>I haven’t yet had either the time or the energy to read through the entire 92 pages of Nick Clegg’s new pamphlet, “The Liberal Moment.” I will do and I’ll write more about it later when this horrible cold that’s floored me these last few days has subsided a bit.
What he does in those pages is quite simple – he basically says that it’s time now for the Liberal Democrats to become the rallying point for those who want to see a society which has social justice, civil rights and fairness at its heart.
He takes apart David Cameron’s claim to be progressive, rightly pointing out the contradiction in the term progressive Conservative. It’s clear that he believes that the Conservatives will always instinctively protect the rich and powerful at the expense of the reform that we so badly need across all our policy areas.
Those of us who saw Nick during his leadership campaign will have seen his passion as he spoke of his horror that a person living in a poor part of his constituency in Sheffield could be expected to live for 12 years less than someone in a more affluent area. It’s his heartfelt commitment to do something about injustices like that, to give children who currently have no chance the hope of a successful future, to protect the planet for future generations and to work with other countries and organisations to build a fairer, more peaceful and secure world that makes him tick.
Ever since he’s been leader, I’ve been consistently impressed by how he has always come down on the side of fairness and justice, even when it’s not been the more popular line. He’s stood up against ID cards, even saying he’d refuse to have one himself even if they became compulsory, he was the first UK politician to condemn the appalling Israeli attacks on Gaza at the end of last year, he fought for the Gurkhas’ right to stay here, he took the unprecedented step of calling for the House of Commons speaker to resign when it was clear he was an obstacle to reform. While Brown and Cameron still prevaricate about when a cut isn’t a cut, Clegg and Vince Cable have come out with actual proposals, like scrapping the renewal of Trident.
You can guarantee that Nick will instinctively come down on the side of justice, social mobility and fairness, at home and abroad.
“So the real choice at the next election is not the old red-blue/ blue-red pendulum of British politics. It is between yellow and blue. A choice between a liberal movement — led by the Liberal Democrats — that is attracting disaffected progressive voters from a Labour Party which will take years to recover, if at all; and a Conservative Party that parrots the language of change to maintain the status quo. In short, an opportunity for progressives to do something different, and finally change things for good.”
He’s right to emphasise that only the Liberal Democrats have both the instincts, the imagination and the determination to deliver change that will empower rather than dominate people at every level of Government. Labour have had their chance and they’ve completely blown it, possibly for good.
He’s right to emphasise that the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are polar opposites in what we stand for.
He’s produced a serious and detailed piece of work which sets out the principles on which our policies are based in key areas like the economy, political reform and international affairs.
I think this is a good move on his part – a fresh politics go along with the fresh start for Britain theme for conference.