Mr. Clegg, your speech was abysmal

Nick Clegg's speech to the Liberal Democrat conference was completely in-keeping with the tone of the week: FLAT

Nick Clegg, the beleaguered Lib Dem leader
On 26 September 2012 14:14

Starting off by shouting at his party membership, “Ok, let me start!” Clegg began with an upbeat message about the Olympics and about the regeneration of parts of London after last summer’s riots.

But Clegg, with not much great to say about his party or his government’s position, soon descended into waffle about the British work ethic and Britain’s place in the world – particularly hard lectures to take from a professional politician such as him.

But it appears that Clegg completely forgot about 2012. His speech would have been as applicable last year as it is this year. And this is a reflection on how far forward the Liberal Democrats and the British government have moved the country over the past twelve months: not much.

Though it’s an argument for another time, this mindset is the very problem. Government of course needs to move out of the way to allow the economy to flourish, not try and create growth through stimulus or quantitative easing.

And Nick Clegg, while trying to placate the ‘orange bookers’ in his party with empty words, continued to make the case for government interventions, public spending and extraordinary tax rates.

“There can be no question of reducing it [the top rate of income tax] further in this Parliament”, said Clegg, further digging in his heels to stave off threats to his leadership by the likes of Vince Cable.

Clegg’s speech was a stagnant stream of shibboleths and shameless grandstanding. Having nothing to say and half an hour in which to say it will do this to anyone, but especially to beleaguered politicians.

In his attempts to get the waning party membership excited about a more left-wing Liberal Democrat party, Clegg hit out at the Tories for their promises on the environment, making possibly the worst joke of the year, “Everyone knows that to make blue go green, you need to add yellow!”

Clegg’s attacks on libertarianism were also awkward and odd. Potentially as a rebuff to the increasingly libertarian UKIP, he called the philosophy, “tinny” which will do nothing to reassure libertarians in the Liberal Democrat party (yes, they exist) that they shouldn’t hang up their memberships and find an alternative.

Finally, Clegg told the party about its place as ‘one of the three parties of government’ while insisting that politicians should ‘take their orders from voters’. This is an incongruous statement given how the coalition government was formed, and indeed therefore, what made the Liberal Democrats a ‘party of government’.

A hard year for the Liberal Democrats, and specifically for Nick Clegg, put him in a position to give a terrible speech at a terrible conference. And unlike what the public is used to with Nick Clegg – he delivered.

He delivered a terrible speech that will do nothing for Liberal Democrat party morale, nothing for the Liberal Democrat finances, and will likely be remembered as the point where the party leader should have been ousted and replaced with someone fresher faced.

Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor of The Commentator

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