>Well, you weren’t really expecting me to slag off the Almighty Vince, were you? Although I would have done if he’d tried to justify cuts in benefits planned by the Government.
Anyway, our favourite economics guru reinforced his position as Official Hero of the Liberal Democrats a few minutes ago with a funny, thoughtful, inclusive speech.
Those lovely people at Lib Dem Voice have put the whole thing up here for you to read at your leisure but I thought I’d give you my thoughts on his best bits:
He played up to his casting as Karl Marx mark 2 by some of the more hysterical sections of the right wing press by addressing Conference as Comrades with a cheeky glint in his eye.
He started by saying the speech was a report back to Conference about what he’d been doing: upsetting banks, the Telegraph and rich businessmen who avoid paying UK tax. He thinks this is a good thing.
He’s stumbled as he came onto the stage, in much the same way as Pamela Stephenson did in the Strictly launch show – and in fact he joked that he had introduced dance classes into the Coalition – but he kept treading on the Home Secretary’s toes (over the ridiculously stupid immigration cap) and he had discovered he had two left feet.
He then said it was exhausting being in bed with the Tories because of the fights over he duvet. He emphasised how important it was for us to keep our distinctive identity, in and out of the Government. “We went though a merger to form this party and will never merge again.”
He concluded his remarks later on by saying how vital it was that our Conference, of a party with a democratic structure and clear principles and values, kept the ministers honest. Can you imagine any Minister in your lifetime having that sort of attitude to their Party?
He had a good go at Labour – saying they had plans to cut his department by 20-25% and now oppose every cut, “ranting with synthetic rage”, saying that they had no foresight in Government and now even don’t have any hindsight.
He also reminded us that it was he and Nick Clegg who talked about savage cuts last year, before the election, before anybody else was. People knew what they’d said because Labour reminded them at every opportunity and still they voted for us. I say that we should remember that every single time Labour accuse us of selling out.
If he was scathing about Labour, that was nothing to what he had to say about the banks, who he said “did more damage than Bob Crow in his wildest Trotskyite fantasies could imagine”
He talked about the main things he was working on to ensure a sustainable economic recovery:
“Markets are often irrational and rigged so I’m shining a harsh light into the murky operations of the corporate world” to encourage competition which is essential to his “pro market, pro business agenda”.
Promising a revolution in post 16 education and training
Fighting within Government for any graduate tax to be earnings related – enshrining our principle of fairness. “Why should nurses and youth workers pay the same as corporate lawyers and investment bankers?!
After sucking up to Conference, he ended on a motivating call to action for Liberal Democrat activists up and down the country:
In a few short months we have showed how we can advance our party’s policies and principles while serving the wider national interest. But we need to sell this message. The Tories will not do that for us. We have to do it ourselves. That means focus leaflets and doorsteps. That means you. We need you. All of you.
It was a very well judged speech combining humour with rebuttal with promises of action.