Friday, 19 October 2007

Nick Clegg's Speech in Full

Nick Clegg got his campaign off to a flyer today with a speech which quite rightly urges us to be bold, take risks and reach out to more people who are liberal with a small l.

Here's the speech he made today in full:

"I would like to say a few words about my plans for the future.

But before I do, I would like to pay tribute to my close friend and colleague Menzies Campbell.

Ming is a man of integrity, honour and decency. Over the years he has also shown himself to be a man of impeccable judgement and extraordinary political courage.

He led the opposition to the Iraq war. He stood firm against this government's criminal disregard for our hard won freedoms and rights.

He has done our country a great service.

He stabilized the Liberal Democrats in a time of crisis. He made us more professional. And he gave us a clear sense of direction and purpose.

He has done our party a great service too.

But we now need to look to the future.

If the Liberal Democrats are to change the tired old pattern of British politics, we will have to be bold. We will have to move outside our comfort zone, and take more risks than ever before.

The stakes are high.

Three party politics is in the balance. For two years now, the Liberal Democrats have been caught up in internal self-analysis. We cannot go on testing the patience of the British people.

We must come together now and make a long-term commitment to British liberalism.

We either step up or we will fall back for good.

The leadership election gives us a great opportunity.

An opportunity to talk – plainly and directly – to the British people. An opportunity to be an outward looking party again.

There are millions of people in this country who share our values, but don’t yet give us their votes. These are the people we must be talking to in the weeks ahead.

I want us to extend our reach, and broaden our appeal. I want us to take our message to every community, every home, every family.

And that is why today I am announcing my candidacy for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats.

I'm delighted to be doing it here in Sheffield. It's my experiences here as a local MP - and as an MEP just down the road in the East Midlands before that - that drive me on as a politician.

Like most people of my generation, I wasn’t born into a political party. I am a liberal by choice, by temperament and by conviction.

And when I talk to the people I represent, I become more convinced every day that only liberalism offers the answers to the problems they face.

A generation ago, many people just voted the way their parents and grandparents had voted. British politics was rigid and debate was narrow.

The left offered social justice. The right offered economic competence.
Everyone lined up on one side of the debate or another.

But today our society is more diverse and our politics more fluid.

Political allegiances are less fixed. People are less class conscious and deferential.

The new generation of voters just doesn't believe there are only two options, only two ideas worth having.

The change is already happening.

In 1951, 2 percent of people voted for a candidate who wasn’t Labour or Conservative. In 2005, it was thirty two percent.

The Liberal Democrats now have the opportunity, once and for all, to end the oppressive grip of two-party politics.

We can break apart the two-party system that has narrowed debate for so long.

And give a voice to the millions of people who feel they don’t have a voice in British politics at all.

We should be proud of the progress we have made. But we are not yet where we need to be.

I want the Liberal Democrats to become the gathering point for everyone who wants a different type of politics in Britain.

A politics that begins by giving power to people, their families and their communities.

A politics of people, not systems

Communities not bureaucracies.

Individual innovation not government diktat.

I believe that is the British way.

We are a nation with a strong sense of fair play and social justice. An instinct to protect the environment for future generations.

We are suspicious of arbitrary power, impatient with bureaucracy and wary of government interference.

We have always put our faith in the power of ordinary men and women to change our world.

Those are the best instincts of the British people. Those are the liberal instincts of the British people.

And they are the instincts that, under my leadership, will be at the heart of the Liberal Democrat vision for Britain".

All I can add to this is a loud hear, hear!

Naturally this is an overarching vision. I'm looking forward to seeing Nick and his policy team putting lots of bold, specific policy ideas forwards in the areas of: human rights (domestic and international); international relations and development; environmental protection, the economy; the relationship between the state and the individual; and a vision of how the Liberal Democrats will be organised to give ourselves a chance to deliver our distinctive policies.

A great start and I hope that this will continue.

No comments: