Rescue mission continues - Nick Clegg new year message

Nick Clegg has warned Lib Dems many great challenges lie ahead for everyone in the UK

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The UK has been "pulled back from the brink" by a government which remains focused on its "economic rescue mission", Nick Clegg says.

In a new year message to Lib Dems, the deputy PM said next year "poses many great challenges for everyone".

He said the coalition government had had to make very difficult decisions, but they were "the right ones for the long-term good".

"There are no easy years when you are in government," he said.

In the video message, he told his party faithful it was the Lib Dems who had ensured the government was helping people.

"When I recorded this message last year I spoke about how the most important job for Liberal Democrats was dealing with the economic problems we inherited," Mr Clegg said.

"Twelve months on, that task remains the number one priority for our party and the coalition."

He said: "We have had to make some very difficult decisions, but they've been the right ones for the long-term good of our country. A country that was at risk of falling prey to the international markets has been pulled back from the brink."

Start Quote

What we're doing as a party, and as a coalition, it's not easy, but it's right. ”

End Quote Nick Clegg Deputy Prime Minister

Referring to the continuing eurozone crisis, he went on: "We only need to look at what is happening in countries on our European doorstep to see what we could have ended up dealing with in 2011.

"But that economic rescue mission is not over yet and there is much more we must do. That's why, thanks to the Liberal Democrats, the government has been helping people get through these difficult times with measures to make life fairer and easier."

Domestically, Mr Clegg highlighted Liberal Democrat policies aimed at helping the poorest, including lifting nearly a million low-paid workers out of paying income tax under changes to the personal allowance limit.

'Changing economy'

He said more than a million children had received a "fairer start in life" through extra support provided in schools under the Pupil Premium funding system alongside free early years education for toddlers.

Mr Clegg said: "Throughout, we have taken big long-term decisions that will change the way our economy works for the better - rebalancing our economy away from the City of London towards stronger, more sustainable growth. And next year we will do more."

He mentioned a planned Green Investment Bank, more apprenticeships, and funding for struggling areas through the Regional Growth Fund.

He added: "What we're doing as a party, and as a coalition, it's not easy, but it's right. We are putting the interests of the country first, and we have taken the first steps towards building a fairer, greener and more liberal country.

"We have worked flat out to restore confidence in the economy and started to transform Britain for the better."

Deputy leader Simon Hughes repeated the same message during an appearance on BBC Radio 4's The World at One, saying it was always harder in government than in opposition but the party must "hold our nerve".

He said Lib Dems had already achieved about two thirds of the things they had gone into the last election promising, and, as a result of "stepping up to the plate" had helped to make Britain a fairer place.

"When we come to the next election, I think we will be able to look back and not only show we have continued to hold our nerve and help get the country out of the biggest economic mess we have had since the last world war, but that we did so making sure the most vulnerable and the least well off were better protected."

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