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 888.

    Liberals will never be part of another alliance, I don't think either party would have them, the coalition has done them more harm than good.
    Clegg has had a little taste of power which he could have never have have on his own, and has decided to flirt for all he's worth to get the chance to keep it going.

  • rate this

    Comment number 887.

    Clegg has finished off his own party by enabling the Tories to do a car boot sale of what little remains of the UKs assets after the earlier auctions of gas, electricity, water and telecomms . At the same time the average UK citizen has had their standard of living purposely eroded - often with the double whammy of being used as a scapegoat for the poor economic climate. He's curbed nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 886.


  • rate this

    Comment number 885.

    Nick Clegg has abused the trust of a nation to grab and hold on to power at any cost. Nobody in their right mind would vote for you or your party. At the last election you stated that you wanted a 3-party system in the Uk, how ironic then that you have completed destroyed any chance of that happening during your time in bed with the tories.

  • rate this

    Comment number 884.

    All this negative feedback (rightly so) for Clegg, but I hope the same goes for Cameroon, we don't want any of these career out of touch politicians in power again, they should all be sent back to their think tanks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 883.

    Please Mr voter, can I have some more !

    Pathetic !

  • rate this

    Comment number 882.

    @868.All for All
    How elequently put.

    Rather like the present rush for a greener way of life.
    Cleggy's Spanish wife gets a job with a Madrid wind farm that's in direct competition to UK. The amount of pollution it takes to make these and the blight on the visual landscape.
    Economical? NO - but it gives the top people a load of cash that is passed to the poor as large bills with added GREEN Taxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 881.

    I saw the lib dem broadcast tonight and Clegg just loves asking what we will be doing with our extra £600 a year.

    Let us put it into perspective. At £600 a year it would take 45 years to pay off a students University fee's. Probably their entire working life even if retirement ages continue rising.

    These are the same fee's Clegg 'pledged' to do away with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 880.

    Clegg you went from being the most popular lib dem ever, mostly because of students. To being the most hated over night because you jumped in bed with the Tories. Im paying 8 grand a year now because you have no backbone, your own party doesn't want you Muppet turned Puppet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 879.

    I'm beginning to think Clegg genuinely has mental health issues. It's like he's never woke up from his TV appearance before the election, and really doesn't understand that the electorate despises the LibDems for their backstabbing, even the other day he wanted to go to war. The guy clearly can't reconcile what he's done, so just ignores it. That is the definition of delusion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 878.

    Does Clegg not realise that a coalition after the next election with any party other than the Torys will demand his resignation as leader. I suspect his own party already want this if their to have any chance in 2015 as their electorate have been repeatedly betrayed no matter how he tries to gloss it over. His partys reputation is at an all time low for which he as Deputy PM is solely responsible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 877.

    Anxious @869
    "no worthwhile party"
    Vote Green

    Many egalitarians voted tactically for Labour or Lib Dems in past, in fear of more anti-egalitarian Tory rule. Some will have reproached the Green Party for failing formally to ask its (at times) significant support to vote tactically. But the tactical vote gave us the Blair ego, and the Cameron assault. Time to register votes toward equal democracy

  • rate this

    Comment number 876.

    Ach Nick ! sailing in victory in 2015 Election I'll give you my chancecse Wanna BET?

  • rate this

    Comment number 875.

    I have no confidence in any political party today, I have no wish to vote for anyone. Politics is merely a playground for the rich and privileged to seek personal and ideological gains, not to benefit the country as a whole.

  • rate this

    Comment number 874.

    There is a word for somebody who wants to cling to something to benefit of something (power) but give nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 873.

    I doubt Clegg will get a seat next time.Hanging on by his fingernails now.How can it be' fair' for people to wait 2 years for this increase in tax allowances( worth even less now) when the rich got their reduction next tax year.Another big rise is due already.He just wants to sit at the table and so will do as he is told.

  • rate this

    Comment number 872.

    You must be joking mate. Clegg you are absoultely off your rocker. But thats okay, because as of 2015, you'll be off my screen and out of my consciousness too.

    I wouldn't vote for any of you but I will be voting tactically to have you removed. You are a political irrelevance. More so now than you were before power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 871.

    Are there any parties left which represent the liberal voter?

  • rate this

    Comment number 870.

    "We cannot stand idly by and let them do it all over again"

    Er, that's exactly what you have done for the last three years you prat !

  • rate this

    Comment number 869.

    As far as I can calculate, there is no worthwhile party to vote into office.

    The UK is now split into so many smaller parties that it would be almost impossible for them to get a majority vote to mandate them overall power.

    The adage is "Divide to conquer and rule".

    Perhaps we have allowed the system to defeat ourselves?


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