I wish I had the time to analyse their contributions minute for minute because I guess the largest proportion of what Nick said would be positive and largest proportion of the Labservatives' would be negative.
I guess that we should feel complimented by the attention. We don't mind scrutiny. Heavens, there aren't many parties who wear their hearts on their sleeve like we do. We're pretty open. We're also generally people who are hardwired to question everything they're told anyway, so we actually welcome the debate. What is wrong, though, is just to tell lies about us like both David Cameron and Gordon Brown did last night.
Dave's dog whistle had been polished and put in pride of place. I'd heard his manifesto described earlier in the campaign as a hard bound version of the Daily Mail. He was almost like Paul Dacre's poodle last night.
On immigration, I wonder how concerned people really would be about the subject if they weren't being told on a daily basis how bad it is by the right wing press. I mean, I've heard the Daily Mail line on doorsteps in places in Scotland where you could go days without meeting any immigrants. People are saturated in this sort of nonsense and in my experience, sitting down with them quietly and explaining the facts tends to reassure them that Sharia Law isn't going to be introduced tomorrow.
I have to claim an interest of sorts in that I've helped numerous people who have had horrendous difficulties with the immigration system. Decent people, often vulnerable, every one of them, whose treatment at the hands of our immigration authorities has made me ashamed to be British: the mother sent to the other side of the world from her breastfeeding baby (against their own Home Office policies) essentially to fill in some forms; the gay man told he would have to go back to his home country to face persecution and possibly death; the newly married couple split up on a technicality, unable to enjoy their lives together because one can't get in here and the other can't get into the spouse's home country. There's also the case of Rima Andmariam, a 17 year old Eritrean girl who could be separated from the loving family she's found in Glasgow and sent to Italy. Help her, please, if you can.
The disgraceful pandering of the Conservative Party to the Daily Mail line has led them to come up with a completely unworkable policy that they can't enforce. As Nick Clegg pointed out last night, 80% of our inward immigration comes from the EU - and many more British people go out to live in various places of the EU, too. Those figures quoted by Nick and which David Cameron refused to accept when challenged stack up as the Economist shows:
"Workers from outside the EU make up just one-fifth of all immigrants when students (who pay valuable tuition fees) are excluded."
David Cameron alluded to an extra 1.2 million people who would be straining our public services under our anmnesty, based on 600,000 people being granted citizenship and all of them bringing in one person. Let's be clear:
DAVID CAMERON IS MAKING THIS FIGURE UP
The truth is that since the Tories abolished exit controls, nobody knows how many illegal immigratns are here, although the LSE reckons it's around 725,000.
Our manifesto talks about an earned route to citizenship for those who can show they've been here for 10 years or more. Brown and Cameron seized on this as something that would open the floodgates to people to come here and get rewarded for doing the wrong thing. I wonder which part of
"this earned route to citizenship will not apply to anyone arriving in the UK after 2010"
they don't understand.
Only a small proportion of people would qualify for the strict conditions of that earned route to citizenship - have been here for 10 years, speak English, have no criminal record and want to commit to Britain in the long term. Even those who do qualify are unlikely to have a spouse or child abroad as they will have been living and working in the UK illegally for at least 12 years (after they have done our 2 years of probationary citizenship). In fact, it's much more likely that they will have formed relationships and had children in this country who are using public services but who they are not paying for because they are not paying tax.
I am actually doling out a small smack on the wrist to Nick for forgetting to remind people that there is already a "secret amnesty", operated by both sorts of Labservative government, for those who can prove they've been here or 14 years. He spoke about this on Andrew Marr last week and it could have done with another airing in front of a larger audience.
Moving swiftly on to the Euro, which David Cameron tried to portray us as drooling to join, again what part of
"We believe that it is in Britain's long term interests to join the Euro but Britain should only join when the economic conditions are right and in the present economic situation they are not. Britain should only join the euro if that decision were supported by the people of Britain in a referendum."
can they not read and understand? Ok, we are better disposed to the Euro if it's in Britain's interests, but isn't that better than a refusal to consider it on principle even if it would benefit Britain? And, under our plans, you get the chance to have your say - the Tories, by the looks of it, wouldn't give us that choice. I have to say I was a bit surprised by my 10 year old, just as she was about to fall asleep last night, saying "Mummy, I want to join the Euro." Seriously, that just came out of nowhere.
Oh, and before you dismiss anyone on benefits as a scrounger, imagine how it would be if your only income was around £65 per week. Most people trapped in that life desperately want out and the Liberal Democrats offer a way out. Alistair Carmichael spoke in the debate on Sunday about how a chap in Shetland had explained to him that if he took a job, he'd only have £19 per week to feed, heat and clothe himself. If he stayed on benefits, he'd have £45. What a disgrace that that situation has existed under Labour and the Tories. Imagine what a difference our positive policy of raising the tax threshold to £10,000 would make to him!
Anyway, can I make a suggestion? If you hear the other parties talking about us negatively, come back to our manifesto and our website and read it for yourself. Ask your local Lib Dem PPC. That way you will be able to get the truth of the matter.
Dog Whistle Dave has failed to scare the country into backing him by casting spectres of economic apocalypse in the event of a hung parliament. He's going to revert and scaremonger on immmigration, Europe and "benefit scroungers" (copyright Daily Mail, not me). Don't let him steal this election with lies. The truth is that it's now a choice between David Cameron and Nick Clegg as PM - Labour seem destined to crash and burn now - do you want a Government based on the Daily Mail worldview, or one based on fairness and cleaning up politics up. Like the man on Big Brother says, you decide........