Nick Clegg was in a jolly good mood this afternoon when he strode into the conference hall for his question-and-answer session. His success (which may be halted shortly when conference votes on tax) in three votes over the last two days n nuclear power, tuition fees and the economy meant that he could be confident when taking questions from activists that they were largely for, not against, his vision. He took the opportunity to remind activists that the Lib Dems hardly campaigned on an anti-austerity platform in 2010, saying:
‘It’s not a thing that’s been imposed on us by the Conservatives, we went in with our eyes wide open to the last general election that whoever was in power next would have to deal with this huge black hole that had opened up in our public finances. It’s really important not to somehow almost portray it as if we’re hapless, passive recipients of this.’
He also pointed out that the spending cuts were not a “small-state” plot, and we’re hardly rolling back the state to some Victorian-style settlement.
Clegg was particularly happy about his party’s achievements on tax, rounding off the whole session by reminding the Conservatives that though they are trying to claim credit for the increase in the personal allowance for income tax, this was a Lib Dem policy. The party needed to remember how much it had achieved from its 2010 manifesto as it looked ahead to 2015, he said.
And the Lib Dem leader also took (yet another) swipe at those controversial ‘go home’ vans, saying they were driving round ‘aimlessly’.
At some question-and-answer sessions in the last few years, Clegg has been a little huffy and puffy with activists. But today he seemed entirely relaxed. Nothing like a trio of votes endorsing policies that your party has been quite upset about in the past to give you a little spring in your step.Tags: Lib Dem conference 2013, Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, UK politics