this from but Nick Clegg you are a disgrace and you should regret what you are doing to your dying days. Especially the dishonesty of the economic arguments you are making to the public because politically you need to keep the coalition together.

  • Comment number 78.

    When a politician denies something, it's usually true. And this is one of the best examples - this programme of cuts is quite clearly an ideological crusade by the Tories to cut back the state. The current deficit, although obviously needing to be tackled, does not require anything like the measures the Tories are pushing through - just listen to what the economists are saying. These times remind me of the neocons in the US getting virtually carte-blanche post 9/11 to carry out their nasty plans - the fact was they had been planning it for years and were secretly rejoicing at the perfect excuse.

    What a terrible position for the Lib Dems to find themselves in. The seat distribution at the general election meant it was simply too tight to form a government with Labour, leaving them with the difficult choice of coalition with the Tories or forcing the Tories into weak minority government. Given the need for decisive government in the wake of the recession and bloated deficit, forcing a minority govt would have made their key argument about the need for electoral reform look ridiculous. The LibDems needed extremely good judgement in their leadership to come out of this looking good.

    But the fact is that, as is almost inevitable, it's all going wrong for them. Perhaps Clegg was naive not to see what the Tories were really planning, or perhaps he did see it but it didn't concern him. Either way, this is a disaster for the party - a party that clearly has a tradition of leaning towards the centre left and liberal values. Witnessing the leadership sit back whilst education policy and the welfare system are being torn up will turn Lib Dem voters into Labour voters, and the polls are already showing this, with Lib Dem support already almost half it was at the election. What makes things worse for the government are the GDP figures, showing that the Brown/Darling formula was working. A double-dip recession or flat growth will see the currently high support for the Tories fall. With Labour picking up most of all these disaffected voters, and the inevitable honeymoon period for the new leader, we could be seeing Labour at 50% support in opinion polls within a year.

    As I see it, it all depends on the economy. If it starts booming then everyone will love the coalition government for saving the day. Otherwise they will blame it for stunting growth with unnecessarily vicious cuts. If the low poll ratings continue into next year, this will split a party facing wipeout at the general election, and may even force an early general election. Interesting times ahead...

  • Comment number 79.


    Well said. Let's not forget who really put the country in this mess, the people who are again collecting huge bonuses like nothing ever happened! It's us ordinary folk who have to pay the price. The millionaires in power WILL NOT be sharing our pain. I find it difficult to understand why people don't get it.

    I for one will never vote Libdem ever again!

  • Comment number 80.

    God, the lefty sloganeers are out in force again arent they???

    Bit lonely on the sidelines is it, fellas? Arf!

  • Comment number 81.

    49. At 8:57pm on 20 Sep 2010, VeniVediVocali wrote:

    The cuts in Coventry certainly do not seem to be fair. Programmes to support children in deprived areas. Services to support young people getting into work and education. There has not been time to consider the cuts, and they are already happening.

    Knowing Coventry as well as I do, as I was born and dragged up there, it has frequently been its own worst enemy. There are parts of that city that should have been razed to the ground years ago, particularly Stoke Aldermoor, Willenhall, Hillfields and Wood End. I was born in Hillfields and got the hell out at the first opportunity. More clearly than anywhere I've seen, the choices that are made by both parents and kids in Coventry doom them to what they are going to become. It has absolutely stuff all to do with deprivation. "Getting into work and education"? The education has always been there. The standard is not universally poor. You get out of it what you put in. The place is a product of the people in it, particularly the feckless, the violent, the drop-outs, the entitlement generation, who are put to shame by the Sikh and Hindi immigrant communities, people I was at an ordinary comprehensive school with who have seized the opportunities given to them and their parents in the 1960's and 70's and gone on to achieve a hell of a lot. It about character. The place is a microcosm, snapshot of the client state.

    But, hey. Its easier to blame someone else, isnt it?

  • Comment number 82.

    I wonder how many of you - if any - a) actually voted Lib Dem at all and b) How many of you did so out of conviction and are believers in Liberalism.

    Those of you who just voted Lib Dem as a protest vote in an attempt to keep the tories out in areas where Labour stood no chance of winning can hardly crow on here about someone selling out their principles for power.

    YOU sold out what YOU believed in and gave YOUR vote away to someone else purely to assuage YOUR hatred. And YOU have the brass neck to criticize Clegg for his pragmatism?

    God, and you lot have the chutzpah to call the tory right unthinking and thick. Some of you lot take the biscuit!

  • Comment number 83.

    78. At 05:31am on 21 Sep 2010, Mark wrote:
    I really do agree with your remarks, what we will see is a return to the old two party system.
    What a lot of people here do not understand that economics are really not decided at national level! We are in a Global situation and macro economics is part of this, I suppose all those Tories out there would blame the economic problems of other countries on Labour?
    We will see a return to the 80's and I see that the policies of this Coalition not much different from the Thatcher years.
    Americanization of the UK would then be complete.

  • Comment number 84.

    83 - "What a lot of people here do not understand that economics are really not decided at national level! We are in a Global situation and macro economics is part of this, I suppose all those Tories out there would blame the economic problems of other countries on Labour?"

    let me guess, the boom years were caused by Brown's genius as he cleverly manipulated the world economy and the bust years were caused by the world economy over which Brown has no control.

    I don't blame other countries' problems on Labour, some other countries made the same mistakes as Brown, others did not. The UK now has structural debt problems that many other countries avoided. If it was all down to the world economy and nothing to do with Brown, how come many countries are in a much better position than we are in the UK? Shouldn't we all be just as badly off?

  • Comment number 85.

    Please try and see the wood for the trees! Any company or personal financial situation that even vaguely resembled that of this country would render them insolvent and bankrupt. Ideology has to be affordable and the dominance of right or left wing policies have both proven to be damaging and not prevented the corruption that ensues when the pendulum swings their way. Consensus and compromise is the only way that we can navigate our way out of this mess and the coalition is the only way to minimise collateral damage. Case in point – Nuclear deterrent. Tories (and Labour) want to keep it. LibDems want it scrapped. Fact – UK cannot afford it and does not need it. It is purely a lever to get us (politicians and military officers) sitting at the top table as a nuclear power. Face facts! These attitudes of Empire are well past their sell by date and need to be dropped for the sake of appropriate front line capability. (I am a retired Naval Officer)
    Second case – National Health is an ideological nice idea but in truth is a bottomless pit that is never going to be affordable. Self responsibility and imposition of healthy lifestyle is the only ‘cure’ and people who smoke and are overweight need to lose their entitlement to health care. They chose to live unhealthily why should we pay for their treatment?
    Conclusion – you cannot please all the people all of the time so I applaud Nick Clegg and his fellow ministers and MPs for being the Jiminy Cricket to David Cameron’s Pinocchio who I trust not to grow a longer nose whilst addressing the serious business of government in the real world.

  • Comment number 86.

    The question someone should ask Mr Clegg now is: WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE LIB DEMS.
    After all, you vote Lib Dems you get Tories.
    If Mr Cameron decided to throw an election, the Lib Dems will be out on their ear now. The voters who voted for them previously will punish them for selling their principles.

  • Comment number 87.

    84. At 08:54am on 21 Sep 2010, AndyC555 wrote:
    ......The UK now has structural debt problems that many other countries avoided. If it was all down to the world economy and nothing to do with Brown, how come many countries are in a much better position than we are in the UK? Shouldn't we all be just as badly off?.....
    And we are I live in a country that has the same problems the difference is that the taxes are so much higher here than the UK..! NO country is better off! Each country has the same problem they deal with those problems in different ways.If the UK did not have the NHS it would be a wealthier country, if the UK had tax system that reflected the costs then it would even wealthier. The problem in the UK you all want something for nothing. It just doesn't work that way.

  • Comment number 88.

    85. At 09:07am on 21 Sep 2010, Bucaneer wrote:
    In most part I agree with your remarks, however there are fewer countries that don't have coalitions. My point is that in the USA and UK they cannot live with coalitions! They are two party systems that will always swing and never coming to compromises.
    As for the NHS I agree it is a format that will drain the country in time. A simple solution could be just charge to visit the doctors, perhaps this would make people think before using the system.
    People have no idea of costs when you don't pay.

  • Comment number 89.

    I find it mind boggling that people are so narrow sighted as to think that blaming the previous government is sufficient an excuse to justify the situation that the coalition is about to create, or in fact, that it is correct to blame the previous government. The major decisions that caused the UK to require a deficit would have been made by whomever was in power at the time, and it is naive to believe that either a LibDem or Conservative Government would have chosen any differently.

    With Clegg (or mini me, as Cameron no doubt calls him), trying his hardest to sell his recent U-turns to his own party, And people seemingly blissfully ignoring HMRC's recent activity, how are we to believe that the Coalition care about the people who will be hardest hit by all the cuts?

    This isnt a labour vs tory vs Libdem issue, its a libdem vs libdem issue, with some blame thrown at other parties. The conservatives were always going to do something like this, and it was up the LibDem's to try and take the edge off it a little.

  • Comment number 90.

    85 Bucaneer

    " Nuclear deterrent. Tories (and Labour) want to keep it. LibDems want it scrapped. Fact – "

    Wrong! Nick Clegg has done another u-turn here on the nuclear issue and now wants the comprehensive spending review to cut back on the 4 nuclear subs to three.

    Bucanhell! if you want to make statements then try and get thenm right?

  • Comment number 91.

    The number of contributors on this and many other blogs who "will never vote LibDem again" is quite surprising. It is a wonder the LibDems didn't win the general election with a huge majority over Labour and Conservative.

    I thought Clegg made a reasonable speech and will do his best working with Cameron to make this country a better place.

    Sensible discussions between two parties are a breath of fresh air after Blair, Brown, Mandelson, Campbell etc.

    No duplicity, spin, lies smear and deceipt will be much appreciated by the vast majority of the electorate, who were sick and tired of labour.

    What a change it would be if the public and the press had some grit and supported good policy whilst offering alternatives to 'wrong' policy.

    Labour will not learn, they will continue to oppose everything, mistakenly I believe. They still cannot understand the damage they did to this country. People will not forget that it was labour who doubled the tax on the lowest paid workers for a long time.

    Hopefully sensible government fgor a change.

  • Comment number 92.

    '1. At 5:11pm on 20 Sep 2010, craigmarlpool wrote:
    On previous form, why should we believe a word the man says.'


    However, in the spirit of 'two wrongs makes getting and staying in power easier if they're all at it' I am following a funny 'debate' around the rather odd notion in some quarters that was is said vs. done really can't be taken into account:

    The prevailing view, especially by those often invited on to our screens to tell us how to think, seems to be that words count more than deeds. Even if historically contradicting.

    Makes things easier. Or more complex. Depending on whether you seek to rule, or are seeking those best able to represent.

  • Comment number 93.

    Welcome to the new world.

    No more hysterical boasting from the podium about an end to child poverty by 2020; an end to coal fired power by by 2050; high speed broadband to be delivered to all ethnic minorities by 2025.

    There was nothing defensive about Nick Clegg's speech, there was instead a calm intent to reassure, deliver and offer no realsitic alternative.

    WHy is it tha Boris Johnson is enjoying such fantastic approval ratings? Why is it he has nearly double the support of Ken Livingstone and Oona King put together? Because people were turned off by the hysterical preaching and promises of his predecessor and the constant increases in taxes. They were fed up with his relentless championing of Venezuela at the expense of London.

    There are votes in calm. There are no votes in big empty promises.

    Newlabour have left the building....

  • Comment number 94.

    87 - "And we are I live in a country that has the same problems the difference is that the taxes are so much higher here than the UK..!

    NO country is better off!"

    What a very sweeping generalisation. I can only assume you have intimate knowledge of every country in the world. Must take up an awful lot of your time keeping up with the news.

    Isn't there a HYS equivilent in your country? Couldn't you go and talk about your country on that HYS and let us talk about ours on here?

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 95.

    #15 craigmarpool (and other posts with a similar sentiment)
    You quote NC in Sept 2009 and then a year later. In the quotes he takes opposing views and the strong suggestion is that someone who changes his mind is not to be trusted. Yet was it not Keynes who said that when the facts change he changes his mind? A lot happened in the 12 months, not least the huge switch from perpetual opposition to having the responsibility of being in government.
    Being in government should bring a real need to consider the cost and implications of policies whereas being outside enables politicians to propose policies without fully considering the consequences.

  • Comment number 96.

    93 - "There are no votes in big empty promises."

    Sadly, there were for 13 years from 1997. We can only hope that the lesson has been learned by the electorate.

  • Comment number 97.

    Its almost amusing to see the plot unfold. Here we have the white knight riding in to save the nation from the "Evil" that was done by the previous government (deja vu anyone?).
    This time around however, we have the trusty squire of the white knight, (also known as future fall guy) who can carry the weight of the situation on his own shoulders, blindly following the knight wherever he is led.

    Looking a little further into the future, what becomes of the knight and his faithful companion?

    The deficit is reduced, but so is the state. Suddenly the Conservatives have everything they planned for, and are in a situation to make the rich, richer. The poor, poorer. Add to that the bonus of being able to misplace the trusty squire in the next election and everything unfolds nicely.

    The only thing missing in this story is Robin Hood, to come and save the majority of the population from the rich land owners. By this time of course the Class system will be well on its way to making an "Unexpected" comeback, and the lower classes will just have to do the only thing which we are credited with the ability for. Manual labour and breeding.

    Purely a work of fiction of course. I certainly wont be wearing any tights

  • Comment number 98.

    What are these terrible things that the Liberals have sold their souls for?

    Enslavement of all first born? No

    Repatriation of anyone less than third generation British? No

    Instead it's crazy things like an extra £1,000 added to the Personal Tax Allowance taking 900,000 out of tax altogether (Any Labour supporters like to tell us why that wasn't done by them?), things like suggesting that millionaires shouldn't get child allowance (any Labour suporters like to champion the cause of the millionaires who will lose out?), things like suggesting that a benefits system where a family could earn £83,000 and STILL get child tax credits or where an unemployed family could be housed in a property costing £2,000 a WEEK in rent was in serious need of reform (any Labour supporters like to defend those excesses?).

    The Liberals are acting as a brake to some of the wilder Tory elements and helping provide a stable Government.

    I've yet to hear from their critics what the alternatives were. A minority Conservative Government? A Lib/Lab/SNP/DUP alliance? Another election which would have left the country leaderless in the meantime and might have produced a similar result? How would any ofthat been better?

  • Comment number 99.

    97 - "Purely a work of fiction of course."

    You do yourself an injustice. Your post is a work of surreal fantasy which even Terry Pratchet would dismiss as being too fanciful.

  • Comment number 100.

    I believe Clegg is taking a major gamble with the party. The gamble is that support for the Liberal Democrats will grow during the life of this Parliament. The problem is that Gordon Brown made a similar gamble, but the risks to Clegg and his party are far more grave. I have posted more on this here:


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