Conference Special: Part 1 Daily Politics

Conference Special: Part 1

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Afternoon, folks. The sun is out and the sky is blue and the


economic backdrop is grim and getting grimmer. Maybe that is why


the Lib Dems have voted to create a National Institute of well-being.


For all of you cynics out there, -- before you scoff, I wanted to know


that I feel better already, even We will be talking to Danny


Alexander. That is not all, because Jo is here in Birmingham as well,


so it must be an important day. What a welcome. I am here as well,


I will be looking back at what a turbulent year the Liberal


Democrats have had. It has not been plain sailing for Nick Clegg. What


with tuition fees, the a be a referendum and health. If you are a


member of the party, you may not want to watch our review of the


year, a health warning for you. And Yes, all that coming up in the next


hour of political pantomime. Sorry, I mean public service broadcasting


at its finest. We have the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury,


David Laws MP. Welcome back. How is life outside the cabinet? Not bad,


I am a strong supporter of the coalition, -- government. What have


you been up to? I have my job to do as a Member of Parliament and I am


supporting the government involved in the parliamentary services bill.


Sometimes you seem to be supporting the government more than some of


the members of the government? not sure about that but I believe


it is important that the Liberal Democrats should play a


constructive role in the coalition. Sometimes we need to act as a


breaker in particular areas. But our role in the coalition


government is to be partners and to pursue a constructive partnership


and make sure we get as much of foreign policy agenda implemented


in government. I understand that, it is true of any party in a


coalition. But constructive relationship, it hasn't exactly


been the hallmark of speeches. Are you comfortable with this Tory


bashing? I think the party has been trying to find the right balance in


coalition, between making clear to the electorate that there is


distinction between the Liberal Democrats, in the case of values


and policies, many of them, but demonstrating something that the


public were sceptical about in May 2010, that two parties with


different traditions could work together. I think in the first year


we got the balance wrong, the public felt we were not hearing


enough from the Liberal Democrats - - they were not hearing enough. In


the second year, we have tried to get the balance right and I am sure


that we will do. The party has been trying to re-establish its identity,


that is part of the motive for the Tory bashing. In most areas, your


policy, the party's policy, is the policy of the coalition government.


You haven't got a separate defence policy from the coalition


government, or do you? We have our own policies as Liberal Democrats,


but we have agreed with the Conservatives, a plan for coalition


government. Sometimes a very big issues like tax, the Conservatives


have made concessions, so we are delivering. You have not got


policies in the main areas, because they are the combine compromised


policies of the coalition. There is not a separate Lib Dem policy on


growth, or is there? That is the nature of coalition, that you come


together, and agree while you are governing together, to make those


compromises. At the next general election, we will still have all of


the parties competing between themselves with our own policy


agendas. It will then be up to the public to decide which of those to


support. The Lib Dems' policy for growth is the same as the


coalition's, at the moment? That's right, we are working within the


coalition government to make sure we have strong support for the


deficit reduction strategy, that we were part of shipping, but to make


sure, in a very challenging year for the whole of the developed


world economy, that we are doing everything we can to support growth,


which is critical to the deficit reduction strategy, and there is a


lot we can do one grows. Why isn't it working -- on growth. We have


had international developments that have been unfavourable. Oil prices


going up 50%, food prices doubling, chaos in the eurozone, the US


economy slowing down, the Japanese tsunami. All of those are


international events, some of those we can help to correct in the


future, we need to be working in the eurozone to sort out the


problems. Some are outside the power of the British Government in


the short term. We can obviously do things, and that debate is


happening within the government at the current time, to support growth.


I understand it is difficult time for everybody. The IMF poss


downgrade of growth forecast was worse for us than for Europe or the


United States, we are barely going to grow by 1%. So we are worse.


next year, we are forecast to grow in line with all of the major


developed economies. In fact, faster than a number of developed


countries. But not this year? year we are forecast, and the other


major economies are forecast to be growing in the 1%, to 1.5% zone, so


all very similar. The problems we have in the United Kingdom are not


some particular aspect of the way the government is conducting


economic policies, they come as a consequence of international


problems, including the very big squeeze on purchasing power,


because of the rise in inflation due to the oil price and food price


shocks. The IMF said it activity were to undershoot current


expectations, and this is me, that is certainly true in Britain, you


have undershot your growth forecasts, countries that face


historically low yields, and that is also Britain, should also


consider delaying some of their planned adjustments. In other words,


budget cuts. Why did you follow the IMF's and vice? -- advice.


should be sticking with our deficit-reduction plan. It doesn't


say that. That is what they have said clearly about Britain,


yesterday and in all of their statements over the last few months.


They have been absolutely clear they don't want us to change.


page 79 of the World economic Outlook, they say that countries


like Britain... They don't say if you have got a big deficit, you


shouldn't... They are saying if you can borrow cheaply, you should


consider delaying budget cuts. Why wouldn't you do that? They were


asked this question about Britain yesterday and they made clear they


support the existing strategy of the government. It is that strategy


that is keeping interest rates low, helping businesses and mortgage


payers, and potentially giving scope to the Bank of England to


carry out further measures to ease monetary policy, if they think that


is necessary. That would not happen if they talk it up. If the Vince


and -- tore it up. If Vince Cable called for a new style fiscal


stimulus, he is wrong and not going to get it question are he is


He is absolutely supporting that he believes the government's deposit


reduction strategy should stay in place. He has pointed out sensibly


that the Bank of England, when inflation comes down next year as


we believe it will do, has the scope to do more quantitative


easing. Why did he not call for a fiscal stimulus? He is supporting


the policies that Danny Alexander has implemented this week, for


example, where we have found an additional half a billion pounds to


put into capital expenditure. you seriously looking me in the


face and saying that half a billion pounds of a trillion pound economy


is a new deal style fiscal stimulus? Tell me. I am saying it


is one of a whole series of things that the government is doing, and


can be going along with the Bank of England, to support growth. Danny


Alexander has made it clear there will be no extra fiscal stimulus. A


new deal style stimulus is not saying, we will bring something


sport, we will change the money and spend it here rather than there.


The key is in the world stimulus. It is extra, and that is not going


to happen, is that right? There are other ways of delivering a stimulus


to the economy that don't simply rely upon the government breaking


public expenditure plans. The CBI has described a number of ways in


which the private sector could play a bigger role in supporting growth


in infrastructure spending. It is not investing because it doesn't


really... It hasn't got confidence in the coalition government to


provide the economic framework that would make investment sensible.


don't think that is right. I have spoken to the head of the CBI, is


supportive of what the government is doing. He doesn't have money to


invest. He is looking for the government, which is what the


government is also seeking to do, to support private business


investment, and talking about the role in infrastructure. Why isn't


business investing? Business is reliant on the general state of the


economy, and we have been buffeted in the United Kingdom by the same


pressures... We have considered that. And we need to look at doing


the things we can do to support the businesses that have got the money,


but also potentially, to get additional credit through to the


small and medium-sized business centre, where we know there are


genuine credit constraints. There is a crisis building up in the


wholesale money markets, that any banks with substantial sovereign


debt exposure can't even borrow now, or they borrow a very high rates


and a very short term. It is of a big concern in the United Kingdom


there we have this crisis of confidence in the eurozone, that


To we have a big stake, even though we are not members of the euro, to


solve those problems out. Dee's be a lot to Nick Clegg, David Cameron?


-- do you speak a lot? I don't believe in phoning up the


leadership 10 times a day and giving them my advice. What about


once a day? When I have something to say that I think maybe useful, I


feed it in. When they think I have anything to say, they may ask my


views. But they have plenty of other very good advisers. Danny


Alexander is over there now. He is doing a damn good job. Waiting in


the wings, he is joining us in a minute. He is doing a damn good job.


You have to say that. He is. Many people in the media were throwing


stones original, they are not throwing them now. The Daily


Politics has never thrown a stone at Danny Alexander, I want that on


the record. We have not thrown one and you either, maybe the odd


pebble, or a Chucky. Do you know what that is? Danny will tell you


what that is. David Lloyds likes plan A, at least that is what he


told us -- David Laws likes. What about you? Are you a A, or B


person? We sent Adam off with his box of tricks to find out.


This conference is taking place against a backdrop of grim news


about the economy. The most recent piece being the IMF downgrading its


forecast for Britain's growth this year. Do the Lib Dem delegates


thinks the government should stick to its plan a on the economy, or is


it time for a Plan B? It is very difficult. We don't know if the


plan is working or not. There is no Plan B. I would like to put it in


plan B, but I can't see a credible, coherent alternative, so I'll have


to go with plan A, against my best wishes. You have gone for plan A,


why? It is difficult, but it is slowly moving in the right


direction. I think we ought to stick with it. If we change


direction, it will undermine the markets. Let's -- it is time for


Plan B. Plan A is looking... Affecting the low-paid, the


underprivileged only. We now need to speed up the tackling of the


rich. One thing you can say about the Conservatives, it does hurt and


sometimes the cuts are not fair, but they usually do saw the economy


out to an extent. I hope it is the crude way of judging economic


policy. I would not take part in that because I am a plan A plus


person. I am not trying to be difficult. If you were Michael


Crick, I would give the same answer. Your menu choice is to be expanded,


it is never that simple. What do you think of this as a polling


method? As long as you choose the sampled the cricket, this is


precisely the method as the one we used to predict the general


election in our exit poll -- as long as you choose the sample


correctly. That is the seal of approval from the experts. I will


probably go for plan B at the Vince Cable, right up your street,


Plan A or plan B on the economy? No, perhaps he does not have a view.


Let's see who is in the lead, it is planning by a mile. But a lot of


people have said they are voting for Plan A plus. Vince Cable, do


you want to pick up one of the balls? You have got it control on


the interest rates on sovereign debt. Plan B leads to greater cuts


in the long term. Are you confident that pioneers working? I am apply


any person, but not with any joy, and no one really knows how it is


going to pan out. The Liberal Democrats should not be helping the


Conservatives so much. The reason there is not much in Plan B is


possibly, what is plan B? Labour need to tell us what they would do.


Below loads of delegates have voted and it is clear there are singing


from the same hymn sheet. Most people are in favour of planning.


Like David Laws, the rank-and-file were on message for Plan A,


although some without much enthusiasm. As if by magic, we get


two for the price of one, the former Chief Secretary to the


Treasury, David Lodge, and now we have his successor. -- David Laws.


It is Danny Alexander. My worry is that I will not get a cigarette


paper between the two of you. Let me try. Has Vince Cable ever


suggested that he wants more capital spending? What we have


discussed is what I have been describing today, how do we make


sure that the capital spending we have set aside, which we prioritise,


how do we make sure that happens on schedule? Bureaucracy often holds


these things up in government and we cannot afford for that to happen.


Can we use our spending more effectively to help the private


sector and bring forward developments. The thing I announced


on Sunday was a fund specifically aimed at unlocking local


development sites that have been stalled. That is intelligent use of


the money. We're committed to the spending plans we have set out


because it is important to our nation's credibility. So it is


fiddling, moving around the deck chairs, but not adding to the


number of deckchairs? I am not sure I want to pursue the deck chairs


analogy. It is in the context of the massive work going on in


government to identify the things we can do to help economic growth.


I would argue that our deficit reduction plan is the foundation of


growth, but many things, like the regulation, the planning sector,


these are all there to lift the productive potential of our economy.


Words mean nothing if we cannot agree that that does not amount to


a new deal style fiscal stimulus. It is not a fiscal stimulus, it is


sticking within our existing spending plans. We're spending �700


billion of public money this year. 50 % of GDP. Over the course of


this financial period, 2.8 trillion pounds will be spent by government.


We cannot spend �700 million and -- if we cannot spend �700 million and


do some good, we need to try something else. He cannot comment


because he is the Treasury minister, but you are not, should the Bank of


England going for more quantitative easing? Provided we hold course on


the deficit reduction plan, which is what we're going to do, if the


economy remains weaker than we would like because of international


pressures, the bank will be in a position to consider different


sorts of quantitative easing. Particularly as we know that it is


likely that the uncomfortable inflation we have had this year is


likely to come back down next year, because the increase in food and


energy prices will not feed through again. You can comment on this


because you are a backbencher. Is it not inevitable that giving


Greece's public debt is now heading for 200 % of its GDP, and the


economy is declining by 6%, that Grease defaults as night follows


day? I think that the fault is not the word I would use. -- a


defaulting. The Eurozone governments need to come together


with the Greek government to do two things. To have a serious strategy


for deficit reduction in Greece and to look at where there the debts


they have got, which are difficult to manage, can be re scheduled to


make them bearable. How can you ask the Greeks to do more when as the


schools went back last week they did not even have textbooks? We can


ask them to deliver on the promises they may can be serious about that,


and secondly, if they do those things they can expect assistance


from the other EU governments, which could include re scheduling


their dead so that the burden is bearable. If we put to march on


Grease, we will create problems. You can answer this question but I


am not sure that you will. When we will look at what is happening in


the money markets, for the financial system to work, banks


need to borrow from the wholesale market, then they lent to us. That


is drying up in the way it did before the collapse of Lehman


Brothers. The banks are not able to earn because they have Greek debt


on their balance sheets. Are we not on the brink of another major


financial meltdown? I would not necessarily draw those parallels


myself but there is a lot of uncertainty in the market. That is


fuelled by doubts about the ability of politicians to get to grips with


the problems they have. People like it the United States and see the


Congress and the President not been able to agree. People look at the


Eurozone and see those governments not coming up with solutions as


quickly as they need to. markets and are acting in a way...


The reason why the markets are not lending money to the banks is


because they see the politicians are not doing anything to sort the


problem and that in itself will create a financial crisis. We need


to see those steps taken in those countries. Are you nervous about


the current situation? It is extremely challenging. It has a


real effect on the economy of this country and people in every corner


of the United Kingdom. That is why we're working with our partners in


the Eurozone to encourage them to take steps that need to be taken,


and make sure that each country does the right thing in terms of


its own economic situation. It is not often you get two chief


secretaries, one former and one current, so I have a quiz for you


both. Who said in January 2009, printing money is the last resort


to desperate governments when all other policies have failed? Was if


you, Andrew. No. I need to spend more time listening to my


colleagues' speeches! It is your current boss, George Osborne, the


Chancellor. He said that printing money is the economics of Mugabe?


think that was Vince Cable. You are correct. Do we have a bigger


structural deficit than we thought, because the Financial Times report


this week came out with a structural deficit of 12 billion


more than what you calculations are based on? We set up an independent


Office For Budget Responsibility to take the judgment of those things


out of the hands of politicians. I will wait for their forecast rather


than relying on speculation. was borrowing at a record in


August? I thought you were meant to be cutting borrowing? You have been


in power for 17 months and you had to borrow �16 billion in August.


That has never happened in our history. There were special factors.


The previous month, borrowing had been much lower than it had been


the previous year. We have one of the largest deficits of any


developed country. When we came into office, borrowing 150 billion,


we're bringing it down this year. That is still greater than the cost


of funding the entire National Health Service. This is why you


think you have to bring it down? Correct. The target is 122 billion


this year? Yes. That is what was set out. We are on target for this


year. The Office For Budget Responsibility's calculations


assumed a higher growth rate and we're currently experiencing, so


are you not going to have lower tax rates and higher welfare payments


to make? A inflation has an impact on those kind of cost, feeding


through in future years. That is what the last will be are forecast


showed. We will see what they came out with in November. -- the last


Office For Budget Responsibility forecast. People need to have


confidence in Britain's ability to pay off her debts. Would you like


your old job back? Sadly, I think Danny Alexander is doing too good a


job. When will we see you back in government? I do not know. I am a


strong supporter of the coalition but we have very good ministers,


including at the Treasury. You were a Business Secretary? If you were a,


you would be more on message than the current one? Despite your


mischief-making attempts, we have a very good Business Secretary.


rank-and-file Want You Back, let's look at the audience. They are


mostly journalists. I think they have come to see the current Chief


Secretary. That is The Daily Politics audience. They have come


here to see you today. Thank you to board if you for being such good


sports and for being here on The Daily Politics. Let's go to Jo.


It is time now for some hacks, not me, of course. There was a time


that discussing leader trip troubles was as much part of party


conferences as nursing a hangover. -- leadership troubles. Not that


this one, everyone seems to be solidly behind Nick Clegg, but if


that changes, how do you get rid of Liberal Democrat leader? Here is


Giles. There are a number of circumstances


that can provoke a Liberal Democrat leadership election and there are


all covered in article 10 of the party's constitution. The triggers


for such a contest are if the leader calls an election, such as


Charles Kennedy did, or resigns, such as Menzies Campbell did, or


resigns or dies or is incapacitated. That involves the leader but the


only way for the party to force a leadership election is if there is


a vote of no confidence colt by a majority of MPs are request for a


leadership election by at least 75 local parties. You cannot just put


your hat in the ring, you need at least 10 % of the parliamentary


party to support you, 200 party members, and they have got to be


from at least 20 different local parties. That is a lot of telephone


bashing. But things are rosy-ish for the current leader. Bound


though he is by being in a coalition with the Conservatives,


which some Liberal Democrats do not like, it is unlikely for the time


being that anyone will use these rules to challenge Nick Clegg.


Charles reporting there. Keeping the company, we have Simon Hoggart


from the Guardian and Andrew Pierce from the Daily Mail. Andrew, you


could say that Nick Clegg has survived? There has not been a


leadership challenge which is an achievement in itself? If you


consider where the party was after the AV referendum, when they were


crushed, a blow for her Nick Clegg's authority, it was a success


for him. Byatt I am surprised he has not died of boredom this week


because this has been uninteresting. Really? Yes, it is flat. The


problem is that this conference hall is too big for the Liberal


Democrats. They need a smaller venue because they are a small


party. There is not a lot of policy in terms of announcements? No.


know we should not say these things, but if Nick Clegg were to fall


under the proverbial bus, who would replace him? It would be between


Chris Huhne, and Tim Farron, the party president, who is a


Lancashire lad. He said yesterday, the economy is barbered. I do not


think he will fall under a bus. There would be a great dividing


point between the Liberal Democrats and the Tories if that Nick Clegg


had to go back and say, our people will not change their view on this


one. People keep raising the subject of divorce, but if you do,


your spouse may take the hint after a while. I think that is what Tim


Isn't it a synthetic cardamom, marriage, divorce, distancing --


synthetic argument? We sound like relationship counsellors. They are


in a dysfunctional relationship because they loathe each other.


all of them. A lot of it, or they want to beat the Tories when they


campaign. It is an unlikely pressure, they have done incredibly


well to keep it together and I think it will continue. Nick Clegg


seems more relaxed at this conference, which is slightly


bizarre, if you think the calculation when they came into the


coalition was that fears of austerity, economic upturn and we


will get back in next I -- a few years of austerity. What happens to


the party? It is descending into Death Valley. I did gather a report


of Nick Clegg smiling once. There is a whole website of Nick Clegg


looking sad! That missing puppy that his children lost has not


turned up yet. He reminds me of an exasperated headmaster with the


recalcitrant school assembly. In the question and answers session he


was tetchy with those Liberal Democrat members, because he wants


to make this work and he is fed up with them complaining and moaning.


He should talk to Vince Cable who complained and moaned all through


his speech. Do you think that needs to change? Does there need to be


more uplifting? Truth and honesty, it fair enough but you have to have


something to be uplifting. You have to talk about the sunny uplands


even if they are not going to happen. Every study of politics


shows that it is the optimism that wins. Ronald Reagan it knew nothing


about the role of government but he was an optimist. You need a smack


of that. Why do you think Nick Clegg is more relaxed? Is it


because they feel the rock bottom was tuition fees, that has gone,


and the AV referendum was I think that is it. He has displayed what


is called muscular liberalism. It is a way of trying to have a


different narrative, he feels he has pitched it right and he is


cheering up his activists. If you Conservatives watching this, will


they be interested, will they be put off? You have the realists who


might say, we have got to stick with these people, at least until


the next election. You have the head bangers who are saying, these


appalling people are holding us back from going Britain what it


really needs. Whenever Paddy Ashdown specs, the conference is a


little bit electrified. -- speaks. I don't think they're going to be


excited this afternoon. Talking of excitement, you can have a badge.


Which one would you like? I love mansion tax, Andrew Pierce? I think


I will have don't panic. I have already pinched, I love the


EU, but it is ironic! Is it? -- I love the euro. The Liberal


Democrats used to La for the euro, it is very much in the past.


used to love the euro. Has it been a good or bad year for the Liberal


Democrats. Can you remember the ups and downs? This will jog your


We confounded those who said that coalition government was impossible.


The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are, and always will


be, separate parties with distinct history is and different futures.


But for this Parliament, we work together. To raise the cap on


tuition fees is wrong. We will resist, vote against, campaign


against any lifting of that cap. course, I feel really bad. It is


one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do, to own up to


the fact that I signed a pledge which I feel I can't deliver.


Graduates should make some contribution for the benefit of


going to university, the question is how. The road to Westminster are


covered with the skid marks of different political parties


changing direction on this issue. The waiting is over, this was to be


the day of the cuts. The day when people would learn what they meant


for their jobs, their pensions, to their services. Today is the day


when Britain steps back from the brink. We are picking on the week


is society -- you are picking on the week is people in this society


and it is completely unfair, how you have applied this budget.


the real world, the richest are paying the most. There is no doubt


Getting up early, what I call a lot of Britain, working hard, we are on


AV would be wrong for Britain. It is obscure, it is unfair, it is


expensive. This is a campaign built on lies and a deeply personal


attack on the Deputy Prime Minister. If you thought it was all over, it


is now. By well over two to one, Britain voted not to change its


This is a bitter blow for those people like me to believe in the


need for political reform. We are seeing a repeat pattern of northern


cities where the Liberal Democrats are losing not just one or two, but


virtually all of their This is not the moment to embark


upon the reorganisation of the most trusted public service in the whole


of the United Kingdom. Pause. Listen. To reflect. We are not


afraid to disagree, to have the debate and bring together the best


of our ideas. You will see a strong liberal


identity in a strong coalition government. You might even call it


You can't smash a window and grabbed a BlackBerry, a pair of


shoes, a T-shirt that you like the look of and sometimes you think you


The idea that we are going to shift of focus to the wealthiest in the


country when everyone is under pressure is cloud-cuckoo-land.


is right to privatise the help to millions of people who need it the


most, and not to a small minority of people who don't need as much


help. In other words, the people at That was the year, and I am joined


now by Lorely Burt, the chair of the Liberal Democrat party. We have


seen that the party has been battered over the past year to some


extent, by tuition fees, the drubbing at the local elections,


the AV referendum. Are you in denial about the state of the party,


Alan? No. One of the reasons that your previous commentator found it


boring is that there is no great row or bust-up. For me, the


highlight of the year was 5th April when 1 million people came out of


income tax because Liberal Democrat policy had been carried out. People


have things they want the coalition to do, but there are things they


are delighted it has done. suppose I am thinking more about


where the party is at. There may have been no big bust ups, but it


is a sort of, we haven't got an alternative, cross our fingers,


everyone is looking cheerful. Should they be? Yes, because they


are doing what is right, supporting a party into coalition. We have


been arguing that we should change our political system to one in


which parties work together. you lost on the AV referendum, it


is gone for a generation? We have a coalition now in the present system.


The present system will deliver governments that do not have a


majority, that have to form coalitions. The old loyalties to


the old parties have dissipated and it is a much more fluid politics.


This conference has been all about differentiation. We have heard that


word endlessly. But the latest poll says 68% of the public don't know


what Nick Clegg stands for, that is a big problem. We have always been


branded as, the nice Liberal Democrats. That is because you were


never in powerful top yeah, we like to vote for you but we are not sure


what you stand for. -- that was because you're never in power


before. Now they know that we are standing for working for the good


of the country. That is a very broad thing. What is it that Nick


Clegg stands for? Fairness, improving the tax system, so that


the least well are able to pay benefit most. He stands for green


ness, the Green Bank, we are going to be the greenest government ever.


We have restored the earnings link, we have done so many things since


we have been in government. suppose the issue of the green tax


is a number one concern, energy prices, these are not things that


people support. Energy prices are rising, not because of things that


we are putting into place but because of what is happening


elsewhere in the world. We have got to take action to get our own


economy, based on our own energy. Lorely Burt has listed the


achievements, why is the party at rock bottom? Doldrums in the polls,


popularity at the bottom. If you have done so much wonderful stuff,


why aren't you doing better? We had to take difficult decisions which


involved cutting back on things we would prefer not to do. The tuition


fees decision is one we would not have chosen to make. We are in a


much worse financial position than we expected. We have produced a


fair position for people on lower incomes. We have a message to


deliver to people. In a conference like this, the coverage will start


to tell people what we stand for. Do you agree with Vince Cable that


it is time for a stand at -- time for a stimulus? We already


delivering a stimulus, we can't increase the amount we are spending


over and above what we do. We could see the Bank of England putting


more money into the economy, the famous quantitative easing. Vince


Cable can't say that sort of thing publicly. What about a stimulus,


what about growth? Do you agree with Vince Cable, even if what he


said isn't going to happen? Would you like to see more money come in


now? I would love to see more money, but we haven't got the money. So


much of it is going on redressing If we don't get that right, we


asked daft as a country. Name one thing you would like to see the


Liberal Democrats claim credit for in the rest of this Parliament --


we are staffed as a country. fairness agenda. Meaning what?


Fairness to pensioners... What specific policy would you like to


see? I would like to see more to do with... My area is business. I


would like to see fairness between working people and companies as


well, giving companies what they need to be able to grow, but


insuring people get their fair rewards as well. The 50p tax rate,


shouldn't the Liberal Democrats be more worried about what happens at


the other end rather than at the We are not going to touch the 50p


tax rate and less, and until we have raised the threshold for


people on low incomes, and found better ways of making sure the


richest people pay their share. Take a bad, what would you like? --


take a badge. I love high-speed rail. That would bring a great


economic stimulus to the West Midlands, so I will take this on.


back the coalition. What a loyalist Party members have been taking part


in an emergency debate on the NHS. It is probably fair to say that


Nick Clegg has taken a bit of a pasting by some of the speakers.


Listen to this. He has done an enormous amount of work, as have


many in our parliamentary party to get these concessions, but we


should never have been made in the first place, Nick Clegg should not


have put his name to it because it was not what we agreed. Nick Clegg


has had massive publicity saying that no one would be able to make a


profit out of our children's education. But what I do not


understand is why eight days or Kate... Sorry, why is it not OK to


make a profit out of our children's education, but it is OK to make a


profit out of our bad health? For my real concern, speaking to people


in the youth and children's sector is the impact of this at the sharp


end, the fragmentation of services which will have an impact on


children. How many more children will end up being taken into care


or even been a missed, like Baby P? I am worried that we are


fragmenting services that are so important for every single one of


us. That is not about party politics, but about why we came


into politics, caring for our nation. Let's get the thoughts of a


man who apparently, party president, Tim Farron, wants to be like when


he grows up. I speak of the deputy leader, Simon Hughes. Who do you


want to be when you grow up? Do not say Tim Farron. I think I am past


thinking about this. But these health reforms, they are not


popular with your members? How did you end up down this road? There is


a simple answer, and there is a lot of work to do on the bill in the


Lords. Our members there are clear about that. I thought the party


leadership wanted to close that down, you had your rebellion in


March? No, what we did not want was a full-scale debate to open up


everything. To answer your first question, how we are here, this was


not a Bill that came from the coalition agreement. It seemed to


surprise everybody, including David Cameron. That may be true but I


have no problem of following the coalition agreement that was


negotiated. But the Forestry thing, that was another thing that came


that was not negotiated. But we now have good procedures in place, we


now have a system that unless something was in our manifest or


the coalition agreement, we will only supported if the parliamentary


party considerate and vote in favour. That is our safeguard for


the country. A colleague -- at colleagues of yours, Andrew George


MP, he says that will allow support the coalition I want to do my best


to save the NHS from what I believe may be a catastrophic train crash


which I believe may take the party with it. Is he representative?


There are people that share his view. Let me get this clear, the


argument over the health reforms is by no means over? It is not over.


We made it clear at our conference in March, and the bill was stopped.


Large numbers of amendments were put in at committee stage and


report stage. It has gone to the House of Lords and there are some


significant things that need to be done, in my view. I believe that


because our Piers are clear about that... Gave me the most


significant change you want to see? We need to tie down the private


work of the NHS, so that they cannot become the dominant or


financial practical activity. It's are you still suspicious of private


activity in the NHS? We have got to make sure it cannot become the


driver of any part of NHS activity. That is very interesting. We will


keep an eye on that in the weeks ahead, when Parliament comes back.


On the broader picture of your party, you lost the AV referendum


in style, voting reform is probably off the agenda for regeneration,


your last 700 seats in local government, you are 11 % in the


opinion polls, less than half what you wear at the election, the


students hate you and the economy is in the tank, what has been the


good news this year? You can lay cat one side of the picture. We had


a difficult six months from November, I know that we handled


tuition fees badly. I was clear about that at the time. And you are


right, the referendum was not a great success. Since then we have


started picking up seats at local government level. One or two. John


Major used to tell me how many local government seats he was


winning and I think he lost by 160 seats. I am trying to compare


before and after. We have been taking up supporters and donors,


and most importantly we have been taking upper mac position in the


opinion polls. I have seen 13 %. -- our position. We need to make sure


that our economy does not go the way of the States and the other


major economies. This city will not see manufacturing on its feet again


if the whole economy is not under control and that is why we have got


to be tough about that. You have heard that there will be an


acceleration of the end it is putting activity back into the


economy. Not a stimulus, and acceleration of existing plans?


Absolutely. Transport infrastructure needs to be brought


forward. As soon as there is the capacity we can do it. Do you think


that this song that you have been singing is representative? We have


a leader who has hung as out to dry. He made us a break air pledge, but


we will stick with him because we loved him, because we love him.


That was nearly a wrap, Andrew. that what date has come to? He hung


a side to dry. The official Lib Dems song book. -- hung us out to


dry. Have you not heard of Satar? We are joined by Nick Robinson. We


have got the speech but we're not allowed to speak about the contents


because it is under embargo. What do you think about it? It is an


argument rather than a series of policy announcements. Does he try


and says here are some new things I am unveiling, does he try and say,


let me give you a vision of where we will be in 2015, to chew you up,


or does he have an argument? I think that is basically what he


will be doing. Without breaking the embargo, the phrase he will be


using his, it is not easy, but it is right. Many people once loved


him, Cleggmania, but the hard decisions were the right decisions.


In a sense, his key argument to the country is that the Government is


fair because Liberal Democrats are at the heart of it. He will say


that is worth keeping. Is this an unusual speech in the sense that


the messages the same for the party faithful in the hall and the wider


audience watching at home. Sometimes they have got to give two


messages? There are parts of the speech that will be significant in


the hall which I suspect will not naked in two television reporter


the newspapers, and in them he will say to his party it is not good


enough to carry on being the opposition. The party was used to


being the opposition for years. There is a danger that he continues


to be the opposition party in government. His message to the


people that think that, is that you can stand up on health, but you


need an agenda for what you positively want to do, not what you


want to stop. The mood of this conference has been quite upbeat.


Is that because you are naturally an optimistic party are totally in


denial? Neither of those things. thought my kit had to be one or the


other. The options before me are not those. It is a serious


conference. It is a serious conference for serious times by a


serious party. Make Robinson made the point, quite rightly, that


we're going to be judged on whether we have delivered and it is a five-


year plan. It will last for the whole of five years. We knew that


the first couple of years would be difficult and we have taken some


heads, but it is no good going back. You have got to keep scoring


Liberal Democrat victories, taking poor people lighted tax, and we


will go on, within the coalition, tilting the Government away from


what it would have been if it was Tory only, to a fairer outcome, so


that we have recovery but it is fair because we are there.


important thing is that what the Liberal-Democrats have done by


coming first is that they have tried to tilted in the other


direction. There will be Conservative MPs at their


conference next week he will say that we do not like that killed


very much. Let's get our own party leadership to bring it back, and


Europe, tax cuts, crime, and this conference may cheer up Liberal-


Democrats but it will also mean that there are Tories that say we


are in for a fight. The good news for the country is that on the key


issues there is an agreement. We need to stick to it. On law and


order and Europe? There is no consensus on that? There is


consensus. Even on stimulus, you seem to be divided. There has been


a very pragmatic view on Europe taken by the Prime Minister. It is


important that the Eurozone survives because we do 40 % of our


business over the water. Ipsos MORI have introduced some new things


from the opinion poll at the weekend. The Liberal Democrats are


now seen as the most divided of the three men -- the three main Lidl --


the three men national parties. This is the legacy of the tuition


fees debate. That has clouded all sorts of things. In the end we


tried to explain that we were not the Government on our own and the


Tories did not agree with us. We could not win that argument


internally. In terms of being divided, the political researchers


have said over the last few years that we are the most united. The


job has to be to make sure that this Government has things that


matter to Liberals and Liberal Democrats. The answer is a fairer


Britain. We have 10 seconds. It is a lot more cheaply than we thought


my cake would be. Let's give them credit. We have to go for the


moment. We will be back at 2:30pm. Not to o'clock, 2:30pm, for live


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