Conference: Lib Dems

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Nick Clegg

Disappointed is the word that most would use about Clegg and his party; he seemed to betray the belief and principles he had to get into power with the Tories. I personally made the decision to vote Lib Dem last time because out of the three parties his offered something closest to my own beliefs and standpoint. I’d always voted Labour up to the last election but I saw that Clegg and Cable offered something the others didn’t – a bit of vision and honesty. Am I disappointed in what has happened in the last few years? Yes, but not as disappointed as others say they are.

It’s easy to look at the negatives (they come later) but in fact because the Lib Dems were in the navigator’s seat of this government there are areas where their input and promises have been kept – albeit with an element of compromise that you’d expect from a party that was the smaller partner in a coalition government. They pledged to get the Personal tax allowance threshold raised to £10,000 which will be in place by the next election. Today they say that that will raise even further if they have any power after the next national vote to £11,400 to exclude everyone on the minimum wage from income. While it’s been an incremental move to the figure they proposed actually they’ve helped everyone with that promise – most of all taking a couple of million people, mostly pensioners and part-time workers, out of income tax altogether. For me this is their biggest achievement and shows that their vision of social and economic justice stands up to scrutiny.

Another area we can say they’ve succeeded is in the way they have forced the break up of the banks – very much in the face of Tory opposition. Not only have they helped safeguard savers money to a higher threshold, they have been at the forefront of separating the Business banking from the high street banking that we are starting to see. Vince Cable is one of the few politicians I believe when he speaks. While he is not always 100% correct with his analysis he has been right the majority of the time. And we have him to thank for pushing for this bank restructuring.

But, and there’s always a but they failed to stop the “bedroom Tax”, higher tuition fees went against a core promise and reform of the House of Lords was successfully side-lined time and again by their Tory counterparts. Those of us who voted for them wanted them to be in power, but the coalition option was the next best thing. Their job was to be the voice or reason in the room when decisions were being made and despite Tory put downs I think they underplayed their position. They had the opportunity to leave the Conservatives hanging on certain issues where there was a free vote – they should have pushed to show the difference between the two partners and they rarely did.

The biggest concern now is that today Clegg made the claim that he was open to forming a coalition with either of the other two main parties – this is a mistake. Last time the campaign was “Vote Clegg, Get Clegg” telling us that it wasn’t a wasted vote, but if their ambition is just to be the silent or lesser partner propping up another party it is no wonder that they are at such a low poll rating at the moment. Have some ambition for goodness sake – how do you expect people to vote for you when you don’t even consider yourself good enough to run the country as a party? At this point in time I see no real reason to vote for you again even though I still largely agree with your policy platform your attitude and actions leave much to be ashamed of.

JD

 

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