Coffee House

Clegg previews the Lib Dems’ election pitch

11 March 2012

3:26 PM

11 March 2012

3:26 PM

Nick Clegg’s speech today was a preview of what the Liberal
Democrat argument will be in 2015: coalitions work and we’re the ‘one nation’ party who will ensure that the government is fiscally credible but fair.

This strategy is the leadership’s best hope for the next election. But it is reliant on coalition government being seen to work, something which isn’t going to be the case if the coalition
partners continue to wash their dirty linen in public.


In terms of the coalition, there were a few interesting lines in the speech. Clegg said that the Budget ‘must offer concrete help to hard-pressed, hard-working families: a big increase in the
income tax threshold, further and faster towards £10,000.’ Having ramped up the rhetoric so far on this issue, anything less than a thousand pound increase in the personal allowance
will be an embarrassment to the deputy Prime Minister. He also again stated as fact that there would be elections to the House of Lords before 2015 as well as reiterating Lib Dem support for
‘home rule’ for Scotland.

Clegg’s speech also ensured that the internal Lib Dem row over tycoon tax would continue, mocking Lord Oakeshott’s opposition to it with the
line the ‘only person against the tycoon tax is one of our tycoons’. Oakeshott, an ally of the Business Secretary Vince Cable, is unlikely to take this lying down.

One other thing worth noting is the warm applause that came when Clegg paid fulsome tribute to Chris Huhne. It was another sign of how keen the Lib Dem leader is to keep this former Cabinet
minister on board. 

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Show comments
  • Frank P


  • Dimoto

    According to the Sunday Times, it isn’t Oakeshott who is most upset by Cleggy’s Tycoon tax (sic), but another unelected, obscure LibDem lord, ‘Lord Newby’.

    Just how many of these ‘Lords’ constantly pulling Clegg’s strings are there ?

    One is tempted to paraphrase Samuel Pepys: “By God, methinks the devil shits LibDem peers”.

    What total incoherance from Cleggy.
    They will go on a platform that coalitions work and are warm and cuddly.

    A few weeks ago, the Spoeccie treated us to a primitive LibDem “graph”, which was supposed to show that their strategy was to progressively distance themselves from the Conservatives and make more and more trouble.

    Was Cleggy’s version for the consumpion of the naive electorate only ?

  • Tiresias

    It is impossible to support “hard pressed, hard working” people if one one also believes that the government must be supporting the not so hard pressed non-working family with more than £26,000 a year.

  • Jan Cosgrove

    Trouble is, to think people will see Clegg as the man whose party ensured “fairness” has one slight flaw – it’s bollocks. The Tories won’t go along with that except in one situation – that we arrive at the same situation after next Polling Day as we did in May 2010. Then they’ll cobble up another coup-by-coalition. What’ll Cleggy promise to match ‘No Tuition Fees’ et al?

  • oldtimer

    The political class appears not to understand that raising the tax threshold, desirable although it would be, will not be enough to resolve the growing UK unemployment problem. That will require a change in attitude to the whole structure of taxes on jobs (income tax and NIC levels), on the capital required for investment (CGT) and on corporation tax rates. On these several fronts the UK is internationally uncompetitive – though there is a jam tomorrow suggestion from the Chancellor on corporation tax.

    The public debate on, and mood about, wealth creation and wealth creators is hostile. Add in an energy policy that discriminates against efficient energy sources (an essential industrial requirement), and must wonder why anyone would want to risk substantial amounts of fresh capital in this country`s economy. There are richer pickings to be found elsewhere.If I were looking at the UK from such a perspective, I would consider there to be a significant political risk attaching to new investment here. Mr Clegg` speech would have done nothing to reassure me.

  • MilkSnatcher

    Can I commend the deviously witty way in which you are selecting pictures of Clegg at the LibDem Spring Seance.

    In the preceding item, he is adopting a Kim Jong-Il pose, emphasising an important point to the adulation of an imaginary crowd, reminding us of the degree to which he has lost touch with reality.

    In the picture above, he is clearly dancing a tango with himself, dog-whistling to his Coalition partners that he should be made Ambassador to Spain when his term of office comes crashing to a humiliating end in 2015 or sooner.

  • Archimedes

    Oakeshott always sounds like he’s on the verge of breaking into a desperate tantrum of tears. The kind of chap that’s more heart than brain, and a bit of a dodgy ticker at that. The kind of chap Evelyn Waugh might have said could not be trusted to vote. Why does he have a place in the Lords?

  • Archimedes

    Credit where it’s due – the LibDems do always pick a wonderful shade of orange/yellow for their party; an almost hypnotic one in fact. No doubt they ponder the beauty of it as they cross their sandled feet and dream of the days when people are as beautiful as their party manifestos, and everyone is happy and Iran disarms and joins the EU – if only the tories got out the way it would probably happen tomorrow, I mean probably anyway.

  • rosie

    Who would want to go into coalition with immature spoilsports who can’t continue after the first heady days of office to see the national interest as the over-riding consideration? Who can’t even see their own future electoral fortunes depend on making coalition a success? Who would trust them to keep to a pact?

  • Russell

    Nice to hear the loudmouth Oakshott put in his place. Why oh why is this ridiculous man constantly on tv? A man who can’t keep his big mouth shut when someone else is speaking, and shouting over everyone. A thoroughly obnoxious man.

    Nothing else of note for me out of the entire LibDem conference.