Nick Clegg’s Blog


Nick Clegg letter to Gordon Brown urging Iraq Inquiry appearance before election
13 January, 2010, 4:32 pm
Filed under: News

Following today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats has written to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, urging him to indicate to the Chilcot Inquiry that he would prefer to appear before it ahead of the election. The text of the letter in full:

Dear Gordon,

I am writing to urge you to indicate immediately to Sir John Chilcot that it is your strong preference to go before the Iraq Inquiry ahead of the General Election.

Following developments yesterday at Alastair Campbell’s hearing, your personal role in the decisions that led to the war in Iraq has now come under the spotlight. The notion that your hearing should take place after the election in order that the Inquiry remains outside of party politics therefore no longer holds. On the contrary, the sense that you have been granted special treatment because of your position as Prime Minister will only serve to undermine the perceived independence of the Committee.

As I said to you across the floor of the Commons today, people have a right to know the truth about the part you played in this war before they cast their verdict on your Government’s record. I urge you to confirm publicly that should Sir John Chilcot invite you to give evidence to the Inquiry ahead of the election you will agree to do so.

Nick Clegg

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The Liberal Democrats are not for sale
5 January, 2010, 9:00 am
Filed under: Inside Westminster, News

The Liberal Democrats are not for sale

5th January 2010

Nick Clegg, The Times

If there is a hung Parliament there will be no under-the-counter deals with either big party

Hostilities have started. The frenzied announcements and counter-announcements from the Conservative and Labour parties over the past few days point towards a long, grinding election campaign.

Much of what we have heard so far is unsurprising: absurd pledges on spending, vitriolic attacks on cuts.

But one development is new: both the old parties now claim to be almost identical to the Liberal Democrats. David Cameron and Gordon Brown are ostentatiously flirting with Liberal Democrat voters, clumsily trying to woo them — and by implication me and my fellow Liberal Democrat MPs.

This year’s general election is likely to be the most open and unpredictable in a generation. So you have a right to know where we stand. I can promise voters wondering whether to put an “X” against the Liberal Democrats that there are no backroom deals or under-the-counter “understandings” with either of the other two parties.

The stance the Liberal Democrats will take matters more than ever because the map of British politics is being dramatically redrawn. Slowly but surely three-party politics has asserted itself. Half a century ago only 2 per cent of voters chose a party other than Labour or the Conservatives. At last year’s local elections, that had shot up to 40 per cent. At the last general election, one in four people who voted supported the Liberal Democrats; six million voters, more than for any other Liberal party in Europe.

So no wonder that both Mr Brown and Mr Cameron are trying to appeal to the millions of people who have long tired of the pendulum politics of Westminster. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so it’s a compliment of sorts that the core values of the Liberal Democrats — fairness in society, real change in politics — are now being mimicked by others. On so many issues in recent years, Liberal Democrat instincts have been in tune with the British public: on Iraq, civil liberties, political reform, the environment, fair taxes, the excesses of the City of London, the rights of Gurkha veterans.

We are, and have shown ourselves to be, very different from the other two parties. My message to Mr Brown and Mr Cameron is simple: the Liberal Democrats are up for real change. We are not up for sale.
Mr Brown and Mr Cameron utter fine words about reform and fairness, but their policies aren’t even close to what’s needed. They both say that tax should be fair, but Mr Brown has created a tax system where the poorest pay a higher proportion of their income in taxes than the rich, while Mr Cameron’s top priority is tax cuts for millionaires.

But Britain faces economic, social, political and environmental crises on an extraordinary scale. So we need an extraordinary government, not more of the same, for these extraordinary times. In the event of a hung Parliament, the British people also deserve to know how the Liberal Democrats will respond. We have two basic principles that I will uphold.

One, we will respect the will of the public. The voters are in charge and the decision is theirs. If voters decide that no party deserves an overall majority, then self-evidently the party with the strongest mandate will have a moral right to be the first to seek to govern on its own or, if it chooses, to seek alliances with other parties.

Two, regardless of the post-election arithmetic or whatever power we are granted, there are four objectives that we will unwaveringly pursue.

First: fair taxes. Our plan would mean that the first £10,000 you earn would be free of income tax. This would be paid for by taxing income and capital at the same rate, phasing out special pension subsidies for highest-rate earners, switching tax from income to pollution and introducing a mansion tax on the value of homes above £2 million.

Second: a fair start for all our children. We will cut class sizes and provide more one-to-one tuition to children by introducing a new “pupil premium” in our schools.

Third: a fair and sustainable economy that creates jobs. We will use the money from one year’s cuts in current spending to create tens of thousands of new jobs in public transport, a national programme of home insulation and new social housing. We will be honest about where savings must be made to balance the books and we will break up the banking system.

And finally, fair, clean and local politics. We will introduce a fair voting system, ensure that MPs can be sacked by their constituents if they break the rules, return powers to local communities and stop tax avoiders from standing for Parliament, sitting in the House of Lords or donating to political parties.

While the other parties set out increasingly implausible lists of promises, the Liberal Democrats will remain focused on this short list of big, structural changes that will make Britain fairer. Neither of the other parties seems willing or capable of delivering them. So the Liberal Democrat message to the voters is clear: if you like what we offer, vote for it. The decision is in your hands.

Nick Clegg is leader of the Liberal Democrats

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Irish ‘Yes’ Vote Paves the Way for Stronger, More Democratic EU
5 October, 2009, 8:21 am
Filed under: News

This result finally puts to rest years of wrangling over Europe’s future and paves the way for a stronger and more democratic European Union.

The worst thing would be to re-open this self-indulgent debate. David Cameron should now finally accept the treaty as a fact of life instead of plotting with Eastern European nations to have it blocked. The Conservatives are already embarrassing themselves and Britain with their petulant impotence on Europe.

Big issues like the economic crisis, climate change and cross-border crime cannot be tackled by any country on its own. The EU offers us safety in numbers and this is why best place for Britain remains at the very heart of Europe.

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Conference 2009: Day 2
20 September, 2009, 8:40 am
Filed under: Conference 2009, News

Nick Clegg

Liberal Democrats Conference 2009

Day 2: Nick’s Agenda Highlights

Sunday 20th September 2009, Bournemouth

– Conference 2009:

14.00: Nick Clegg Leader’s Q & A

– Conference 2009:

18.30: Nick Clegg Fringe Event – Imagining New Britain, Forging a New National Identity with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Full coverage will appear here as events unfold.The Liberal Democrats 2009 Conference runs from 19th – 23rd September 2009.

For a full agenda of the Liberal Democrats 2009 Autumn Conference visit the Liberal Democrats Conference site: Here

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Liberal Democrats Conference 2009: Day 1
19 September, 2009, 12:42 pm
Filed under: Conference 2009, News | Tags:

Nick Clegg

Liberal Democrats Conference 2009

Day 1: Nick’s Agenda Highlights

Saturday 19th September 2009, Bournemouth

– Conference 2009:

12.00: Nick Clegg arrives at Conference

Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats and his wife, Miriam Gonzalez Durantez arrived in Bournemouth today for the 2009 Conference. After speaking to the media they had a coffee on the sea-front.

– Conference 2009:

18.30: Nick Clegg’s opening speech at Conference Rally

Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats has delivered his opening speech to Conference, speaking to activists at the 2009 Conference rally.

The Speech in full:

There’s one simple idea at the heart of this year’s conference. At the heart of everything we do from now until the General Election. It’s this: the Liberal Democrats are the only party offering change for real, change for good.

That’s not always going to be easy. In the current climate it’s going to mean some difficult decisions not least on public spending, where you all know the debate between the parties is raging.

Yes I have said there will need to be cuts, cuts that are savage and bold. But we will make those cuts so that we can be equally fierce – equally savage – about protecting the services that matter most, just as we put the nation’s finances back in order. So if ending tax credits for high earners is the price we pay for cutting class sizes and investing in disadvantaged pupils, so be it. If we need to tell the highest paid public sector staff they won’t get an increase in their pensions, so that we can afford to keep teachers, nurses, policemen and women in their jobs, so be it.

I won’t duck those choices. And in all of them I’ll be guided by our principles, our priorities.

That includes on tuition fees. I believe tuition fees are wrong. I believe they need to be abolished. I want to do it as soon as possible.

But we need to treat people like grown ups, and we need to be realistic. Ending tuition fees would cost billions of pounds every year. We need to be certain we can afford it before we make any promises. But I can make this pledge: at the next election we will have the best, most progressive package for students of any mainstream party: that is my guarantee to you.

Labour’s let the country down and their time is up. The question now is what comes next, what kind of change do we want? The Conservatives simply believe it’s their turn. That they don’t have to work for it, they don’t have to prove themselves. If you want things to be different, really different, then choose different. That’s our message.

George Osborne’s clearly heard that message. Did you hear his recent speech about the Conservatives being the most progressive party in Britain? The Conservatives. George, I think the clue is in the name.

There’s nothing the Conservatives could say now that would surprise me. They’ll promise to be whatever they think people want. Liberal conservatives. Progressive conservatives. Compassionate conservatives. Modern conservatives.

They will say anything to get elected. David Cameron is the conman of British politics. He’s put the con back into the Conservatives. Just telling people what they want to hear. He says he wants to fix the broken society. Yet he’s promised tax breaks to the rich. He talks the talk on the environment. Yet he seeks out climate change deniers as new allies in Europe. He claims he wants a new politics. Yet he won’t even own up to whether or not his big donors pay full British taxes.

He says he’ll balance the nation’s books. Yet his most eye-catching proposal is raising the cost of salads in the House of Commons canteen. It’s an issue of trust. How can anyone trust a word he says? David Cameron offers fake change, not real change. Phoney politics, not new politics. And Britain deserves better.

There is one principle David Cameron, George Osborne and their friends do hold very strongly: they believe people like them are entitled to run this country. I believe power should be earned, not inherited.

People want politicians who mean what they say. I hear it time after time, place after place, especially at the town hall meetings I hold. Believe me, people come along and say what they mean. I ran a kind of town hall meeting at Glastonbury festival this summer under a great big pink tee-pee. Before my opening spiel a man called Merrick offered to warm up the audience. I said ok, stepped to the side, still in full view, a mug of ginger tea in hand. Turned out Merrick isn’t our biggest fan. But he had taken the time to compose a 6-minute poem about us. Which he used to tell me, and the 200-strong crowd, exactly where I could shove each of our policies.

There is something to be said for a bit of stage management. Only a bit though. You have to keep it spontaneous. Cameron doesn’t think so. Did you know you can’t get into a Cameron Direct public meeting unless you hand over personal information and supply photo id. Here’s a man who says he opposes the surveillance state. Yet asking him a question in a village hall is harder than getting in to North Korea.

For my meetings, everyone’s welcome. I tell people – come along, ask me anything, anything at all.

What most people tell me is that they are fed up with the business as usual cop out they get from the establishment parties. Sick and tired of the pendulum that only swings to make Britain stand still. Ready for something different, something we are ready to give them.

Ready because of our values. Ready because of our team. Ready because of you. Values first.

Liberty – the dispersal of power away from the central state downwards to local communities and upwards to international organisations.

Fairness – beginning with the opportunities open to all of our children because that’s the measure by which a society must be judged.

Being green – taking a stand on behalf of the generations that will follow us not just when it’s popular, but, more importantly, when it’s not.

Those principles are enduring. They are the values Britain needs today.

Why else would we keep calling it right on all the big issues?

Iraq.

Climate change.

Northern Rock.

Bankers’ bonuses.

The Speaker.

Trident.

The Gurkhas.

Only the Liberal Democrats stand against populist propaganda on immigration. Against the mass incarceration of our children. Against the colossal surveillance state.

Only the Liberal Democrats were willing to break the silence on the scandalous under-equipment of our troops in Afghanistan.

And only the Liberal Democrats have consistently called for radical reform to scrape out the rot in our democracy. What began with disgust at MPs’ expenses has evolved into a much bigger appetite for change. Liberal Democrats we always knew the time would come when the mere mention of multi-member transferable preferential voting would get pulses racing.

Our party has stayed true to its liberal values, with their long history. And now, in the most centralised country in Europe; ruled by a government that snatches freedom away without a second thought; that flouts international law in our name; that pays lip service to the environment but does so little to protect it; that after twelve years still presides over a society in which if you are poor, female, disabled, gay or from an ethnic minority your life is still harder than other people’s.

In that Britain – this Britain – we are more relevant than ever.

We’re ready because of our team. I am privileged to lead the most dynamic team in Parliament. With our outstanding Shadow Chancellor: Dr Vince Cable.

Danny Alexander, Chris Huhne, Sarah Teather, Ed Davey, David Laws, Norman Lamb, Julia Goldsworthy, Steve Webb. If I go through the whole superstar roll call we’ll be here all night. And day in, day out, I benefit from the support and advice of people without whom the party would not be what it is today: Shirley, Paddy, Charles, Ming.

Our team is ready. All of our MPs: confident, capable. And ruthless. Trust me, I’m regularly reminded of how ruthless – savage even – they are. I went to Leeds and my rugby team was thrashed by Greg Mulholland’s. In Sutton Paul Burstow pulled a better pint than me. I was beaten in a skipping competition by Jeremy Browne. On a trip to the arctic, Jenny Willott’s obliviousness to the cold put my whimpering to shame. And in Cornwall I entered a pasty crimping competition only to be told Julia Goldsworthy’s crimping was better than mine. A decision I still contest.

Finally it’s because of the work you do that we are now ready to embrace the opportunities ahead. The streets you pound, the hours you toil, the phone calls you make, the sheer tenacity with which you confront every challenge. Because of that, this time, this election, it will be different.

I know why you do it. I know why you campaign tirelessly, on a shoe string, come rain or shine. I know why you replace remote after remote every time another one gets hurled at the TV screen.

Because we are people who look at the world and seek to change it. Restive. Optimistic. Ambitious.

Because we’re not going through the motions, we’re going for broke.

We’re not in this to do our best, we’re in it to make history.

And because we know that the Liberal Democrats hold the values that will make this country great. Because we know that our moment is coming. Because we know that this time it is going to be different.

Thank you.

Full coverage will appear here as events unfold.The Liberal Democrats 2009 Conference runs from 19th – 23rd September 2009.

For a full agenda of the Liberal Democrats 2009 Autumn Conference visit the Liberal Democrats Conference site: Here

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Liberal Democrat 2009 Autumn Conference in Bournemouth
18 September, 2009, 8:38 am
Filed under: News, Nick Meets..., Outside Westminster | Tags:

Conference 2009

Bournemouth 2009 will be one of our most important Conferences ever.

This is the last autumn Conference before a general election. With Labour finished and much of the country still unconvinced that Cameron’s Conservatives offer anything better, this is an extremely exciting time for our party.

The ideas we agree in Bournemouth will shape the choices we offer voters at the next General Election. I’m proud that we are the only mainstream political party that has its policies decided by its members.

We’re here to debate the things people really need – like tax cuts for people on low and middle incomes paid for by closing loopholes for the wealthy; like creating green jobs to help the economy recover and make our environment more sustainable; and like making sure every child gets the best chance in life.

It’s our duty both to set our vision for a better, different future and to explain to the British people the tough choices a Liberal Democrat government would take. Labour won’t be honest about their plans. The Conservatives simply refuse to spell out what they will do. But the Liberal Democrats will. Over the last few years we’ve been ahead of the curve on every major event in British politics – not least of all on the collapse of the banks, with Vince taking the lead in exposing government failure.

From overhauling MPs’ expenses, to giving all Gurkha soldiers the right to stay in the UK, to calling for ID cards to be scrapped, we’ve led the way on the issues that matter. Now is our chance to capitalise on that momentum and outline our vision for a fairer, greener and stronger Britain.

At the heart of that vision is the simple idea that it’s time for something different. Ours is a voice for a different politics, where votes are fair, decisions are transparent, influence can’t be bought and governments are held to account. And it’s a voice for a different way of managing the economy, based on honesty about what the country can afford, new regulation to stop the banks from ever gambling us into recession again, and green investment to create jobs.

Now that the established orders in both politics and economics are crashing down, we have a golden opportunity to win support for the fundamental change that our country needs.

You won’t hear the other two parties making the same commitments. They can’t, they’re part of the status quo; not part of the solution but part of the problem.

It’s because of our principles – fairness, freedom, trust in people, protecting the environment – that we can offer people the hope for a different future, even in the very tough economic times that are to come.

With Labour finished and the Conservatives still more spin than substance, the Liberal Democrats will continue to speak out for what’s right, because no other party can.

See you all in Bournemouth!

Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

You can follow Conference: Here

My website NickClegg.com is also covering my Conference: Here

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Rosh Hashanah Greetings
18 September, 2009, 8:34 am
Filed under: Inside Westminster, News

I wish everyone in the Jewish community shanah tovah and a peaceful, successful and sweet new year. May the shofar mark the beginning of a festival of rest and reflection for Jews in Britain and around the world as they celebrate this festival with their friends and families.

May this year be one in which Jewish communities throughout the world live in tranquillity without fear of anti-Semitism and may it be a prosperous and productive year for us all. I hope that the coming year will see progress towards peace between Israel and its neighbours.

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