Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm feeling uninspired by Nick Clegg's speech today

I've just read Nick Clegg's speech on the first anniversary of the formation of the Coalition Government. It's available in full on the Liberal Democrat website here.

It's not that it says anything bad. It's what's missing that's upset me quite a lot.

Firstly, there's no specific mention of Scotland.
We lost almost 750 council seats. And of course the AV referendum delivered a clear ‘no’ vote
It doesn't help that this was being delivered at the same time as I was watching Roderick Campbell be sworn in as SNP MSP for our long time stronghold of North East Fife, thinking of my friend Iain who has represented the seat so well for the past 12 years.

Why could he not have said "and Parliamentarians in Scotland. We've lost some good people and I want to thank them for their excellent public service." You would think somebody would have pointed out to them that  they should have mentioned Scotland, wouldn't you? It's not as if Nick doesn't care - I know he personally rang all the defeated MSPs on Friday.

By suggesting that the Liberal Democrats be more assertive about their differences he makes it sound like we need to argue our case more in the Government. It's more that we have to do it in public. I know that our ministers have robustly fought and won arguments within the Government. Remember that mad idea of Osborne's of cutting Housing Benefit for people out of work for a year? That's gone. And who got rid of it? I'll give you a clue. It wasn't any Tory. It was our ministers calmly and feistily acting on behalf of the poorest and most vulnerable.

More happens behind closed doors than we'll ever get to hear about, but in my experience and that of many others over the past few weeks, people know about the tax threshold and ending child detention. They know that we had no choice about going into the Coalition. What they can't forgive is tuition fees. Even up here, where it's devolved to the Scottish Parliament and we Liberal Democrats have an unblemished track record on the issue.

By breaking our pledge, which was by no means the only pledge ever broken by a party standing or election, we broke our trust. Or at least a few people at Westminster have broken trust which is impacting on innocent councillors and MSPs.

I am coming to the conclusion that we need to properly acknowledge that we understand what we've done to that relationship, that however least worst of the options it was, it was still wrong. We need to say sorry.

Jennie has made the case really well and the lovely elephant has the perfect form of words.
we promised we would oppose tuition fees and then voted for a rise and that was wrong". We did it for the best of reasons, because the deal for students that we could get by doing that was better than any other offer on the table, but we know that we broke our promise there and it's not good enough and we are sorry.
And, Nick, we might be a party of fairness and enterprise - but you missed the other f word - freedom.

That's enough for now - I am off to partake of some gin with some lovely Lib Dems. See you later.


Richard Morris said...

Yes. The electorate have no interest in listening to us have they? David Steel made the same point on Newsnight yesterday. And until we can get them to listen, we're a bit stuffed.

I'be blogged on this before. I expect I will again. Several times...

Richard Morris said...

Just seen this rather brilliant post. Probably says it best of all

Anonymous said...

Believe me, the Scottish Party isn't forgotten by most people in England and Wales. The one really shocking bit of the results for me was how badly we did in Scotland - the rest I was expecting.

GHmltn said...

I agree and I feel this is very important.

Our dire election result has a lot to do with our broken pledge and blotting our left of centre copybook at Westminster.

Our future performance at Westminster and not appearing too English are key ingredients in our recovery.

As will be visibility of our Scottish MPs in Scotland.

I have blogged about this today -



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