Extracts from Nick Clegg's Spring Conference Speech 2015

March 15, 2015 12:01 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

In his speech to the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in Liverpool, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg is expected to say:

"We can do it.

"Ending austerity, cutting taxes, investing in education and health and protecting our environment ... we can say we will do these things because, unlike ever before, we have a record of action in Government to back us up.

"A record achieved not in a time of plenty where there is cash to throw around, but a record achieved in the toughest of circumstances.

"In May 2010, uncertainty was everywhere. As images of riots on the streets of Athens were beamed into British homes in the days running up to the election, people at home and abroad were looking to Britain and wondering if we would be next.

"So when the chance came to enter Government, the big question we faced was: could we rescue the British economy? It wasn't just a question of what we would do, but a question of whether we were up to the task.

"Would we, this brave third party with no experience of national government, have what it takes? Liberal Democrats, we have been tested and we passed the test.

"We rescued the economy. We held our nerve. And make no mistake, the recovery would not be happening without the Liberal Democrats.

"The story of the last five years is one of rescue at a time of emergency, but it is also a story of how we, in Government for the first time in generations, have delivered policy after policy to make Britain fairer.

"A story of spreading opportunity despite the toughest of circumstances.

"More than 1,400 gay people are now married - hopefully happily. More than two million apprentices are learning the skills they need for their careers.

"1.6 million boys and girls are getting a hot, healthy lunch every day at school. More than 26 million people on low-and-middle incomes have had their income tax cut every year, worth more than £800 from next month. And more than three million of the lowest paid workers are no longer paying any income tax at all.

"Nearly 12 million pensioners are getting a bit more in their pockets thanks to the triple lock guarantee.

"Twice as many homes are being powered by renewable electricity. 43,000 small businesses have been supported by the British Business Bank.

"No more children of asylum seekers are being locked behind bars. And shortly, thousands of soon-to-be mums and dads will be able to decide for themselves how to balance work and family.

"We did that. You did. All of us. Everyone in this room and everyone out knocking on doors, making phone calls and pushing leaflets through letterboxes. Every single one of us had a hand in making Britain fairer.

"We did something else too. Something historic.

"We changed the political landscape forever.

"Five years ago we were told a hung parliament would be a disaster for Britain. We were told that without a clear majority for one of the old, establishment parties, Britain would collapse into chaos. We proved them wrong.

"We broke the stranglehold of the two old parties and proved that coalition can be strong, stable and successful. We proved that the give and take of different parties working together can be a very British way of getting things done.

"We challenged the power of the vested interests on the left and right of the British establishment and we felt their wrath in return. And we are still standing.

"At the heart of our success has been an incredible resilience. As Labour and the Conservatives flailed around, pulled to the left and right by competing factions, we haven't wavered.

"We have remained strong and resolute, anchoring the Government in the mainstream centre ground, ensuring stability and making sure that tough decisions were taken as fairly as possible.

"It is because of our resilience that Britain has a strong, stable Government and a strong, stable recovery. It is because of our resilience that we have been able to achieve incredible things. And it is because of that resilience that we will defy the odds and win again this May.

"So when people tell you we can't, tell them where to go. I have a message for all those who are writing us off once again: the Liberal Democrats are here to stay.

"I've heard the predictions. I've seen the polls. But let me tell you this: we will do so much better than anyone thinks. In those seats where we are out in force, making our case loudly and proudly, we are the ones making the weather. I've seen it for myself in Liberal Democrat seats across the country.

"We are showing that with hard work, strong local campaign teams and a record of delivering for people in national and local government, we can and will win.

"We have demonstrated it in countless council elections. We have demonstrated it in mayoral elections in Bedford and Watford. And we demonstrated it in Eastleigh in the only parliamentary by-election that was held on our turf.

"It won't be easy, but winning shouldn't be.

"We need to persuade people every day between now and May the 7th that their lives will be better with Liberal Democrat councillors making a difference in their communities, Liberal Democrat MPs fighting their corner in Westminster and Liberal Democrat ministers serving them in Government.

"Every Liberal Democrat elected in May makes our voice louder. So get out there and tell people what we have done to help them and their community. No one else will do it for us. Tell them what we have done to build a stronger economy and a fairer society and what we want to do next.

"The story of the next five years must be one of hope. If you are thinking of voting Conservative but are worried that they won't be fair - don't do it. If you are thinking of voting Labour but are worried they will ruin the economy - don't do it. If you think a vote for UKIP, or the Greens, or the SNP is harmless - it isn't.

"If you want a stable government that won't lurch to the extremes of left or right, you have to vote for it. If you want a stronger economy and a fairer society, you have to vote for it.

"If you want a government that will create opportunities for everyone, vote Liberal Democrat. This is a fight for our future, for the decent values of our country - we can and we must win."