Saturday, December 22, 2012

Letter from the Leader: Lib Dems protected young people and larger families from Tories' welfare cuts

Nick Clegg's Letter from the Leader sensibly flags up the speech he made this week to mark his five years as leader, giving people the chance to watch it on video.

He emphasises the role the Liberal Democrats played in moderating the Conservatives' planned cuts to welfare. Some of us may well not be happy with the reality of a sub-inflation rise in benefits, but there is some credit due for holding back a much worse onslaught.

Anyway, here it is in full. The last sentence is interesting - basically he says have a good Christmas and don't talk too much about politics. I suspect that's because he knows, as I wrote on Liberal Democrat Voice the other day, that Paddy is going to have our noses to the grindstone after the holidays.

Dear Caron,

This week it is five years since I was elected leader of our party. It feels at once like it was yesterday and a lifetime ago!

The announcement of the result and my acceptance speech all passed in something of a blur. The memory that really sticks in my mind is of the next day, when I visited a school in Simon Hughes' constituency.

I remember one of the students asked me what I'd do if I became Prime Minister - "theoretically of course" he added, hurriedly. And he was right: I've only got as far as Deputy. But we have as a party absolutely defied the expectations that were set for us five years ago.

They said we would be wiped out at the election. They said we couldn't be trusted with the economy. They said we were a fringe party only interested in fringe issues.

We've proven none of that is true. We've proven we can govern, and govern well, even at a time of upheaval and crisis for Britain. We've proven we're committed to delivering a stronger economy and a fairer society enabling everyone to get on in life.

But most of all we've proven that Liberal Democrats can anchor a government in the centre ground, moderating the forces of tribalism that you would expect to dominate politics at a time like this.

I believe Britain needs that moderating force more than ever. That's the argument I made in a speech this week to mark my anniversary and set our course for the rest of this Parliament.

I won't try and repeat the whole speech in this letter. You can read it here or watch the video.

But there's one example I used that I want to repeat - because I think it shows exactly what I mean by "anchoring" the Government in the centre ground. It's an example of how the very fact of coalition means positive compromise - it means reasonable ideas go ahead and extreme ones fall by the wayside.

This autumn the coalition decided to go further to reform benefits to help support people back into work and reduce the costs of the welfare state. That's the right thing to do.

The Conservatives suggested we cut an extra £10bn from welfare, take away child benefit from families with more than two children and take away housing benefit from everyone under the age of 25.

But when our two parties sat down to agree a plan, instead the coalition stuck to the centre ground. We agreed to increase benefits by 1% a year, in line with public sector pay rises - not freeze them - delivering savings of just about a third of the proposed £10bn. And we rejected completely the more extreme reforms that had been put on the table, protecting young people and larger families from cuts.

So if you're asked what Liberal Democrats are doing in Government - tell this story. Welfare reform is important to reduce the deficit and help get people into work. But if you want reasonable welfare reform, not indiscriminate welfare cuts, we're the party you want on your side.

But that's enough from me. Enjoy Christmas and don't spend too much time talking about politics!

Best Wishes,


Nick Clegg 

1 comment: said...

Hi Caron

Good to see someone is fighting for families!

I am now a single mother who needs to earn from home to be with my child who I homeschool because of bullying. It makes me so upset that there are no real support groups for mothers to earn from home using the Internet. The government have ignored my letters with problems I had with my online business and seem to refuse to help women who want to work around their children. Why should our children suffer? I have great ideas that would help mothers earn from home and give children hope. All I need is someone willing to listen. My little girl wants Mummy at home. So why should she be shipped off to some stranger whilst Mum works for peanuts, when the Government have the power to support us! Especially when there are so many women being bullied by men! It is outrageous!


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