Coffee House

Nick Clegg to tell business leaders: we’re your friends

24 October 2012

Nick Clegg is giving a speech this evening in which he will try to re-sell the Liberal Democrats as friends of business. Admitting that he hasn’t ‘said enough’ about the party’s pro-business policies, he will tell the guests at Mansion House:

‘Many in the corporate world do not – automatically – see the Liberal Democrats as natural allies. Perhaps that’s because, most recently, we’ve rightly earned ourselves a reputation as loud critics of corporate irresponsibility… Not least in financial service following the crash in 2008. Yet, historically, the Liberal Democrats are a party of industrialists and small business… And, since coming into government, we’ve been taking decisions, day in, day out, to promote British business.’

Those decisions include ‘ensuring a sensible approach to Europe’, a ‘sensible approach to immigration’ and ‘pushing for more investment in green industry’. Strangely enough, these are all areas where the two coalition parties disagree. In particular, while the Conservatives see Europe as a barrier to business – research by Open Europe has found that 71 per cent of the £176 billion cost of regulation to the UK economy since 1998 originated from EU legislation – the Lib Dems are wary of attempts to scale back Britain’s relationship with the EU. While Nick Clegg wants to increase investment in green energy, Tories are concerned about the effects that picking winners will have on energy bills. He does have a point when he says the Lib Dems are ‘determined to defend and deepen the Single Market – protecting our place in it’, as it is this that business leaders worry the most about.

But what is striking is that the leader of the party which runs the Business department is having to make a speech in which he says ‘I want you to be confident that my party is on business’ side’. It doesn’t say a great deal for Vince Cable’s work as Business Secretary that his boss feels the need to persuade business leaders that the Lib Dems do like them and care about them, as though they might possibly have failed to notice that so far.

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  • mcclane

    He wants to be my friend? Tell him not to look for me on Facebook.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Excruciating and desperate stuff Ms Hardman.
    Why doesnt Meneer Clog and ‘Vince’ emulate their uber hero BHO and deliver a more honest message to business?
    Something like;
    “You didn’t build that” “Your money is our money” “You didn’t build that” would be a tad more honest would it not?
    btw – you can bid a fond farewell to my subscription renewal. I can read reams of this sort of cock elsewhere

  • Archimedes

    The problem with Clegg is that he only has one mode. It’s that patronising voice, and way of putting things, that is designed for two year olds and TV cameras; the I’m right and everyone else is wrong – but I’m also very modest about that being the case voice. I’m sure business leaders will thoroughly enjoy being subject to Clegg’s notion that they have just rejoined nursery school.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Unfortunately that wheedling voice and whining approach, a sort of male version of Yvette Cooper and umpteen Labour women MPs who come across as permanently victimised, hurt and suffering, reflects an increasingly wet masculinity pervading not just parliament but the country as a whole. Oh dear, if only we could share and conform to their righteous and sanctimonious view of the world, how sad that we cannot, and what unacceptable, un-reconstructed dissidents that makes us, sad Little Englanders and assorted ‘phobes against all manner of specially favoured and elite-sponsored causes.

  • Andy

    What a load a twaddle. Next thing we’ll be told that the Labour Party is a great friend of business and a stout defender of Liberty.

  • TomTom

    I wish he would go to Sheffield Hallam and tell Students he is a friend of theirs ! For the son of a banker to tell businesses he is on their side when Rolls-Royce says it has a $60 billion Order Book but has to ensure its suppliers can get funding to survive because Clegg is in a Government stuffing banks full of lucre and killing Real Businesses is a bit rich…….still his wife does well at DLA PIper on Windmills

    • telemachus

      So what evidence do you have for the RR crap
      He is a greasy toad but not an economic criminal like Osborne

      • TomTom

        Rolls-Royce itself – go google yourself dimwit and look at Daily Mail 17 Oct and Rolls Royce Supplier Finance Program on their Website. You must be a dimwit LibDem to call RR “crap”

    • Nicholas K

      His wife has actually moved on to another Big Law outfit, Dechert, but I think it safe to assume it was not done for altrusitic reasons.
      According to:
      profits per equiy partner (and La Cleggova is surely one of those) are said to be £1.3m a year. Nice. No problems paying Vince’s mansion tax there, just jack up the fees a bit if necessary: with regulatory work spawned by EU legislation the clients don’t really have a choice, they have to have someone well-connected to guide them through the minefield.

      • Nicholas K

        sorry, “…done for altruistic reasons”.

  • ToryOAP

    Christ Ms Hardman, with all that has been going on for the last few weeks, I had totally forgotten about the poor old libtards. There has been an absence of pie in the sky announcements, no block this and block that, and for a short blissful period one didn’t have to put up with their whining europhile voices. Nice to see they now want some friends in business but who would trust them? Cameron and Osborne, though screwing up royally, have the bit between their teeth and will make all the running from now on. Expect to see your libtard friends being sidelined on: energy, welfare, justice, the EU and the economy from now until the election. May last week and Cameron today on prisoner voting are signs of what to expect from here on – a Conservative government perhaps?

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