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This Lib Dem conference was about two subtly different speeches

26 September 2012

Nick Clegg’s conference speech wasn’t designed to be a barn burner. Instead, it was meant to tell the party that there’s no turning back, that they now have to become a Liberal, centrist party of government.

The Clegg camp believes that up to 3 million of the 6.8 million votes they won at the last election might be gone for good. So, the party needs to go and find new voters. They believe these are to be found in the centre ground among those who don’t want to, as he put it, to ‘trust Labour with their money again’ and have doubts about whether the ‘Tories will make Britain fairer’.

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As one influential Lib Dem remarked to me earlier, this positioning would undoubtedly be the right strategy for a new political party. But whether it is correct for a party that already has a pool of voters and a whole series of preconceptions about it is another matter. But no one can say now that they don’t know where Clegg wants to take the Lib Dems.

This conference has been about two speeches, Vince Cable’s on Monday and Clegg’s today. There are subtle but substantial differences between the two. Clegg, for instance, didn’t mention the words ‘social democrat’ once. Instead, he pitched the party as a Liberal one. By contrast, Cable declared that ‘We fight for liberal and social democratic principles just as strongly inside government as out.’ The differences between these two visions will have to be resolved before the next election.

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Show comments
  • Noa

    A masterly photograph.
    As Vince charmlessly routes around his proboscis with his forefinger we are left to speculate on what Clegg makes of the bogie behind him.

  • Vulture

    There’s no turning back…there certanly isn’t. The imbecilic Clegg has locked his party into a car that is speeding over the cliff edge and his response is to jam his foot harder on the accelerator.
    The millionaire who squeals about taxing millionaires must be the biggest joke is British politics since Jeremy Thorpe made Norman Scott bite that pillow.

  • AnotherDaveB

    It doesn’t matter what Mr Clegg thinks. He’s not the future of the LDs. If he isn’t dumped after the 2014 local elections (combined with the EU elections) he’ll be dumped after the 2015 general election.

    Messrs Cable and Farron will decide the future direction of the LDs. They will be competing with the Greens and UKIP for the protest vote.

  • ghengis

    I feel sick to vomit at the antics of this party whilst terrorists in this country of ours are allowed to retain our nationalityand openly abuse our legal system.

  • Coffeehousewall

    “A fairer Britain” – one in which more money is taken from those who work for their living and given to those who do not.

    • telemachus

      From each according to their means
      To each according to their needs
      While promoting enterprise we should continue to care

    • 2truablue

      And they now want what little the retired might have saved whilst they worked, including their pensions. Scary, scary people. It is the new culture of envy and making the old and elderly a target for those who can not or will not provide the stlye of life they hanker after.

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