Monday, March 15, 2010

In which I criticise Nick Clegg's speech to Conference

While I've been working this afternoon I've been listening to Nick's speech to Lib Dem Spring Conference in Birmingham. I think it's always best to actually listen to these things, although if you want to read it, you can do so here.

I am going to be critical - but only about the quality of the video. Dark suit and black backdrop do kind of make him look a bit strange.

It really must be a nightmare to wake up on the morning of a keynote speech with a bad throat, but despite that Nick did really well.

It had all the things that it needed to have. A bit of humour - I liked the bit where he said that Gordon Brown had done better with Piers Morgan than he had. Mind you, Piers Morgan isn't one of Nick's best friends and wasn't writing the GQ piece as a hagiography.

I liked it when he compared Labour's future funfair for all slogan to advertisingr a second voyage on the Titanic.

I really liked the bit where he told the country's 45 million voters that, actually, they didn't have to take the crap they have been given over the last 30 years because "that's the way things are".

We'll hear a lot about wasted votes in this election, too and he outlined what he felt a wasted vote was:

I know there are many people who listen to the Liberal Democrats and really like what they hear.
But you worry that your vote would be wasted. You worry that your choice won’t make enough of a difference. So you are thinking of giving your vote to someone else. Some people are thinking of holding their noses and voting for Brown just to keep out the Conservatives. I say to you: don’t do it.

Some people are thinking of holding their noses and voting for Cameron just to get rid of Labour. Don’t do it. You have a once in a generation opportunity for real change.
A wasted vote is one that throws that opportunity away.
A wasted vote is one for a party that is stuck in the past.
A wasted vote is one for a party you don’t believe in.

How do you want to feel when you wake up on May 7th and hear the news? Would you smile at the prospect of five more years of Gordon Brown? Would you be thrilled if a Conservative government was now in charge?

If the answer is no, then don’t give them your vote. If you vote for less… you will get less. If you compromise on them… they will compromise on you. Just good enough – is not good enough any more.

The speech was full of really good practical stuff about how we would make a difference on tax, taking everybody earning less than £10,000 per year out of tax, on children, investing in education to make sure that nobody was disadvantaged by a poor background, on cleaning up politics - he used the C-word to describee the expenses scandal, too, and on building an economy that won't go bust.

All in all, a clear speech, which wasn't just a list of policies, but showed our liberal mindset. What struck me, because I've been around for a long, long time, is that these are consistent with the values we were talking about 30 years ago - fairness and sustainability. You can't say that for Labour and the Tories.

1 comment:

Philip Peake said...

It wasn't just the quality of video: I thought that about suit/backdrop from the hall. Great content though; and wonderfully delivered despite a sore throat.


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