Christmas messages from Nick Clegg and Willie Rennie @nick_clegg @willie_rennie

WILLIE RENNIE’S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE
 
As we mark the loss of close friends and distant heroes it’s important to take a moment to think and reflect on the year.
 
Christmas is also a time to make a special effort to reach out to others.  Whether it be the distant friend, the estranged family member or the quiet neighbour, Christmas is a good excuse to make new.

 

It’s also a time to reflect on the year past with its successes and its challenges. It’s no different for me.  


The progress with the Liberal Democrats in the last year has been significant.


We’re delivering our £700 tax cut for those on low and middle incomes.


Pensions are rising thanks to the Liberal Democrat triple lock that guarantees decent increases every year.


There’s higher employment with over 1 million new jobs in the private sector.


And the economy is growing with improving prospects for years to come.


We’re building a stronger economy and a fairer society so that everyone can get a chance to get on. Without the Liberal Democrats this would not be happening.  


Scotland is heading in the right direction thanks to the action taken by Liberal Democrats in Government. We are anchoring politics in the centre ground.


But we don’t like to stand still as there is so much more to do.


That’s why we are pressing the Scottish Government to improve early education, particularly for two year olds, to match what is being delivered in England by the Liberal Democrats in Government. We know it can change lives for the better.


Despite the Scottish Government’s White Paper we still don’t know what the nationalists’ independence plans will mean.  It is no less risky because of the White Paper.  And why would we undermine the progress we are making with the UK economy, cutting taxes, increasing pensions and more jobs by breaking up the country. We should share that progress together. 


It’s why we’re also making the case for more powers for the Scottish Parliament with the Liberal Democrat Home Rule plans.  With more tax and constitutional power we can determine our own destiny on the domestic agenda whilst sharing risk and reward with the family of nations that is the UK.  It’s the best of both worlds.


My compliments of the season to all.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in Dundee – a day in pictures #sldconf

This morning, I had the great pleasure in making a welcome address to hundreds of Scottish Liberal Democrats attending our Spring Conference, taking place in Dundee’s West End, at the West Park Centre.
 
Here’s some photographs from a very productive and enjoyable day:
Welcome to Dundee!


Making the opening address to delegates this morning.
Conference Hall.
Nick Clegg MP, Liam McArthur MSP and I had a very informative visit to Dundee College.   Here’s Nick speaking with HNC students.
I had the pleasure of taking part in a Q&A session with 55 modern studies pupils from Dundee schools (and Madras College at St Andrews) along with Jim Hume MSP and Mike Crockart MP.    Here’s Jim, along with Perth & Kinross Councillor Willie Wilson and myself, with St Paul’s Academy pupils on the conference podium.
Vince Cable MP addresses conference.
Nick Clegg addresses conference.

Governing Britain from the centre ground

This week marks five years since Nick Clegg became leader of the Liberal Democrats.    
 
To mark this occasion Nick gave a keynote speech at Centre Forum earlier this week.   The speech highlighted the journey the Party has been on under his leadership.  It set out the Liberal Democrats’ position at the centre ground of British politics and explained how we are building a stronger economy in a fairer society.
 
Click ‘play’ below to hear Nick’s speech:

Eid message from Deputy Prime Minister Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP

I would like to wish Muslims across the country, and indeed across the world, Eid Mubarak on the occasion of Eid ul-Fitr.

Muslims make a huge contribution to British society – in business, in public service, and in enriching our culture too.

The spirit of Ramadan and Eid hold messages about family and charity from which all of us should learn.

The dignity and calm shown by the Muslim community in Birmingham following the tragic deaths of three men during the riots moved the whole country.

I wish you the best for the prayers and celebrations of the coming days. Once again, Eid Mubarak.

Kind regards


Nick Clegg
Deputy Prime Minister & Leader of the Liberal Democrats

On your side

Dear Fraser,

These are difficult times for people across Britain, but this week has shown that this can also be an opportunity to reshape Britain into a fairer, more equal and greener country.

Labour’s financial legacy has left our country needing to borrow an extra £400million, every single day, just to get by. Labour also left us paying £120million in interest on our debt each and every day – for that we could build a new primary school every hour.

Dundee City’s share of the country’s debt now stands at a dangerous £4.99billion and something needs to be done.

But despite all this, Liberal Democrat policies coming into action this week are making a positive difference to people’s lives.

Over the last seven days in Dundee City, thanks to Liberal Democrats:

  • 49000 people are getting a £200 income tax cut – benefiting 23 million people across the country
  • 1900 people have been lifted out of paying income tax altogether, with more to come
  • pensioners have been given an extra £4.50 a week – and those retiring from today will be on average £15,000 better off over their retirement.

Liberal Democrats in government will not stop there.

This week also saw Pensions Minister Steve Webb announcing that the Government will be introducing a simple, flat-rate state pension of £140 to replace the current complicated, unfair and means-tested system.

Business Secretary Vince Cable is cutting regulation to promote small business and create jobs.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne revealed that Britain will be hosting the 2012 Clean Energy Summit – putting Britain at the heart of the Green Energy Revolution.

The Liberal Democrats have entered government at one of the most challenging times for the country. We did not choose the moment but we have not shrunk from our responsibility to act in the national interest. We will not miss the opportunity we have to build a greener, fairer and more liberal Britain.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister & Leader of the Liberal Democrats

A New Year message from Nick Clegg

Dear Fraser

Well what a year! A white-knuckle election; a new coalition government; Liberals in power for the first time in 70 years.
 
I’ve recorded a short message reflecting on the events of 2010 and looking forward to what Liberal Democrats will deliver in Government in 2011.
 
Some people will continue to predict the worst for our Party – the same people who have been underestimating the Liberal Democrats for as long as we have existed.

But we prove them wrong at every single turn. The next twelve months will be no different, because we will continue to build the liberal, fairer, greener Britain that we all believe in.
 
Happy New Year!

Nick Clegg

Liberal Democrat Leader

Nick Clegg on the Spending Review

Dear Fraser,

The spending review has inevitably been a tough process. We have made the decision to take the hard road – but it is the right road to a more prosperous, fairer Britain. The unavoidable moment of truth came just as we entered government: Labour’s deficit had to be tackled. I did not go into government to make cuts. But nor can I be in government and allow us to keep spending more than £100 million a day on servicing our debt – enough to build a primary school every single hour, or triple the number of doctors working in our hospitals.

The spending review is a thoroughly Coalition product. Liberal Democrat ministers have been involved every step of the way. Our values and priorities are written through the review, like the message in a stick of rock. We have had to make some very difficult choices. But the review is one that promotes fairness, underpins growth, reduces carbon emissions and localises power.

The Coalition Government is investing £7 bn in a ‘fairness premium’ to help disadvantaged children; putting more than £1 billion into a regional growth fund; launching a Green Investment Bank with at least £2 billion for low-carbon technology and new jobs; and giving local government real financial freedoms. This Government will be spending more than £700bn on public services – the same as in 2006. For too long Labour enjoyed the years of plenty and whether they are part of the new generation or old, they put their head in the sand when it came to acknowledging the deficit. They spent beyond our country’s means and squandered the public purse. They quite simply endangered the prosperity of our country and it is now taking two political parties to put Britain on the road to recovery.

Along with Danny Alexander, Vince Cable and the rest of the Liberal Democrat ministerial team I have been working day in day out over recent months to ensure that the Comprehensive Spending Review meets key Liberal Democrat tests.

Liberal Democrat ministers have fought to ensure that the burden of the challenge ahead is shared fairly. On child benefit, capital gains and tax evasion and avoidance – this government is making the well off pay their share. And for those services that matter most to the vulnerable in our society, such as health and social care and early years education, spending is being protected. We are not taking the decisions today because they are easy or because we want to see a smaller state, we are taking them because they are right. We have a hard road to recovery ahead, but we are determined to ensure it is a road that leads to fairness too.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg MP

Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister

Britain in 2015 – Nick Clegg’s speech to Autumn Conference

Dear Fraser,

Imagine you’re asking a friend or neighbour to vote Liberal Democrat in the 2015 General Election.

Imagine how it will feel to say that in Government, the Liberal Democrats scrapped ID cards. To say we cut crime while stopping Labour’s mass incarceration of children. That finally we have a fair tax system where the rich pay their share – and the lowest earners pay no income tax at all. You’ll say we brought troops home from Afghanistan after they’d finished the difficult job we sent them to do.

You’ll be able to tell people they have a new right to sack MPs who do wrong, and that the party funding scandals of the past are history. And if we campaign hard enough in the referendum on Fairer Votes you’ll be able to say the clapped out First Past the Post system is gone for good.

That is the goal, the prize, that I have set out in my speech to our Party Conference today.
In 2015 Britain will be a different country. For five years you and I will give it a different kind of government and a new politics. Five years of transforming the state and reversing generations of centralisation.

Five years of delivering fairer taxes, a fair start for every child, a rebalanced green economy, a cleaner politics – as we promised to do in our Liberal Democrat election manifesto.

The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are and always will be separate parties, with distinct histories and different futures. But for this Parliament we work together to fix the problems we face and put the country on a better path.

This is the right Government for right now. Our first job is a difficult one – balancing the budget.

Let me be clear with you about this – we are not dismantling the state. Even when all the cuts have happened, the Government will still be spending the same proportion of national income as it did in 2006. We will not repeat the mistakes of previous recessions.

But to delay solving the deficit would mean the Government would soon be paying £70 billion a year on interest payments alone. We cannot ask our children to pay our credit card bills.

We have to do it so that Britain in 2015 can be a different country.

Strong, fair, free. A country we can be proud to hand on to our children.

Thank you for all your support and all your hard work. Together we will change Britain for good.

All best wishes,

Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats & Deputy Prime Minister


PS. You can read my full speech here:
http://www.libdems.org.uk/.

Nick’s visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan

Dear Fraser,

Earlier this week this week I went to Afghanistan and Pakistan to see for myself the problems and challenges that those countries face. The coalition government is committed to playing our part to helping ensure that the region has a peaceful and prosperous future.

It was my second visit to our armed forces in Afghanistan, where I saw again the bravery and professionalism of our troops. Whilst the situation in the country is still difficult, I believe that we are beginning to turn the corner. As the Prime Minister has made clear, British combat troops will leave Afghanistan by 2015 and it is important that by then we have a full political settlement to take the country forward.

Yesterday I was in Pakistan where I saw the almost unimaginable impact of the terrible floods. It is almost impossible to appreciate their scale — the affected area is approximately the same size as the UK.

I was deeply moved as I witnessed the flooding from the air. It is sadly clear that it will take years for life in Pakistan to come back to normal. I met with President Zardari and aid agency workers to discuss aid being delivered to Pakistan and what role Britain and the international community can play.

I’m proud that the British people and government have together contributed over £100m to assist the aid efforts. If you would like to donate to the DEC appeal for Pakistan, as I know many people will have done already, you can do so here: www.dec.org.uk.  

Best Wishes,

Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats & Deputy Prime Minister

Nick’s speech on a fairer Britain

Dear Fraser,

Today, the coalition Government is 100 days old.

I want to take this moment to say thank you once again for all your support, all your hard work, all your generosity. Thank you for everything you did to help us win over a million more votes for the Liberal Democrats in the General Election. Thank you for getting Liberal Democrat ministers into government for the first time in generations.

Today I made a speech about how the Coalition government is building a fairer society in Britain.    Both David Cameron and I have always made it clear that we are governing Britain for the long term, not for tomorrow’s headlines.

One of our main long-term goals is to increase social mobility. A fair society is one where everyone has the chance to do well, regardless of their beginnings. A society where no-one is held back by the circumstances of their birth. Where what counts isn’t what school you went to, the job your parents did or the colour of your skin, but your ability and ambition.

When the history books are written, I want them to say that this government paid down the budget deficit and laid down the foundations of economic prosperity for years to come. I also want them to say that children born in 2015 are less constrained by the circumstances of their birth than any previous generation.

There is a huge amount of work to be done. Labour spent huge amounts of money pushing low-income households just above the poverty line – but with no impact on the chances of the next generation.

The two most important areas which I outlined in my speech today and will guide the Government’s social mobility strategy are:

Tax reform. We will reform the tax system so it encourages social mobility, rather than social segregation. We took a first step towards that at the Budget by raising the income tax threshold, taking 880,000 people out of tax altogether. Reforming income tax is explicitly aimed at those who are in paid work – the surest route out of poverty. Making income tax fairer will not only be a measure to boost fairness today, but is also an investment in fairness tomorrow.

I will also be chairing a new ministerial group on Social Mobility, including Conservatives like Iain Duncan Smith and David Willetts as well as Liberal Democrats like Sarah Teather and Lynne Featherstone. Alan Milburn, who is widely respected across the political spectrum for his tireless work on social mobility, will act as an independent reviewer of the Government’s success in delivering social mobility.

Thank you once again for all of your support.

All best wishes,

Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats & Deputy Prime Minister

Fairer Votes – the campaign starts now

Dear Fraser

This week, I announced that, for the first time, the British people will have choice about the system they use to elect their MPs.

On May 5th 2011, there will be a referendum on whether to adopt the Alternative Vote.

The First Past The Post system hands power to the lucky few who live in marginal constituencies and sucks it away from the vast majority of us who do not. So over the next ten months the Liberal Democrats will be fighting hard, with others, for a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum. I want to sweep away the current system and replace it with the Alternative Vote.

We need you to be part of this campaign. It will not be easy. There will be many MPs who want to keep the status quo because it protects them from the need to win majority support.

But with your help we can do it. We need you to inspire, enthuse and persuade your friends, family and neighbours to come out on May 5 and cast their ballot for fairer votes.

You can get the referendum campaign off to a flying start – please sign up to our Fairer votes campaign newsletter here: www.fairervotes.org.uk.

Together, we can win this referendum.

All best wishes,

Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats & Deputy Prime Minister

Which laws do you want to scrap?

Dear Fraser
We’ve already scrapped ID cards. Now I’d like to ask you – which other laws do you want to scrap?
 
 
 

 
The Liberal Democrats have always stood up for civil liberties, scrapping unnecessary laws and reducing the burden of regulation on businesses and charities.
In our manifesto, we proposed a Freedom Bill to roll back Labour’s attacks on British civil liberties. In government, we are doing just that.
Yesterday I launched Your Freedom
 
 

, a national dialogue on how to create a more open, inclusive society. Anyone can make suggestions about which laws we need to scrap and where we can cut red tape. You can also rate and comment on other people’s suggestions. The best ideas will be put into practice – because this is a listening government.
This is the open government we have long campaigned for. So tell us about every time you’ve felt snooped on by the state, or had to fill in the same form three times. Help us put Liberal Democrat values into practice in Government.
I know people are talking about this up and down the country – so please do have your say and pass this message on to anyone who has ideas for Your Freedom.
All best wishes,
Nick Clegg MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats & Deputy Prime Minister
 

See :  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeaIB2YvKhw

The Queen’s Speech

Dear Fraser,

Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech was unlike any we have seen for years. It was not simply another list of bills from a government determined to rule from the centre. It was not simply a speech from another one-party Government able to push through measures without the support of a majority of the country.

Instead, the speech marked the beginning of a radical move to rebalance the relationship between people and their government, making life better for everyone.

It was the first time the Queen has ever delivered a speech listing the Bills to be introduced by a coalition government.

It is a testament to the hard work of Liberal Democrat campaigners and supporters across the country that crucial policies we fought the election on will now be enacted in Government. It is these policies that, although times are tough and savings will have to be made, will ensure that our country is made a fairer place.

I am looking forward to overseeing a radical programme of political reform that will result in an House of Lords elected on a proportional basis, the right to sack corrupt MPs and a referendum to finally change our outdated voting system.

A Great Repeal Bill will roll back Labour’s surveillance state, scrapping ID cards, the children’s database and restoring civil liberties.

In areas like education, health and policing people are going to get much greater powers over the services in their area. And we are going to hand more powers to communities and councils.

This will have a real impact for people, not just giving them control, but also making Britain a better place to live with good schools, a stronger economy, support for businesses and real action on the environment.

For too long the Queen’s Speech has been used by the government to explain how it is going to hoard more power in Whitehall. We have now explained how we will start giving that power back.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Statement from Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg made this statement earlier tonight:

“Tonight the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party and the Federal Executive of the Liberal Democrat party have overwhelmingly accepted my recommendation that we should now enter into a coalition government with the Conservative Party.

“Before I say anything more about that coalition government I would like to express my thanks and admiration for Gordon Brown. He has been a towering figure in British politics for well over a decade. And the manner in which he has acted over the last few days has demonstrated immense dignity, grace and a profound sense of his public duty.

“We are now going to form a new government More importantly than anything else, we are going to form a new kind of government; I hope this is the start of a new kind of politics I have always believed in. Diverse, plural, where politicians with different points of view find a way to work together to provide the good government for the sake of the whole country deserves.

“That was what we were asked to do by the people of Britain in the General Election last Thursday and that is what we will deliver.

“I want to thank David Cameron for the very open, constructive and workmanlike way in which we have come together to make this agreement on how we can come together in this coalition government. We are obviously politicians from different parties. I believe we are now united in seeking to meet the immense challenges that now face the country and to deliver a fairer, better Britain.

“Of course there will be problems along the way; of course there will be glitches. But I will always do my best to prove that new politics isn’t just possible – it is also better.

“I’d like to say something directly to the nearly seven million people who supported the Liberal Democrats in the General Election last week. I am now acutely aware that I carry your hopes and aspirations into this coalition agreement.

“I am sure you have many questions, maybe many doubts. But I can assure you I would not have entered into this agreement unless I was genuinely convinced it was a unique opportunity to deliver the changes you and I believe in.

· Fair taxes.

· A fair start in life for every child.

· A new approach to our discredited banking system and the prospect of green and sustainable economic growth.

· And new, open politics which you can trust once again.

“So I hope you will now keep faith with us let us prove to you that we can serve this country with humility, with fairness at the heart of everything we do. And with total dedication to the interests and livelihoods of everyone in this country.”

From Nick Clegg

Dear Fraser

This is my personal guarantee that I will use all the support you give me on Thursday to deliver fairness in Britain.

We need a fairer tax system. I will use your votes to cut taxes for those at the bottom and in the middle and close the loopholes for those at the top.

We need to support our children. I will use your votes to ensure extra funding for schools, to cut class sizes and give all children a fair chance.

We need to clean up politics. I will use your votes to reform Parliament, to deliver a fairer voting system, protect your freedoms and give you the right to sack corrupt MPs.

We need a new economy. I will use your vote to split up the banks, get them lending again, invest in green infrastructure and so create jobs.

This election campaign has shown us that millions of people want us to do something different this time.

Politicians should work together to solve the nation’s biggest problems. That is why, whatever the outcome on Thursday, I believe we should be prepared to work together to fix the terrible state of our public finances and ensure economic stability.

These are the key steps to a new, fairer Britain. Give me the power of your vote and we can make it happen.

Together, we can make the difference.

Best wishes,

Nick Clegg

Leader of the Liberal Democrats

John Barnett’s campaign galloping across Dundee West …

The Liberal Democrat campaign in Dundee West is galloping ahead, following another excellent performance by Nick Clegg at the second Prime Ministerial Debate last night.    John is pictured above with me and some other members of the team at the Kingsway West retail park today.
John said, “Nick Clegg gave another excellent performance again last night and the Liberal Democrats are continuing to soar in the polls. The response on the doorsteps across Dundee West has been superb.”

Disgraceful Tory Smears

Another day, another Nick Clegg triumph – and the LibDem surge in the polls is maintained, despite desperate Tory smears.

I heard Malcolm Rifkind from the Conservatives on Radio 4 yesterday maintain that the Conservative Party would not have influenced the Tory-supporting newspapers to run Nick Clegg & LibDem smear stories.

The truth is now out with the following information last night on the blog of Nick Robinson, the respected BBC journalist. It also shows up the smear story in the Daily Telegraph about Nick Clegg’s bank account for the total rubbish it is :

I now learn that political reporters from the Tory-backing papers were called in one by one to discuss how Team Cameron would deal with “Cleggmania” and to be
offered Tory HQ’s favourite titbits about the Lib Dems – much of which appears in today’s papers.

The key personal allegation about payments from donors into Nick Clegg’s personal
bank account came, however, from the Telegraph’s expenses files. Incidentally, the party has now published details of Nick Clegg’s bank statements and party accounts showing that Mr Clegg received payments totalling £19,690 from three businessmen (Neil Sherlock, Michael Young, Ian Wright) and then paid staff costs of £20,437.30 out of the same account. According to these figures, Mr Clegg actually paid £747.30 out of his own money towards staff costs.

The Tories should be ashamed of themselves and it is clear they are not fit to run the country.

Liberal Democrats riding high …

The latest polling looks increasingly good for the Liberal Democrats, with the party now leading in two of the major polls :

– Angus Reid for PoliticalBetting: LIBDEM 33%, CON 32%, LAB 23%

– YouGov in The Sun: LIBDEM 34%, CON 31%, LAB 26%

And don’t forget … the second Party Leaders’ Debate is taking place tomorrow starting at 8pm on Sky News. Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown and David Cameron will again be going head to head in a TV debate in the run up to the General Election on May 6th, this time leading on Foreign Affairs.

The first half of the 90 minute Election Debate on Sky News will be devoted to Foreign Affairs, with the rest on any topic. The debate comes from Bristol, and will be chaired by Adam Boulton. Sky are inviting questions before the debate, with more information at http://news.sky.com/skynews/Election/debatequestion.

You can see the debate live anywhere that you usually watch Sky News: Sky Digital Channel 501, Virgin Media Channel 602 and Freeview Channel 82 and online at skynews.com Live Video Streaming. BBC 2 will also be showing the debate in full at 11.30pm after Newsnight.

The third debate will take place on the BBC on 29th April at 8.30pm, focusing on the Economy.

Nick Clegg is widely judged to have won the first Party Leaders debate, watched by 9.9 million people, with the ITV/ComRes poll after the debate giving Nick Clegg 43% of the vote. Over the last week, the Liberal Democrats have seen a massive surge in the opinion polls.

There are a number of ways you can show your support for the Liberal Democrats General Election campaign:

– You can download free posters to print and put in your window to support the Lib Dems at http://www.libdems.org.uk/posters.aspx.

– You can buy an “I agree with Nick” window poster and badge at http://tinyurl.com/y3tc5hs.

– Over the last week, thousands on new members have joined the Liberal Democrats. If you are not already a member, you too can join today online at https://www.libdems.org.uk/join_us.aspx.

Rage against the LabCon machine … Nick Clegg for PM



Been out in Dundee West tonight with John Barnett and the team – and it is very clear that the move to support the Liberal Democrats is huge – really huge. The old politics is over and the panic amongst the Tories and Labour is palpable.

Liberal Democrats in the Dundee West constituency today formally adopted John Barnett as their candidate for Dundee West in the forthcoming General Election.

Married with two children at school, John has a law degree from the University of Dundee. He has been an active member of the Liberal Democrats since school and has been a campaigner and office bearer in London and Scotland. With experience in institutional finance, management and fundraising consultancy; as well as heritage and educational management in the charity sector, John draws upon a wealth of experience and is currently a member of the University of Dundee Audit Committee.

John has served as a member of the Steel Commission whose Report proposed a workable and sustainable blueprint for Scottish Home Rule within a modernised federal United Kingdom.

John’s particular interests are in the fields of education, international relations, public finance and human rights. Working with the two Liberal Democrat councillors in the constituency, John offers an alternative to the approach of Labour and the SNP by addressing the real issues of concern of local people.

A strong supporter of the project to bring the V&A to Dundee, John believes that serious investment in the transport infrastructure will be needed to support the forecast numbers of annual visitors to the city.

John said today, “The events of the last week and in particular the Prime Ministerial Debate show that there is great momentum behind the Liberal Democrat campaign. More and more people I meet in the constituency are turning to the Liberal Democrats this time.”

For a superb MP for Dundee West, vote John Barnett in Dundee West on 6th May.