Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Nick Clegg: Delivering for Britain?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 20th September, 2010

It’s two-and-a-half years since Nick Clegg stood on the platform of the Liverpool Conference Centre as the new, fresh-faced leader of the Liberal Democrats and promised to confront the challenges ahead. But as he said himself in his leader’s speech, once more in Liverpool, this afternoon, there was no way he could have imagined then that he would be speaking to us now as Deputy Prime Minister in a Coalition government that is dedicated to delivering change in Britain. Much of his speech was sombre, as it had to be, given the cuts that the Government says are necessary to implement in order to bring Britain back from the brink of bankruptcy after years of Labour profligacy. And as is inevitable in any coalition arangement (familiar on the Continent, and even in Scotland and Wales, even if it is a novelty at Westminster), neither partner has got exactly the policies it wanted or campaigned on. There are some difficult areas for Liberal Democrats, not least the speed of the cuts and the thorny issue of free schools. But as I said on BBC News, when a TV reporter caught me coming out of the conference hall, we are proud of where Nick Clegg has taken us and we are determined to make this government and the new style of British politics work.

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5 Responses to “Nick Clegg: Delivering for Britain?”

  1. How you imagine this is ‘new politics’ I cannot imagine. He spent forty minutes attacking Labour and promising jam tomorrow. How is it ‘new politics’ to say one thing during an election campaign and then do precisely the opposite afterwards? How is it new politics to pledge and end to ‘political funding scandals’ when the party’s biggest single donor is a crook and the money was never returned.

    You mention the ‘thorny issue of new schools’ and I saw the vote earlier. But what impact will it make on policy? None. It will be ignored.

    The coalition is pressing ahead with nuclear power and it will be Chris Huhne signing them off. Trident replacement might be delayed but that’s got nothing to do with Lib Dem pressure and everything to to with the ongoing row between the MoD and the treasury over who pays.

    Before the election promises of AV were not enough. Only STV would to. Now, it’s unlikely the Lib Dems will get either. But even if AV is defeated in a referendum (if we even get that far) Nick Clegg is sufficiently sanguine that it wouldn’t damage the coalition.

    About £70bn of the deficit is cyclic and will disappear once the economy grows strongly again. The problem with the level of cuts being instituted by the Coalition is that they are highly likely to choke off any growth. Millions from the public sector are likely to lose their jobs, increasing welfare spending at a time when if IDS’ plans (very good plans btw) are introduced such spending would rise anyway. Private industry and lending from the banks is highly unlikely to be able to fill this gap, meaning growth is likely to be sluggish, meaning the cyclic element of the deficit is likely to hang around much further.

    Getting rid of ID cards is a very good thing and I voted for the Lib Dems when they opposed the war in Iraq, but now the party, I’m afraid, is in great danger of oblivion. The Orange book brigade happy to sit with the Tories while the rest will be abandoned.

    Nothing Clegg said today will change any of this.

  2. Ian said

    North Briton
    And who is going to lend to Britain if there are no cuts in public spending?

  3. Ian, I’d sorry but you have utterly misinterpreted what I wrote. Of course there have to be cuts, of that there is no doubt. It is about the pace and balance of cuts, that is the issue. It is something of which Vince Cable was only too aware before the election and during the campaign, but something forgotten by senior Lib Dems once given the opportunity to share power. It is worth pointing out that the electorate voted for a slower pace of cuts at the election, rather than the Tory alternative; an embarrassing fact for the Lib Dem leadership.

    Just in case you have forgotten this is what Nick Clegg told Jeremy Paxman in the middle of April: “Do I think that these big, big cuts are merited or justified at a time when the economy is struggling to get to its feet? Clearly not.”

    Furthermore, there is no danger of Britain not finding sources of lending, to suggest otherwise is plainly absurd.

    And today, according to the CBI, recovery will be slower in the UK next year as a consequence of the government’s cuts. It has reduced its forecast to 2.0%, from 2.5%, quite a substantial reduction which could have been avoided had the government been more skillful. While they did not think the country would slip into a double-dip recession, a large portion of this is that confidence remains high. Whether it will once public sector job losses start to soar and frontline public services are reduced remains to be seen.

  4. Ian said

    If I had said 5 years ago I was concerned about keeping money in a British Bank (or an Irish Bank for that matter) people would have said the banks are as safe as houses.
    The financial crisis is far from over.The European sovereign debt crisis means that Britain cannot make cuts at its own leisure.
    Thailand’s failure to act in 1997 to its own difficulties led to a much greater crisis. No one in Thailand wanted to devalue the Baht but easy options are not always available.
    Have you looked at Anglo Irish Bank’s books recently?

  5. Ian said

    Make that Allied Irish.

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