Put us back in government in 2015, Nick Clegg says


Nick Clegg: "We are now where we always should have been"

Nick Clegg has urged the British people to put the Liberal Democrats back in government in 2015 to curb the excesses of the Tories or Labour.

"We are the only party that can finish the job of economic recovery, but finish it fairly," he told the Lib Dem conference in Glasgow.

After three years of coalition Britain was now a "step closer" to the death of single party government, he claimed.

He also spoke at length about his family and personal values.

The BBC News Channel's chief political correspondent Norman Smith said Mr Clegg stuck to the argument he has been making all week - namely that coalition government works and the Lib Dems want another go at it.

In a 51-minute speech aimed at preventing the Conservatives from claiming all the credit for the economic upturn, Mr Clegg said Lib Dem policies such as infrastructure spending and more apprenticeships had made all the difference.

"The big question mark that has always hung over the Liberal Democrats - could we handle government? And handle it when the going got tough? - that question mark is now gone.

"This recovery wouldn't be happening without us."

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It is quite a radical message, an argument that the last three years of coalition should not just be an historical aberration but a permanent fixture. ”

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He said Lib Dems had proved wrong the critics who said coalition would never work - but he also looked ahead to the next election, saying that "left to their own devices" Labour or the Tories would "mess it up".

Speaking openly about forming a power sharing deal with the two bigger parties - something he avoided doing before the last election - he said: "Labour would wreck the recovery. The Conservatives would give us the wrong kind of recovery."

He listed a series of Conservative policies which he claimed the Lib Dems had blocked, including "inheritance tax cuts for millionaires, profit-making in schools, firing workers at will, regional pay for public sector workers, scrapping housing benefit for young people, ditching the human rights act and closing down the debate on Trident".

'Values and beliefs'

But he stressed that the Lib Dems were "no-one's little brother", adding: "We have our own values and beliefs."

The speech contained no new policies, following Tuesday's headline-grabbing announcement on free lunches for all children in their first three years at school in England.

Saying Lib Dems would extend the scheme to all primary school children, he said: "Their (the Conservatives) priority is to help some families over others, with a tax break for married couples.

"That tells you everything you need to know about their values."

Nick Clegg's full speech to the Liberal Democrat conference

By contrast, he said his party was helping "young children get the best possible start in life, and that tells you everything about ours".

The Lib Dem leadership have seen off challenges from activists to its nuclear weapons and economic policies, although delegates voted for a review of housing benefit rules - what critics call the "bedroom tax".

And he scoffed at suggestions that coalition was all about personal chemistry between the party leaders, saying any coalition depended on the result of the election.

The party of 'in'

In what will be seen as a hint that he is thinking of stepping down after the next election, he told activists in Glasgow that he "will not be in politics forever".

But he used the speech to set out how his liberal values came to be formed, his "privileged" childhood and his "internationalist" outlook.

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Rarely can there have been more of a gap between how a party sees itself and how it is seen by many of those outside politics”

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He said the Lib Dems had always backed "home rule" for Scotland but would be urging a "no" vote in next year's independence referendum to keep the UK together.

But he hoped the cross-party consensus would continue after the referendum to push for "the next advance in Scottish devolution".

And he said the Lib Dems would be the party of "in" when it came to an EU referendum.

Summing up what his pitch would be at the next election, he said: "In the past the Liberal Democrats would eke out an existence on the margins of British politics.

"Now we hold the liberal centre while our opponents head left and right. I have spent my entire life watching the other two mess it up. We cannot stand idly by and let them do it all over again."

Lib Dem colleagues praised Mr Clegg's "intensely personal speech" but Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman said that, far from restraining the Conservatives, the Lib Dems had backed them all the way.

"He didn't mention the million young people out of work on his watch, the tax cuts for millionaires his party helped to introduce, or the cost of living crisis that means that since he became deputy prime minister wages are down an average of £1,500 a year," she added.

"Nothing he said today made any difference to the fact that Nick Clegg is propping up a Tory-led government that's making things worse for ordinary families."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Life long Lib Dem voter - never again. He betrayed all party principles re proportional representation offer that was on the table curtsey of Gordon Brown. Total nonentity. Can't see them ever having any access to power. If they were representative of the public will we would have had some prosecutions around financial misconduct in City of London.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    No thanks. I'd rather French-kiss a rattlesnake than vote Lib Dem again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    id rather have labour anyday than lib dems ors tories. bunch of idiots

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    I couldn't agree more Nick, I couldn't agree more.

    The only party that brings an ounce of common sense, trust and faith into our politics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Just 'lol'.

    There was a time when i contemplated shifting my alliance their way. Now.... well, i'm giving serious thought to not voting at the general election. They are all the same; deluded, out-of-touch, self-serving career politicians.

  • Comment number 103.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    I have lost faith in the Lib-Dems....they seem like a Chameleon Party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    At least you knew you were getting an evil and nasty govt with the tories. But for the libdems to prop up that spitefulness and bile?

    Bye bye libdems. You bunch of weak, unprincipled power-hungry liars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Just astonishing nonsense, the man's in complete denial. Clegg, it was over as soon as you welched on the Uni fees issue.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    They will get my vote in 2015 as there is no way in the world that I could support either of the two main parties, and UKIP and the Green party are too right and left field for my liking.

    Mind you, as the seat has only ever been won by Labour or Conservative candidates it is virtually the same as not voting anyway.

    Our version of democracy is broken.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    He belongs in politics as much as royal mail should be sold off.......He ruined his career 3 years ago and should be mopping floors at his local McDonalds. The insidious creature ruined the Liberal Democrats credibility and ruined the country all in one day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Who's going to believe a word Nick Glegg and the Lib Dems say. Ask the students of this country, they are our future and they will never forget how they were lied to. Also ask the poor, the disabled and the unemployed, who the Lib Dems attack at every opportunity. FAIR he doesn't know the meaning of the word......Can't wait for 2015.....bye bye.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    There are enough idiots in government at any one time, but the ratio increased greatly in May 2010 when Clegg and his fellow dim wits appeared in government. They need to remember that they were not elected - and never will be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    What a meddlesome and infuriating bunch of non entities they are, a tiny bunch inflicting misery on all and who would change sides quicker than a Pancake on Shrove Tuesday.

    Definitely to be avoided at all costs and certainly never to be trusted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    After waiting a lifetime to prove that my vote wasn't wasted on them, the LibDems finally got their chance in 2010 to prove that Liberal values could really make a difference and they could change the face of British politics.

    But you blew it Nick, you let me down, you let your Party down, you let your voters down. You became yellow Tories in order to keep yourselves in power.

    You sold out

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    I find lots of these posts scary.

    In the 2010 election nobody had a majority so no one party could form a Government.

    So why rant on about failed promises?

    For 2015 the main parties need to make sure that they have 2 manifestos - one for being in Government and another for what they would aim to achieve being in coelition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Great speech by a man for whom until recently I wouldn't have voted. He's helped keep labour from doing more damage, and has developed into the best and bravest Party leader this country has seen since Margaret Thatcher. Masterly work. Let all Libdems wake up and get behind him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    And you believe him?!?!? I bet the reporters were laughing out loud (lolling) as he was waffling away... Lib Dems blew any chances of successive power by not addressing the appalling costs of energy, student loan fiasco, bedroom tax and assault on the most vulnerable and the cosy relationship with the city... adios Clegg

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    The man is in total denial and his Party had better waken up to the fact and do something about it or they will definitely be wiped out at the next election. He's a "basket case".

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    come on cleggy, we do not need you and no one in there right mind would vote for you, your record so far stinks, it,s you liberal idiots that stopped and caused have the problems in schools etc, and will not scrap human rights that makes you all half witttttts.


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