>Nick Clegg has recorded his first New Year Message with the Liberal Democrats in Government. He concentrates on the four points on which we fought the election in May: fair taxes, a fair start for every child, building a sustainable, green economy and cleaning up politics. I guess it’s fairly predictable.
Two points. The last time Nick You Tubed his New Year message was in 2009, and there were subtitles on it. Why not this time?
Also, I thought I’d take a wee look back at the last couple of years’ New Year Messages just to see what our priorities were then. Look back at 2009 – Nick talks about social mobility, fairness in the tax system sorting out the mess Labour has made by mortgaging our future, concentrating on families and young people, helping with childcare and the like. It’s actually quite telling how much of this kind of stuff we’ve actually been able to implement in Government – we’re going to be more flexible on parental leave to look after kids, letting families come up with their own solutions, taking 900,000 people out of tax altogether, reducing the power of the Prime Minister to choose the date of the election, a referendum on a fairer voting system which would mean MPs would have to work harder to gain the confidence of at least half of their constituents.
Have a look at it here:
I can’t find a You Tube version of last year’s – and neither can these lovely people at Lib Dem Voice or I’m sure they would have published it. In it, Nick talks about pressing the political reset button in 2010 – well, the first coalition government in 70 years was a good way to go about that and again we see the same key themes of fairness and sustainability. Here it is in full:
I have a confession to make: 2009 tested my belief in politics to breaking point.
I remember once looking round the House of Commons during another Punch and Judy session of Prime Ministers Questions. In the real world, youth unemployment had just reached its highest level ever, our brave soldiers were facing extraordinary dangers in Afghanistan, the bankers were still gorging themselves on bonuses, and the economy was in the middle of the worst recession in generations. And what were the politicians doing? Yelling and guffawing at each other as if the world outside didn’t exist.
So I don’t blame anyone for feeling a sense of despair about our clapped out political system. You are being taken for granted by the people in charge. Big money is hollowing out politics with some rich donors not even bothering to say whether they pay full British taxes or not. And to top it all the expenses scandals exposed some MPs as spivvy property speculators and tax evaders rather than public servants.
This whole set-up has to change. That’s what 2010 should be all about. Big, permanent change for the better.
People’s faith in politics may be dented, but I still believe in our ability to learn from the mistakes of the past, and set things on a new course.
2010 must be the year we press the political reset button.
But that will only happen if we do things differently. More of the same won’t produce anything new.
Of course both Labour and the Conservatives have learned to parrot the language of change. But where’s the proof they mean it? Despite all the hot air about fixing politics they have both voted against giving people the right to sack MPs who’ve seriously broken the rules. Both have refused to clean up the rotten system of party political funding. Both refuse to give you your say by introducing fair votes to the House of Commons. And both refuse to shake up the City of London, so that bankers can never again play Russian roulette with your savings.
Some people say, what’s the point of voting when the same old parties always win? I say: vote for what you believe in. If you like what the Liberal Democrats stand for, vote for it. If you want real change, not phoney change, vote for it. If you think things should be different, vote for it.
At the end of the day, politics should be about what you believe. What kind of Britain do you want to live in? What kind of world do we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in?
So as the countdown to the next General Election finally begins, I have a simple question for the other party leaders: what do you believe, really believe?
People don’t want leading politicians clinging on to power for its own sake, or just telling people what they want to hear. There’s got to be more to it than that.
I have one belief above all others: a belief in fairness. Under my leadership the Liberal Democrats have been working on new ideas to make Britain the fair country I believe most people want it to be. We want to raise standards in all of our schools by giving specific help to the children most in need, and by making class sizes smaller. Soon we will be publishing new ideas to turn our economy away from its over dependence on the City of London to a new, green economy where hundreds of thousands of new jobs will be created as we rebuild our transport, energy and housing infrastructure. Above all, we are now the only party with a detailed plan to make taxes fair – removing all income tax on the first £10,000 you earn, paid for by asking people at the top to pay a bit more.
If we as Leaders want people to turn out to vote at all at the next General Election, we have got to show people our convictions, not just dividing lines, our beliefs, not just soundbites.
I hope in the coming months even more people will get a chance to find out what I believe in, and the beliefs of the Liberal Democrats. If enough people share our convictions, our beliefs, then 2010 really can be the beginning of something new.
These three messages show that the Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg haven’t changed. We believe in the same things as we’ve always believed in and are doing everything we can to implement as much of it as we possibly can Government, giving people more power, making the tax system fairer, the pupil premium which will give a real chance of future success to kids from deprived backgrounds who until now have had little chance of escaping poverty regardless of their ability.
None of these things would be done by either Labour or the Conservatives governing alone and we should be proudly and boldly saying that. The same media which ignored us for years, as we have seen, is not going to suddenly start reporting our actual successes, so we’re going to have to do that ourselves. Yes there are things I don’t like about what the Coalition is doing and I’ll continue to tell you all about them – but you’ll also hear much about the significant and life-improving Liberal Democrat gains we’ve brought to the Government.
That wee trip down Memory Lane has shown me that Nick Clegg hasn’t changed and what makes him tick as a human being is exactly the same now as it was not just two years ago, but almost 13 years ago when I first met him.