Home > Uncategorized > Nick Clegg’s speeches to #sldconf and #ldconf

Nick Clegg’s speeches to #sldconf and #ldconf

I took so long to write-up Nick’s speech to Scottish LibDem Conference that now I have two speeches by Nick to write about. I’ll start off with the speech to Scottish LibDem Conference and then go on to his speech to LibDem conference.

Nick to Scottish LibDem Conference in Inverness started off with the fact that we have two Highland MPs at the heart of government and moved on to how well Willie Rennie and co. in Holyrood are holding the SNP to account and showing Labour and the Tories about how to be an effective opposition.

He moved on to the sterling work, our councillors are doing. Sadly in politics, local government and the sterling work that our councillors and councils do so often goes unreported and unrecognised.

Nick Clegg steered his speech on to the Union. He emphasised the debate should be on what unites us instead of what divides us.

But when it comes to how many questions are on the ballot paper, I disagree with Nick. Yes, we need to have the independence question and it needs to be decisive but we also have to make sure the debate continues.

Its great the Tories and Labour are saying the right thing but they have to mean it. When it comes to Cameron, I simply don’t believe him. Once Scotland rejects independence, there is no reason for Cameron to do anything. He will stall and stall and stall. What Labour will do, I have no idea.

The best way to do that is through the ballot box. A second question on the status quo, Cameron is such a PR man and the state of his party this side of the border is in such a bad state that he has to follow the wishes of the Scottish people when in a referendum we vote decisively that the status quo is simply not acceptable.

Ed Miliband, well he hops on every bandwagon going, doesn’t matter which direction it’s going in.

We need a ballot box guarantee, in order to make sure the debate continues. Also we need to give people their democratic right to be able to reject the status quo and independence.

From the Union, Nick started talking about green issues. I met a couple on the train up to Inverness, who told me that the only reason why England wants to be in the UK is for our potential in renewable energy. Perhaps not the right timing, Nick.

Nick’s speech to LibDem conference was flat. Advice to anyone, never watch a Nick Clegg speech after watching the West Wing especially the speech where Jed says: “The streets of heaven are far too crowded with angels”.

Nick’s speech was average at best. Nick emphasised that in difficult times we should pull together rather than let our prejudices divide us. At the beginning, I thought this was going to be another Union speech but he only mentioned Scotland in two paragraphs. The theme of the speech seemed to be we are one nation, the speech might make people think that Clegg is a One Nation Tory or is trying to steal the One Nation Tories from the Conservative party.

Word of warning to Clegg’s strategy team, by emphasising our One Nationism, whilst the Tories hold the One Nation branch, we Liberal Democrats look like a Tory-lite party. Why vote for us, when the Tories have been the One Nation party for longer. This speech might just have made the Tories look more attractive to potential One Nation Conservatives rather than stealing them.

Clegg’s speech highlighted in my opinion that liberalism tries to strike the perfect balance between individualism and collectivism but there were a few places where this faltered.

And let me also say a word or two about Scotland. I want the Scottish people to have much more power for over Scottish affairs. The Liberal Democrats are, after all, the party of home rule. But I also know that, as nations in a United Kingdom, we are better together than we would be apart: richer, safer and stronger.

Alex Salmond wants to break up the nations of the United Kingdom. I want to keep them together. He says this is a time for division – I say it is a time for unity. He wants to split us apart – I want us to pull together.

You want Scotland to have more power over its own affairs, great. You believe in home rule, not so great. Why? Home Rule is the individualism, the independent side of liberalism without the collective side. I want Scotland not to be dependent on England, but at the same time, I do not want to undermine the collectivism of the United Kingdom & that means coming together with the other “nations” of the UK and making sure that we all have the freedom to be independent of the centre, having the power to control our destinies rather than it coming from up above. Nick says he wants us to pull together as a UK, great. Let’s pull together to decide how best to govern the UK.

Earlier in the speech, Nick talked about striking deals with “our” biggest cities to give them new powers and new opportunities. The cities he list are”

Sheffield and Manchester
Liverpool and Leeds
Bristol and Birmingham
Nottingham and Newcastle

Notice anything strange about that list?

They are all English cities.

What about Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Aberdeen, Cardiff, Swansea and Belfast?

I know its not simple oversight. I know its because the constitution and the devolution settlements don’t give the government of the United Kingdom and the PM and DPM of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ni the power to give new powers and new opportunities to any city outside of England.

To me, that undermines the collectivism of the UK and goes against the theme that we are the only true One Nation party. Why should the cities of the devolved nations, not be included when the centre wants to give local people more power? I don’t know about other people but to me that seems to undermine the collectivism of the UK.

The speeches Nick gave to both Scottish and Federal Conferences were ok, not great. His speech to Federal Conference had moments when the DPM was constrained by the constitution and whilst that is occasionally right, not when it comes to helping and giving more power to local communities. I’ll be interested in seeing where Nick goes from here.

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