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Afternoon, folks. Welcome to our final Daily Politics conference


special on the Liberal Democrats in Brighton, where all eyes will be on


Nick Clegg. The Lib Dem leader is conference speech just after 3.00pm


to the party faithful, for whom he will have an uncompromising


message: the party needs to grit its teeth and bear it until voters


realise they are doing the right thing. Whether they ever do, of


course, is the dark cloud hanging over this conference. Mr Clegg and


his wife Miriam walked into the conference hall a few minutes ago


on their way from the Grand Hotel, passed the exhibitions where the


parties make all their money at conferences. This is Clegg -- Mrs


Clegg is wearing a dreg by Henrietta Ludgate, a Scottish


designer. The shoes are from Zara, that's only fitting. It is a


Spanish company and she is Spanish. For some reason they haven't


briefed us on where Mr Clegg got his suit. Let's go to the inside of


the hall. There is the Lib Dem faithful gathering for this annual


speech. They've been queuing up outside. Had a quick lufrpblgt some


of them coffee and sandwiches on the way in. It won't -- lunch. Some


of them had coffee and sandwiches on the way in. There's a sense that


the economic policy has yet to work its magic, if it had any magic. As


everybody takes their seats in the hall we'll be talking to two former


leaders, VIPs no less, Paddy Ashdown on the right and Ming


Campbell on the left. And Adam will be talking to Lib Dem plebs - did I


say that? At least I didn't swear. I mean the rank and file of the


party. And I will be prowling the floors of the conference to get


predictions and reaction from conference delegates.


All that in the next couple of hours. And with us for the duration,


two of our favourite pollsters - Ben Page from Ipsos MORI and Peter


Kellner from YouGov. So, if you have any thoughts or comments on


Nick Clegg's speech, you can send them to us at


[email protected] Or tweet your comments using the hashtag


#bbcdp. There was talk of a challenge to Mr


Clegg's leadership on the eve of this conference, but that has


clearly failed to materialise. But there is a sense in which Mr Clegg


is living on borrowed time. His personal and poll ratings are dire


and if they stay that way for another year, his leadership could


well be on the line, especially since there is now a clear


frontrunner to replace him - 69- year-old Vince Cable. The Lib Dems


are in a double bind. Unless the coalition's economic policy starts


to work, the Lib Dems will be in for a hammering. And even if it


does, the Lib Dems might not get the credit. That's between a rock


and a hard place isn't it? Yes, and last week our YouGov poll, where we


measure party leaders' ratings every week, Nick Clegg dipped below


Gordon at his worst. He is the main party, the least popular leader


since Michael Foot. Is there examples from modern times of


someone having poll ratings this bad but coming back? I can't think


of any. One of the problems that third parties like the Lib Dems


seem to get hammered when they go into coalition with a bigger party.


You can see this in European politics all the time. Never say


never but I can't think of one where somebody like Clegg has come


back from the abyss. There's been a sense, Peter Kellner, this week


that Mr Clegg and the party leadership haven't really been


talking to us and the wider public. They've got so many problems of


their own that they are talking to themselves. I think that's right.


Look, I'm rather than -- I rather admire Nick Clegg. He did,


unusually for a politician, put country before country. When I was


in Brighton on Monday, the people I spoke to were either in depression


or denial. That bad? I found very literally optimism. Express


optimism, they to. Nick Clegg says he will go on into the next


election. He has to, or become a lame duck. But I don't think


anybody, the other thing that Nick Clegg will step down before the


next election, or if he leads them, they will get seriously slaughtered.


Should we take seriously or with a large bag of salt the polls which


say if Vince Cable was leader the Lib Dems would be 5% up? I remember


when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister we would ask if Michael


Heseltine was leader or somebody else, the Tories would do much


better, in the late 1980s do. We take them serious stphri They tell


you something that you can only tell when it happens. So often in


recent British political history the person that ends up replacing


the leader is somebody that none of us are talking about at the moment.


You were saying that the message that has come out from this


conference, all this way we used to put them down as sandal-wearing, we


the Lib Dems are now a party of Government and you neat to trade us


seriously. Do you think that's the wrong strategy? I think it is. I


understand why they do it, as they want to be seen as big boys playing


big boys' games. If you think of Lib Dems in marketing terms,


throughout my lifetime they've been a niche product. Imagine if thengs


I don't know, a niche delicatessen on Hampstead high street, the last


thing you would do is compete with Tesco and Sainsbury's. It is a


marketing disaster. You can't compete in that league. In terms of


maximising support in the next election, to maximise support the


last thing you do is say, we are just as good as Labour and the


Tories. You do agree with that or not? The challenge they've got is


to get back the voters who left them and have gone back to Labour.


But the difficulty is, if you have gone back to Labour, at this point,


with Ed Miliband, who has his own problems, will you get them back?


We'll see. A recent poll in the Guardian suggests that the apology


is playing well. The Guardian suggested not. At YouGov we are


finding the same thing. It has not had an effect. We compared it with


Gordon's apology with Bigot-gate and more people think Nick Clegg is


more sincere now than Gordon was then. But his party ratings this


week through the conference, and would expect an uplifrbgts but so


far they are flat lining. -- up lift, but so far they are flat


lining. Let's go to the form leader of the Lib Dems, Paddy Ashdown.


Welcome to the Daily Politics. to be with you Andrew. Two gay old


grizzled heads together. shouldn't speak about yourself and


Peter like that! That's very rude to our guests. You've described


Nick Clegg as the best leader the party's had for 100 years. Why?


Better than me, by the way, that means, which is quite tough for me


to say. I'm a quite little fellow. That isn't difficult. He led the


party into Government, has led it in Government, and that's something


that nobody has done for 100 years. He's done it with unbelievable


grace under fire and he's done a very good job. You are on proper


network television now. extremely good job. Doesn't that


show just how out of touch you are? The polls show 68% think he is


untrustworthy and 75% think he is weak. How long have you been


commentating on politics? About three years. Anything you can do


with opinion polls midterm has no relevance. If you are doing tough


things, and he is, with the party and for the country, you ain't


going to be popular. You know that as well as me. If you remember, and


I'm sure your memory goes back that far, at the first part in the


Thatcher Government she was the most unpopular British Prime


Minister, but she won the next election. Forget it. It is great


fun for you guys to do an opinion poll because it saves you a story,


but one in the middle of the Parliament is completely irrelevant.


Thank you for being rude for a second time to our guests, who are


both pollsters. I love Peter Kellner. I will bring Peter in this


a moment. Who has been the second best leader of your party in 100


years? Who who do you think Andrew Mitchell... I know I'm posh but I'm


not one who swears. I have never accused you of being posh. Who is


the second most popular? Me, Andrew. Is it Lloyd George? By my


arithmetic it takes you to 1912. was a great Prime Minister in the


early days no, doubt about that. Let's get Back To The Future.


get back to the present, if I may. Is Vince Cable the best leader in


waiting? I don't know, because there isn't a leader in waiting. It


is not a question. I know you guys came here wanting to make this a


question and as soon as you found you couldn't you said we are all


miserable. Grimly determined, certainly, but miserable? Not.


this coalition was formed, you were pretty sniffy about the whole idea.


Now you are a big fan. What's changed? I was concerned about it


for about the first two hours, Andrew. Then I saw that NEC's


judgment was absolutely correct. He understood as perhaps some of us


who had fought the old Tory Party hadn't, but that party had changed.


He understood and we have seen it just the depth of the appalling


mess that the last Government left us in. Let me give you two figures.


If we hadn't gone into the coalition, we were carrying then a


debt in Britain equivalent per capita roughly to that of Greece


and Spain. We now have interest rates half of those in Germany. Why


do you think that is? It is because you've got a majority Government


doing tough things. If you hadn't, if we had not done that in the


national interest, your hospitals, your schools, your welfare would


have been slashed far more than they are now but not by accountable


politicians but the marketplace. I didn't want that, the party didn't


want it and we've made sure we evaded on. I would suggest the


interest rates on our bonds are so low is that the Bank of England is


printing money to buy them. You couldn't do that in Europe, which


is where you would have had us if you had your way. You are a fair


man, I don't doubt that quantitative easing is a factor in


that, but if you had a Government almost of any hue, and the only


alternative would have been terrifyingly worse than the present


one, in terms of what's happened to the poor in this country, we would


be in a very much worse situation than we currently are. Look, here


is the point. Nick is I think stig the party, no looking back. He is


dead right to do so. He is saying that our future is inextricably


bound up with that of the country. He is dead right to say so. He is


saying we are one of the three parties of Government, and so we


are. He has said throughout this week that when it comes to taking


the decisions about the scale of the cuts that has to come to


continue to cut the deficit we are determined as Lib Dems to make sure


that we deal with that from the top down, not the bottom up. So just to


clarify, you are in no doubt that Mr Clegg will lead your party into


the next election? No doubt. Alright. What role would you like


to play in the next election? Anything I can that my leader would


like me to do. Do you think you are going to be offered a role in the


next election? And now doubt I will hear that from the leader when he


thinks I should. So you probably will be offered a role in the next


election? No, Andrew, you just heard my answer. When the leader of


my party, who I am devoted for, the best political leader in Britain at


the moment, shown tremendous foresite and determination, when he


wants me to help, I will be on hand to help. When they do that, if they


do that and if I did that, and when they announce that is up to them,


not you and me. I know that. We are just waiting for the announcement.


Could you explain to us, what's In the modern age, it is what you


do in the modern age, the most important part of what you do is


what you do with others. It is the interconnections with nations,


businesses, even between political parties that make you succeed. We


have to get hold of the idea that government is less and less, or


should be less and less, a doer and more and Enabler of networks that


extend beyond governments. It's not quite John F Kennedy, is it? John F


Kennedy was right most of the time. But this is about a new way of


thinking about government. You are interested in that kind of thing.


Have me on the programme later and we will go through it on detail.


I'm not sure we could bear that! What is the third and second?


know me well enough that I was sending myself up ever-so-slightly.


There is no first Ashdown law, no second one. It sounds better if


there is a third one. I will make one or two up for you. Just to help


you along! I have no doubt you will! Peter Kellner would like to


tell you why pollsters matter when there is not an election. Firstly,


what do polls do? They tell you what the public think. I don't


think any politician of any substance, and you are a politician


of substance, you don't really mean it when you say they are worthless.


If you are saying they do not predict the next election, that is


true. If we had subtitles when the politician said I did not take


notice of opinion polls, it should say, I do take notice, but we are


doing badly. You take notice of them, because your party pays to


have them done! We take notice, we look at them. The point about an


opinion poll is that they tell you where you are, not way you're going.


I was careful to say that I do not say they are rubbish sure we are


not paid attention to them. I do say that when looking at a poll,


predicting the outcome of a General Election, which is what has been


going on all week, I agree that they did not predict that outcome.


You and I agree? Thank you. On that point of agreement, I am forced to


bring this to a halt. Agreement is not what we are in the business of.


Go and get your seat and see if you can pick up the first and second


floors. Let's see if you have thought of


them by the end of the programme. One poll has Nick Clegg with the


lowest personal rating of any leader since Michael Foot. That


means it is safe to say that it has not been a great year for him. The


great apology, instantly set to music, was meant to draw a line


under the bad stuff. So far, no sign of that. Here is our look back


There are no easy years when you are in government. We have had to


show real strength in 2011. The next year will be one that poses


many great talent is for everyone. A bill will be brought forward to


reform the composition of the House Members will be aware that the


Government has decided not to proceed with the Lords Reform Bill


during this Parliament. I can confirm that the Government has


I think there is a kind of chemistry. I can see a little bit


There is no easy way to say this. We made a pledge, we did not stick


to it. For that, I am sorry. will fight the 2015 election as Lib


Let's talk about Nick Clegg's year with Kevin Maguire from The Marach


and Quentin Letts from the Daily Mail. A difficult year for Nick


Clegg. What has the atmosphere been like? All of the reports say it has


been downbeat. I'm not sure there has been any atmosphere! It has not


exactly been riveting. It's not really been clear why we have been


here. We might be reaching the point that we have in America,


where they have conventions once every political cycle, rather than


every year. There is no real political need for this conference


to be happening. Dare I ask, have you had a best moment of the week?


I've had a nice time, nice of you to ask. Have I had a best moment,


apart from talking to you? Probably Nick Clegg's Q&A has been the most


interesting moment. He himself remains the key person in his party.


But he is the person way over to the right of the rest of the party.


The Lib Dems as a whole still feel a very left-wing collection of


people, in government with the Tories, rather against their


instincts. Kevin Maguire, you can think about your best moment of the


week. Who has made the best speech? Actually, I will tell you my best


moments straight away. It was actually seeing Vince Clegg


sprinting in the rain... Vince Cable, sorry! He is not too old for


the leadership. He had a fair pace on him, when I saw him. It has been


very flat. I think there will be more people here next week for the


Tesco Wine Show. If you look at the speeches, a lot of them have been


flat. They had a good debate on secret justice, justice is


listening to security evidence in private, rather than public. Paddy


Ashdown, when we were listening to him in earlier, having his banter


with Andrew, the big announcement is going to be that Paddy Ashdown


is going to render Liberal Democrat election campaign in 2015. That


sums up what the week has been about. It's all about Nick Clegg


talking to his party, because he knows the country is not listening.


He needs his party behind him before he can speak to the


electorate. Thank you for revealing that! In terms of the speech, now


it has been brought up. How does he win over his troops? I don't think


he really makes that much effort. He's just telling them, we are


going to continue as before. We are in the middle of a parliament, you


cannot get rid of me, we cannot get rid of the coalition, we have to do


this for the national interest. It is somebody in the middle of a


dental operation, they do not try to change the prognosis. You just


have to stay there and take the pain. That is what his message is


going to be. With all of that pain, has anything got Lib Dems smiling


this week? No. Other than what has been happening to Andrew Mitchell,


the Great Gate-Gate and plebs. They are in coalition with the


Conservatives, I think in Nick Clegg's speech he will attack


Labour Accra more than his coalition partners. They have all


felt here a sense of social superiority to the Tories by saying


that we are not snobbish and sneering like a Arc. We do not see


the electorate as pleb us. They will try to say everything that is


good about the coalition was Liberal Democrat and everything


that was Tory. Andrew Mitchell plays that brilliantly. Is there a


danger of pushing Tory bashing too far? I don't think so. There has


been a bit of childish comment from some delegates. On the whole, it


doesn't amount to more than a bit of name-calling. Mr Clegg is quite


a serene presence, he seems a bit spaced out and he doesn't seem too


concerned about poll ratings. You could argue it means he will be in


more danger. Perhaps he is not counting on being a big figure in


British politics after 2015. What about this identity crisis? Nick


Clegg to the right, the rest of the party to the left? Is that how you


characterise it? You can see the divide opening up between the


Liberals, Nick Clegg and David Laws. The Democrats, Vince Cable and


Others. I think all parties are coalitions in themselves, the same


with Labour and the Conservatives. You are beginning to see that


opening up in the Liberal Democrat party. He's going to find it harder


and harder to keep that together. This conference has been flat. It's


not been brilliant. Maybe he gets away with it this year. You might


get away with it next year. If you get to 2014 and they are still


struggling in the polls, it looks like he is going to be sending his


MPs over the top to be mown down at the General Election, it's going to


get really interesting. There must interesting debate was probably


about assisted dying. In 2014 it may not be assisted, it might be


more violent! On that happy, jovial They will not know about Miriam's


dress. It split the news room. what side are you on? I have no


views on that, as you know. They are very fashion savvy, the Daily


Politics team. Are they?! Oh, yes, they are. Let's get a sense of the


It as traditional as the leader's speech itself, milling around


outside the auditorium waiting for it to start. Let's speak to some of


the delegates that Ikea. Who have we got here, what kind of we


Khadija had? A good week. I think Nick has had a difficult week, but


I'm looking forward to it now. do you want to hear from him?


want him to stand up for what Liberal Democrats stand up for. He


has to say that we are going to stick to our policies, not be


wishy-washy. Where are you from? Cheltenham. What are you going to


be listening for? I want to hear him saying that we are going to


carry on steady, carried out on the course we have set in coalition.


Stick to our guns. We will go and speak to some odd delegates. Excuse


me, you are wrong at the Daily Politics Conference Special. -- You


on the Daily Politics Conference Special. He's going to say you have


to go back to your constituencies and prepare to be shouted at. What


do you feel about that? We are used to being shouted at, we are Liberal


Democrats. The mood has been upbeat. I'm lucky for it to hearing what he


has to say. As it really been that upbeat? The atmosphere has not been


great. It depends what you mean. We are a debating party. For us, being


upbeat means getting our policies across, it's not a stage-managed


thing like the other parties where they do not actually say anything.


Let's talk to some odd delegates around here. What is your name?


Harry, from Haringey. Nick Clegg will say that you cannot be a party


of protest anymore, you have to be serious about being a party in


government, what do you think about that? It resonates, we have been a


party for decades not saying anything, really. Now we have the


Deputy Prime Minister in this government. It doesn't mean we


always get our way. Obviously he is not the Prime Minister, this is not


a Liberal Democrat government. But showing the public and the party


that we are growing into the role of government in a adult way, that


we were not 10 years ago, it is quite an important thing. We have


to convince the country that we are not just a junior coalition party,


but a party capable of taking on the responsibilities of government.


He has to convince the activists. other going to enjoy that?


Obviously, we do not enjoy all that. Even the most hardcore activist,


who remember the days that we can say whatever we wanted without


having to pass it through David Cameron, even they accept the need


to show that we are serious about being in government. At see if we


can find some female activists. What is your name and where right


you from? I am Hannah, from Stoke- on-Trent. Is this a tricky speech


for Nick Clegg? I think it will be a positive message about the Lib


Dems coming-out. I think it will define. That is the positive side.


Do you hope he is going to do so means that about the Tories? No, I


don't think that is helpful. A lot of activists would want him to, but


I don't think it is very helpful. Thank you very much. Let's go and


talk to these guys. How key a moment is this for Nick Clegg?


are halfway through the parliament, people are beginning to see There


is a bit of a slog until the General Election. What we have to


do is get our message across to people and show that we are not


squabbling lefties, worried about peripheral issues. There is serious


business to be done and we are the guys to do it. There has been some


talk about challenges, not very concrete. Are you going to watch


Vince Cable's reactions? Everybody will be watching for reactions. But


I don't think there will be any leadership challenges. We need to


support the party leader in everything he tries to do. He is


going to talk about how you have to be serious about being in


government, not just a protest party. How do you feel about that?


Lots of us have a lot of concerns about what has happened nationally


and in government. But we cannot achieve everything in only part of


government, and we have to be serious about what we can get out


of it. Somebody wants to have the last word. Would you like to have


the last word on the Daily Politics Conference Special before the


speech starts? Do you think we added to get some pleb jokes?


should hope so. It will go down very well with the security guards.


You are in the mood for Tory passion? Absolutely. We will let


you get a good seat in the auditorium. That is a taste of some


of the views here at the Lib Dem Thank you Adam. If Mr Clegg is on


time he will be on his feet in about five minutes. Tim Farron, the


party President we interviewed this morning, has been speaking to


conference. And they've been handing out awards. Someone got an


award for a best press release drafter for an opposition County


Council. I wanted to win that award. Nick Robinson is in Brighton. Nick,


is Mr Clegg going to tell the party faithful in Brighton anything that


they don't already know? This one thing, Andrew, I think. He is


basically going to say to them, in a version of the old football song,


people don't like us but we don't care. In other words, saying to


them, look, our unpopularity is what comes with moving on the


journey, he will describe, from being a party of opposition to a


party of government. He will try to say to them you can't have all that


stuff back that you like so much. You can't go back to the past


before the deal with the Tories, before the compromises, yes, before


the broken promise for which he had to say sorry. The only way forward


is a future that the Lib Dems can say they are one of the three


parties of government. Do you think the Lib Dem activists have ever


thought of themselves as Millwall supporters? Let's see if they chant


today. No, but what they have thought themselves, Andrew, and


that is why the metaphor came to mind, they are used to being liked.


I think what Nick Clegg's message to them is, you are always liked


when frankly you are irrelevant. When you matter, when you're


powerful, when you take decisions, then people have a reason to hate


you. He is not going to use this language, let me stress, there


won't be a Millwall chant, but what his broad message is, this is how


it was going to be if we were ever going to get from being a party of


opposition to a party of government, so embrace it, move on and try to


stay a party of government. Your first question implied, would he


say anything new? On policy, they won't. He regards this as a


conversation with the party on how they are changing, and with the


country it is hoped how lit change, not a time to release policy. We


saw one this morning, a premium for kids who are struggling when they


left primary school, a �500 premium to help them into secondary school.


All speeches at these events, they have to address the party faithful


and through television they have to speak to the wider public. But in


your view, will this speech be more directed towards the party faithful


than to the rest of us, the voters? I think it is to this extent. Nick


Clegg came to this conference very well aware that many of his own


activists feared that they were electorally doomed. That they were


in a car racing at 100 miles per hour for an electoral brick wall


and there is no way they could get the driver out of the driving seat


and they had to live with it. He is trying to tackle that fatalism, if


you like. He is trying to say, that is wrong, that is to look at it in


the wrong way, that if this Government can turn round the


economy, if as he claims the Lib Dems can do it in a way that is


fair, then even though the polls don't show it, even though he is


unpopular, and many people predict electoral doom for them, they can


turn it round. You are right, first and foremost it is for them. But


there are long passages in this speech, where they are looking at


the world, basically saying that Britain faces a unique set of


challenges, not just the ones we know about, the eurozone crisis,


the collapse of the banks and the like, but the rise of the East and


the ageing population, and creating a new economy, as he will refer to


it from the ashes of an old one could prove difficult. Do Mr


Clegg's people fear even if the economy starts to turn around, I


know they can't use the phrase, even if the green shoots, if there


are green shoots and they grow into something bigger, are they not


afraid even if that happens they might not get the credit for it? Sn


that the Conservatives will sweep up all the credit. Sure, I'm sure


they are afraid, Andrew, but you can only deal with one fear at once.


Worrying about electoral o believe onprobably comes first, I would


have thought. My sense is, what they are trying to do here is deal


with that sense that there is no way out. Of course they know that's


an anxiety. When you talk to a lot of Lib Dems behind the scenes


there's a degree of relief here that there wasn't from a few months


ago. It is for a reason that hasn't been talked about at this


conference, it's the ends of proposals for boundary changes.


Most people thought they were bad news for the Conservatives. David


Cameron said it would be fairer if there were the same number of


voters in every seat. Would have given a real boost to his party in


the legislation. But Lib Dems do best where they have had the same


MP for years. It is call to do so incumbency effect. But the fear was


if the boundaries changed and the electors didn't know them, they


would be vulnerable. Many now feel that if they are in a seat where


they face the Conservatives, many will say you still prefer us to the


Tories, keep us in. I want to dip into the hall to see how things are


building up. They are correcting money. Money is always important


for parties. The Lib Dems are no different from anybody else in that.


They are raising money now, passing around the bucket, the men and


women in their Yellow Shirts. Peter, you are listening to Nick and you


were saying to me that you think Mr Clegg clearly lives to fight


another day. There's been no leadership talk of any importance


at this conference. There may not even be next year, but you were


saying that the summer of 2014 could be a dangerous time for the


Liberal leader? I think that's right. And why? Because in that


months, 11 months before the general election, we have the


European Parliament elections. These are strange things. They are


proportional elections. Last time, 2009, the Lib Dems came fourth.


Conservatives, UKIP, larks then the Lib Dems. They got -- Labour, and


then the Lib Dems. The way they are at the moment I wouldn't be


surprised if they ended up fifth, behind the Greens. Instead of just


about winning short in every region they fall short, so instead of


having a dozen euro MPs they go down to three or four. Think about


the politics of the party in those circumstances. We've got less than


a year to go until the general election, we have been thrashed.


The public clearly don't like us. It is not merely uppity folk like


Ben Page and I looking at polling numbers. This is millions of votes


around the country. That says that we need to pull out of the


coalition, that summer they will put pressure on Nick Clegg to stand


down and get a new leader for that party conference in September.


think they will be like the Labour Party of Gordon. Lots of them


thought about it but at the last mint they couldn't bring themselves.


Wait and see. Nick, no leadership challenge at this conference,


although there had been speculation there might be. Have you had the


sense if there was to be a leadership challenge, because


things aren't getting better, because they get a terrible kicking


in the European elections, am I right in thinking that it is quite


clear that Mr Cable is now the clear Ayr apparent, the


frontrunner? Yes -- heir apparent, the frontrunner? Yes, and looking


ahead to 2014, if Peter is right and the elections are that dire for


the Lib Dems, there is another possibility in the air, that the


Labour Party and Ed Miliband win. Could Nick Clegg possibly do a deal


with him? After all, he's been living in this marriage with David


Cameron for so long. Some Lib Dems would say, let's get a Labour-


facing leader, and Vince Cable is man to wield the knife? I've been


talking to a lot of senior Lib Dem here and they don't believe he is.


In order he is a man who wants to be there and seen to be there if


people come calling but is not willing to stage a coup and shows


no sign of doing it. If Nick Clegg shows, as he is trying to at this


conference niche speech, a determination to ballot on come


what may, he will be pretty difficult to get rid of.


The wise old men, Nick say it would be difficult to get rid of Nick


Clegg but the party has shown some met until getting rid of leaders.


True. Some Tories say to me they want to encourage Vince Cable for


the interesting reason they think Vince Cable would be more likely to


attract back essentially long-time Labour voters who had voted Lib Dem,


gone back to Labour but may be more inclined to go back to the Lib Dems


if Vince Cable was leading them? That is possible. Where the third-


placed Labour votes switchs to the Lib Dems, they need to get that


back to the Lib Dems. Incidents lyrics I'm not sure there'll be a


coup. I think what will happen, it will happen behind closed doors,


Nick Clegg will be persuaded to stand aside and to seek his future


in Europe or the United Nations or whatever. Or Spanish politics.


it was blood on the carpet I suspect it would be Dev


statementing for them. It has to be a smooth transfer and Nick Clegg


will have to play his path. If he is genuinely determined to stay on,


he will be hard to get rid of. a pretty big if, Andrew. One thing


we do know is that things rarely go to schedule at Lib Dems conferences.


They haven't even started the video yet, which is going to precede Mr


Clegg's speech. We are told he is going to speak for about 45 minutes


and have some quite harsh words, harsh is maybe not the right word,


but straight-talking words to his party faithful, that they are in


what they are in and there is no way of getting out of it is. There


a sense of fatalism that they are where they are, the die is cast,


they can't do a runner, they are going to hope the coalition


economic policies go right and live with the consequences? That is a


very good sum-up of what's here. People have come to these


conference as couple of years running and saying maybe there is a


leadership challenge, anger on the floor. There hasn't been. Yes


there's been concern. Yes you can find people who say, I wish we


weren't in bed with the Tories, but there isn't that spirit of


rebellion. Anybody who is really angry isn't here. They've left,


resigned, they want nothing to do with this party. That is probably


why their vote that dramatically halved the way it has, but it means


the party is more united. It reflects on the what if about a


leadership challenge. When Ming Campbell was moved as leader it was


partly because the next generation, the young people in the Lib Dems,


young shadow Ministers, said, "Our future is not with Ming." You look


around the people now in the Lib Dems, it is hard to see prominent


allies of Vince Cable. I see a lot of people like the David Laws and


the Jeremy Brownes and others who are clear allies and have been put


there for that reason. Interesting that Paddy Ashdown is coming to the


foreagain. That is saying to the party, look, you might not like me


but you love Paddy. He is on board. Ming Campbell is clearly on board


for the Clegg project. There would have to be a mass collective sense


of doom I think for them to go to Nick Clegg and ask him to go. As


well as a sense that they all knew who would replace him. What we've


always discovered in politics, and that is what kept Gordon in his


place, they can all agree it is a disaster but not what's next.


Kellner? This point about Paddy Ashdown, if he is going to lead the


election campaign, that is interesting. Paddy Ashdown was not


only an effective leader, a popular leader, which led to its


breakthrough in 1997 when its doubled the number of MPs. But


Paddy was the man who led the pro- Labour argument inside the Lib Dem


leadership. Paddy wanted to see if it was possible to do a deal with


Gordon or another Labour leader. It wasn't possible and Paddy accepted


that it wasn't, but Paddy is with Vince Cable on the progressive


realignment side of the Lib Dems rather than the straight down the


middle let's talk to the right side that Nick Clegg is in. So putting


Paddy in to the leadership means that if Nick Clegg does lead them


into the next legislation he is bolting in an important part of the


Labour-inclined faction into that Had there been signs in which the


activist in particular are positioning themselves to say, if


we have to go into coalition next time, can we make it the Labour


Party? Let's make it a position to be in bed with them instead? Every


aspect of this conference has been advertising differences with the


Tories that make the Lib Dems look more like a party of the Left,


whether it is the environment, mocking the Tories were saying you


can vote blue and go green, fairness, wealth taxes or helping


the poor. But this conference debated the central issue in


British politics, the economy. And Vince Cable, the man of the left,


who we are told wants to get in bed with the Labour Party, secretly,


stood up and said he had personal sympathy for George Osborne, stay


to the course. There we can see Nick Clegg going to the podium,


taking the applause of the party faithful as he begins his address


to the Liberal Democrat Party conference. The Deputy Prime


Minister, Nick Clegg, leader of the Colleagues, this summer, as we


cheer our athletes to gold, after gold, after gold, Britain


remembered how it feels to win again. But, more importantly, we


remembered what it takes to win again. Whether from Jess Ennis, Mo


Farah or, Sarah Storey or David Weir, the message was the same. We


may be the ones on the podium, but behind each of us stands at coach.


Behind the coach stands 18. Behind the team, the organisers, the


volunteers, the supporters. Behind them, a whole city, an entire


country. The UK nations, united behind one goal. What a contrast


from a year ago. When England's cities burned in a week of riots.


When the images beamed to the world would not of athletes running for


the finishing line, but the mob, running at police officers. When


the flames climbed, not from the Olympic torch in east London, but a


furniture shop in south London. A 140-year-old, family run business


which survived two world wars and countless recessions, raised to the


ground. Of course, even then, amid the smoke and embers, we saw our


country's true character when residents came out onto the streets


to clear up the mess. And we saw it again this summer, when the Reeves


furniture shop in Croydon reopened in new premises, the walls decked


with photos of young people holding up messages of hope. Who put those


pictures up? Young volunteers from Croydon and and 81-year-old man


called Maurice Reeves. Like three generations before him, he ran the


shop before handing it over to his son. Maurice, your example should


You see, what Maurice has shown, what our Olympians and Paralympians


have reminded us is that, for most people, success does not come easy


or quick. That is what our culture of instant celebrity obscures. That


real achievement, in the real world, takes time, effort, perseverance


and resilience. The war veteran, a victim of a roadside bomb in


Afghanistan, competing at the Paralympics. The businessman, a


victim of an arson attack in south London, serving his customers again.


The millions of people up and down the country who, no matter how


heroic or mundane their battles, keep going, keep trying, keep


working, whatever life throws at them. These are the qualities that


will see our country through these tough times. These are the


qualities that will guide our party through tough times as well. So,


let's take our example from the British people, as, together, we


embark on the journey ahead. Our party, from the comforts of


opposition, to the hard reality of government. Our country, from the


sacrifice is a war austerity to the rewards of shared prosperity. Two


journeys, linked. The success of each, depending on the success of


the other. Neither will be easy and neither will be quicker. But it


will be worth it. And be in no doubt, if we secure our country's


As a politician, you get used to receiving criticism and praise from


the strangest quarters. But even I was taken a little by surprise by


the fulsome backing a received on the comment pages of the Daily


Telegraph on Monday. The article praised my judgment, my policies,


Marian, of course. And then I saw who it was by. A certain Alexander


Boris Johnson. At least he has found one party leader he is


Colleagues, we live in a time of profound change. Almost


revolutionary in its pace and scale. Here in Britain, we are faced with


a gargantuan task of building a new economy from the rubble of the old.


We are doing so at a time when our main export market, the eurozone,


is facing its biggest crisis since it was formed. While the European


economy has stalled, countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, India and


China continue to grow, and at a phenomenal rate. The potential


consequences of this shift in power, should we in the West failed to


respond, cannot, in my view, be overstated. Our influence in the


world, our standard of living, our ability to fund our public services


and maintain our culture of openness and tolerance. All are in


the balance. Power would move, not only away from the liberal and


democratic world, but we did it, too. From moderates to hardliners.


From international this too isolationist. From those committed


to the politics of co-operation to those hell-bent on confrontation.


If history has taught us anything, it is that the extremists thrive in


tough times. Yes, if we fail to deal with our debts and tackle the


weaknesses in our economy, our country will pay a heavy political


price. But the human cost would be higher still. Not only would we


fall behind internationally, we would leave a trail of victims at


home as well. So, to those who ask, incredulously, what we, the Liberal


Democrats, are doing cutting public spending, I simply say this. Who


suffers most when governments go bust? When they can no longer pay


salaries, benefits and pensions? Not the bankers and the hedge fund


managers, that is for sure. No, it would be de Paul, the old, the


infirm, those with police to fall back on. -- the poor. Labour might


have thought it was funny, after crashing the economy and racking up


record debts, to leave a note on David Bowles' desk, saying there is


no money left. But it is no joke for the most vulnerable in our


society, the people that Labour claim to represent, but let down


the most. Let's take no more lectures about betrayal. It was


Labour who plunged us into austerity and it is we, the Liberal


You know, it is easy to forget sometimes that the debate we are


having in this country is actually playing out across our continent.


It is a debate between those who understand how much the world has


changed and those who don't. Between those who understand the


need to adapt to those changes and those who balk at the size of the


challenge. The fate of every European country, ours included,


will depend on the outcome. In the coming years, some countries will


get their own house in order. But some will mark. Those that do will


continue to write their own budgets, set their own priorities and to


shape their own futures. Those that do not will find their right to


self-determination withdrawn by the markets and new rules imposed by


their creditors without warning or clemency. That it will never happen


to us is just blithely assumed. The comparisons with Greece, breezily


dismissed. Yet it is the decisions we take, and as a government, as a


party, that will determine whether we succeed or fail. For the first


time, the future is ours. Hours to Now, hour journey from austerity to


prosperity starts, of course, with economic rescue. Dealing with our


debts and delivering growth. If you listen to Labour, you can be


forgiven for thinking that austerity is a choice, that the


sacrifices it involves can be avoided. If we only had acted Ed


Balls's latest press release, we would be instantly transported to


that fantasy world where there is no boom-and-bust and the money


never runs out. But the truth is this. There is no silver bullet


that will instantly solve all of our economic problems. Some of our


problems are structural. Others, international. All will take time


to overcome. We are dealing with an ongoing surge in global energy,


food and commodity prices. And extends to ensure crisis in the


eurozone. A banking collapse that, more than four years on, is still


blocking the arteries of our entire economic system. Against these


forces, the idea that if government deregulated a bit more, as Lin Fox


proposes, or borrowed and spent a bit more, like Ed Balls proposes,


that we would, at a stroke, achieve long and lasting growth is just not


credible. In my experience, if you are being attacked by Liam Fox from


one side and Ed Balls from the other, you are in the right place,


You see, what is needed, and what we are delivering, is a plan that


is tough enough to keep the bond markets of our backs. Yet, flexible


enough to support demand. A plan that allowed us, when the forecast


worsened last year, to reject calls for further spending cuts or tax


rises and balance the budget over a longer timescale. A plan that, even


at the end of this Parliament, will see public spending account for 42%


of GDP. Higher than at any point between 1995 and 2008, when the


banks collapsed. A plan that, because it commands the confidence


of the markets, has given those room to create a business bank,


provide billions of pounds of infrastructure and housebuilding


guarantees and and �80 billion Funding for Lending scheme, the


biggest of its kind anywhere in the world. Of course, so much of this


is about perception. People keep telling me we should be doing what


Barack Obama did with his fiscal stimulus. What they do not tell you


is that much of what the President had to legislate for we are already


doing automatically. So, let's not allow the caricature of what we are


doing to go unchallenged. If Plan A really was as rigid and dogmatic as


our critics claim, I would be demanding a Plan B and getting


Danny and Vincent to design it. But it isn't. Which is why you were


right, earlier this week, to overwhelmingly reject the call for


us to change our economic course. We have taken big and bold steps to


support demand and boost growth. And we stand ready to do so, again,


again and again until self- APPLAUSE


Of course, arguments about economic theory are of no interest to the


millions of people just struggling to get by right now. The home-help


whose earnings barely cover the cost of childcare. The builder who


knows the company will be laying people off, but doesn't yet know if


he'll be one of them. The couple who want to buy their first home


but can't raise the money for a deposit. To them and to all the


other hard working families just trying to stay afloat, I say this:


the Liberal Democrats are on your side. You are the ones we are in


Government to serve. Not with empty rhetoric but real practical help.


That is why we promised to cut your income tax bills by raising the


personal allowance to �10,000. So you can keep more of the money you


have worked for. So your effort will be properly rewarded. So the


task of making ends meet is made that little bit easier. At the last


Budget, we made two big announcements: that we were


spending �3,000 million increasing the tax-free allowance, and just


�50 million reducing the top rate of tax while recouping five times


that amount in additional taxes on the wealthiest. I insisted on the


first. I conceded the second. But I stand by the package as a whole.


Why? Because as Liberals, we want to see the tax on work reduced, the


tax on unearned wealth increased, and the system as a whole tilted in


favour of those on low and middle incomes. The Budget delivered all


three. But let me make one thing clear: Now that we have brought the


top rate of tax down to 45p - a level, let's not forget, that is


still higher than throughout Labour's 13 years in office - there


can be no question of reducing it further in this Parliament.


All future cuts in personal taxation must pass one clear test:


do they help people on low and middle incomes get by and get on?


It's as simple as that. At the next election, all parties will have to


acknowledge the need for further belt tightening. That much is


inescapable. But the key question we will all have to answer is who


will have to tighten their belts the most? Our position is clear. If


we have to ask people to take less out or pay more in, we'll start


with the richest and work our way down, not the other way around. We


won't waver in our determination to deal with our debts. But we will do


it in our own way, according to our own plans, based on our own values.


So we will not tether ourselves to detailed spending plans with the


Conservatives through the next Parliament. Colleagues, we should


be proud of the fact we have delivered fairer taxes in tough


times. We should be proud of the fact that we're taking 2 million


people out of income tax altogether and delivering a �700 tax cut for


more than 20 million others, and should never miss an opportunity to


tell people about it. But as we do so, remember this: our tax cuts,


like our extra support for childcare, for schools, for


pensioners - these are not stand- alone consumer offers. They are


part of a broader agenda of economic and social reform to


reward work, enhance social mobility and secure Britain's


position in a fast changing world. In short, national renewal. That is


our mission. Our policies either serve that purpose, or they serve


One of the things about governing is it forces you to confront the


inconvenient truths oppositions choose to ignore. Like the fact


that, over the last 50 years, our economy has grown threefold, but


our welfare spending is up sevenfold. Or the fact that, to


sustain our spending, we are still borrowing �1 billion every three


days. Or that, as a result of that borrowing, we now spend more


servicing the national debt than we do on our schools. In combination,


these three facts present us with a fundamental challenge: to not only


regain control of public spending, but to completely redirect it so


that it promotes, rather than undermines, prosperity. How we do


that - how we reshape the British state for the economic challenges


of the 21st century - is a debate I want our party to lead. For there


are only two ways of doing politics: by following opinion, to


get yourself on the populist side of each issue, or by leading


opinion, and standing on the future side of each issue. The first


brings short-term rewards, of course it does. But the big prizes


are for those with the courage and vision to get out in front, set the


agenda and point the way. So let us take the lead in building a new


economy for the new century. An open, outward-looking economy in


the world's biggest single market. A strong, balanced economy built on


productive investment, not debt- fuelled consumption. An innovative,


inventive economy driven by advances in science and research.


And yes, a clean, green economy too, powered by the new low-carbon


technologies. Britain leading the But I have to tell you, we will not


succeed in this last task unless we can see off that most short-sighted


of arguments: that we have to choose between going green and


going for growth. Decarbonising our economy isn't just the right thing


to do, it's a fantastic economic opportunity. The green economy in


Britain is growing strongly right now, bringing in billions of pounds


and creating thousands of jobs - in wind, solar and tidal energy; the


technologies that will power our economy in the decades to come.


Going green means going for growth. But more than that, it means going


for more energy that we produce ourselves and which never runs out;


it means going for clear air and clean water and a planet we can


proudly hand over to our children. Going green means going forward. So


let the Conservatives be in no doubt. We will hold them to their


promises on the environment. APPLAUSE


Of course, there was a time when it looked like they got it. It seems a


long time ago now. When the Tories were going through their naturalist


phase. The windmills gently turning, the sun shining in. As a PR


exercise, it was actually quite brilliant. Until, at last year's


party conference, they went and ruined it all, admitting that you


can't in fact "vote blue and go green". Well of course you can't.


To make blue go green you have to add yellow, and that's exactly what


we're doing. APPLAUSE I thought you would groan rather


than clap at that one. What's a generous audience.


As we plot our path from austerity to prosperity, we need to remember


that nothing we do will make a decisive difference if we don't


make the most important investment of all: in the education and


training of our young people. For we will only fulfil our collective


economic potential, if we fulfil our individual human potential. Yet


the legacy of educational inequality in Britain is an economy


operating at half power, with far too many young people never getting


the qualifications they could get, never doing the jobs they could do,


never earning the wages they could earn. The true cost of this cannot


be counted in pounds and pence. Yes it's a huge drag on our economy,


but more than that, it is an affront to natural justice and to


everything we Liberal Democrats stand for. Because if you strip


away all the outer layers to expose this party's philosophical core,


what do you find? An unshakeable belief in freedom. Not the tinny


sound of the libertarian's freedom - still less the dead thud of the


Socialist's - but the rich sound of Liberal freedom, amplified and


sustained by the thing that gives it real meaning: opportunity. The


freedom to be who you are. APPLAUSE The opportunity to be who you could


be. That, in essence, is the Liberal promise. And that is why


this party has always been - and must always be - the party of


education. Because just as there can be no real freedom without


opportunity, so there can be no real opportunity without education.


Every parent knows how it feels when you leave your child on their


first day at school. That last look they give you before the door


closes behind them. The instinct to go with them, to protect them, to


help them every step of the way. That's how we should feel about


every child. That's the responsibility we have to every


parent. To support them at every stage: from nursery to primary,


from primary to secondary and from secondary to college, university or


work. That's why we're providing more money so the poorest two-year-


olds, as well as every three and four-year-old, can now benefit from


pre-school education. Delivering our Pupil Premium - �900 per child


next year - so the most disadvantaged children get the more


intensive, more personalised support they need. And why, when


they leave school, we're providing scholarships, bursaries, grants,


loans, apprenticeships and wage subsidies, to help them go on


learning or start earning. But extra resources won't make a


difference unless matched by greater ambition. Which is why


money must be accompanied by reform. Reform to ensure all children can


read and write. To make schools focus on the performance of every


child. To turn around failing schools, and put more pressure on


coasting schools. And yes, reform to replace GCSEs, not with an O


Level, but with a new more rigorous qualification that virtually every


child will be able to take, and every well taught child will be


able to pass. And to ensure they do, I can announce that from this year,


we will provide a new 'catch-up premium' - an additional �500 for


every child who leaves primary school below the expected level in


English or maths. APPLAUSE If you're a parent whose child has


fallen behind, who fears they might get lost in that daunting leap from


primary to secondary school; and who is worried by talk about making


exams tougher, let me reassure you. We will do whatever it takes to


make sure your child is not left behind. A place in a summer school;


catch-up classes; one-to-one tuition; we are providing the help


they need. So yes, we're raising the bar. But we're ensuring every


I am proud of the resolve we Liberal Democrats have shown over


the last two and a half years. We've had some real disappointments.


Tough election results, a bruising referendum. My song, not making it


into the top 10... But through it all, we have remained focused,


determined, disciplined. It hasn't always been easy, and, when we've


made mistakes, we've put our hands up. But we've stuck to our task and


to the Coalition Agreement even as others have wavered. The received


wisdom, prior to the election, was that we wouldn't be capable of


making the transition from opposition to government. The


choices would be too sharp, the decisions too hard. The Liberal


Democrats, it was said, are a party of protest, not power. Well, two


years on, the critics have been confounded. Our mettle has been


tested in the toughest of circumstances, and we haven't been


found wanting. We have taken the difficult decisions to reduce the


deficit by a quarter and have laid the foundations for a stronger,


more balanced economy capable of delivering real and lasting growth.


But, conference, our task is far from complete, our party's journey


far from over. I know that there are some in the party, some in this


hall even, who, faced with several more years of spending restraint,


would rather turn back than press on. Break our deal with the


Conservatives, give up on the Coalition, and present ourselves to


the electorate in 2015 as a party unchanged. It's an alluring


prospect in some ways. Gone would be the difficult choices, the hard


decisions, the necessary compromises. And gone too would be


the vitriol and abuse, from Right and Left, as we work every day to


keep this Government anchored in the centre ground. But, conference,


I tell you this. The choice between the party we were, and the party we


are becoming, is a false one. The past is gone and it isn't coming


back. If voters want a party of opposition, a "stop the world I


want to get off" party they've got plenty of options, but we are not


one of them. There's a better, more Not as the third party, but as one


There's been a lot of discussion on the fringe of this conference about


our party's next steps, about our relationship with the other parties


and about what we should do in the event of another hung parliament.


It's the sort of discussion politicians love. Full of


speculation and rumour. But I have to tell you, it is all based on a


false, and deeply illiberal, assumption. That it is we, rather


than the people, who get to decide. In a democracy, politicians take


So let's forget all the Westminster gossip and focus on what really


matters. Not our relationship with the other parties, but our


relationship with the British people. Imagine yourself standing


on the doorstep in 2015 talking to someone who hasn't decided who to


vote for. This is what you'll be able to say, we cut taxes for


ordinary families and made sure the wealthiest paid their fair share.


We put more money into schools to give every child a chance. We did


everything possible to get people into work - millions of new jobs


and more apprenticeships than ever before. And we did the right thing


by our older people too - the biggest ever cash rise in the state


pension. But most importantly, we brought our country back from the


Then ask them, are you ready to trust Labour with your money again?


And do you really think the Tories will make Britain fairer? Because


the truth is, only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted on the


economy and relied upon to deliver And to help get that message out


there, I can announce today that Paddy Ashdown has agreed to front


up our campaign as chair of the He's pretending he doesn't like the


limelight. He loves it, come on. I must admit, I'm not quite sure I'm


ready for all those urgent e-mails and 5am phone calls. But I can't


think of anyone I'd rather have by my side. Paddy, it's great to have


50, 60 years ago, before I was born, small groups of Liberal activists


would meet up to talk politics and plan their campaigns. Stubborn and


principled, they ignored the cynics who mocked them. They simply


refused to give up on their dreams. They refused to accept that


Liberals would never again be in government. And they refused to


accept that Liberalism, that most decent, enlightened and British of


creeds, which did so much to shape our past, would not shape our


We think we've got it tough now. But it was much, much tougher in


their day. It was only their resolve, their resilience and their


unwavering determination that kept the flickering flame of Liberalism


alive through our party's darkest At our last conference in Gateshead,


I urged you to stop looking in the rear view mirror as we journey from


the party of opposition that we were, to the party of government we


are becoming. But before we head off on the next stage of our


journey, I want you to take one last look in that mirror to see how


far we've come. I tell you what I see. I see generations of Liberals


marching towards the sound of gunfire. And yes, I see them going


back to their constituencies to It took us a while but we got there


These are the people on whose shoulders we stand. They never


flinched, and nor should we. We owe it to them to seize the opportunity


they gave us, but which they never had. Taking on the vested interests.


Refusing to be bullied. Refusing to give up. Always overturning the


odds. Fighting for what we believe in, because we know that nothing


worthwhile can be won without a battle. A fair, free and open


society. That's the prize. So let's Mr Clegg's speech comes Townend.


Everybody gets to their feet, including his wife, Miriam. Shorter


than many parties beaches. We had been told to expect 45 minutes. No


doubt be unkind would say that is because he never got the pause he


expected. A pretty low-key speech. At points, it sounded more like a


lecture than a party conference speech. Constant theme, whether it


was the Olympics, the Liberals at a time when they only had six MPs and


could all get in the same taxi, it was that to get things right takes


time. The idea is that you resonate today that they cannot turn around


the economy in two and-a-half years, they have to stick with it because


they are on the right to path, as he claimed, and that it will come


right and they will be vindicated. Indeed, he said the party's future


is tied to the country. If things come right for the country, they


will come right for the party. In history, that hasn't always been


true, as Winston Churchill discovered in 1945. There were


attacks on Labour and the Tories. But they only really on the Tories


about whether they were sticking to their green credentials or not. He


claimed that the Lib Dems, in coalition, had brought the economy


back from the brink. And that is what mattered more than anything


else. He is making his way out of the conference will now. The


standing ovation continuing. Certainly cannot be called a


rabble-rousing speech. And no new policy initiatives of any great


significance were announced. There was some word of extra money for


primary school children who have struggled to master reading and


writing by the time they leave primary schools. But there was no


great changes in policy or taking on of existing policy. It was very


much a steady-as-she-goes speech. As I was saying to Nick Robinson


before, you get a sense that they know the die is cast. They have


made their bed, they have to lie in it and they have to hope that the


British economy comes right and they get at least some of the


credit for it coming right. What has been hanging over the


conference is that it might not come right and they will be


consigned to oblivion. Or it might come right all they do not get the


credit for it. There were a -- not a lot of e-mails coming in.


reaction was rather thin. There was not much either way, in praise of


criticising the speech. By La Scala guests to comment on it it was as a


result of people being underwhelmed or they just didn't have anything


to say. These are some of the males we got. David said, how realistic


is it for the UK economy to go bust? What on earth does he mean


and what hope is he giving as? Where is the hope and vision? This,


from George Howlett. This was in response to the Liberal Democrats'


pledge on tuition fees and the apology that we have talked about


so much. It has been put to music. Interesting that the main focus of


the speech was education, he talked about the Pupil Premium and money


being given to struggling pupils. He says, we, as a family, feel


betrayed. Our twin boys have gone to university, and we will have


debts of �300,000. The apology is obviously not working there. Daniel


Colgan says that the Liberal Democrats must accept that


austerity is a massive failure in Britain, as in Europe, and must


work harder to prevent the Tories harming the poor and vulnerable.


Roger Fletcher says if the Liberal Democrats were in power, the


furniture shop owner would not have been able to pass his business to


his sons, as they frowned upon inherited, unearned wealth. He got


a pretty good reception, as we can see. As good as we could expect in


circumstances. It is a tough time for the Lib Dems. They found it


difficult to make the transition from being a party of oppositional


protesting to government. It's a time that is not a good time to be


in government. Let's go to our political editor, Nick Robinson. He


has just run back from the conference for today the politics


point and the centre. What did you make of it? Maurice Reeves, the man


that lost his business in the riots in Croydon, was clearly meant to be


the symbol of this speech. He was the owner of that shop at the end


to the ground. I thought Nick Clegg was saying, to his party, I know


you think I am reducing the party to ashes, but you can rebuild. If


you use words like resilience, perseverance, effort, resolve, it


was peppered with references that were essentially a pet talk -- pep-


talk to the troops. You're never going to be liked again, that is


all gone, it's not about being liked, it's about becoming a


convincing party of government. He was trying to persuade them that


they could be that and it was a prize worth having. In many ways,


it was very different from a Tony Blair speech, even in the way it


was could doubt by the party. It contains a long sentences, long


paragraphs, all of the typing is close together. It is more like a


lecture, really, to the Lib Dems on the party that they are in and how


there is no alternative. You and I will remember that we used to give


Mr Blair's speeches, sentences without verbs, paragraphs that were


only one sentence? That's true. When we get these speeches, we get


them just before they are delivered, you go through them with your pen


or pencil and you instantly say, there is the soundbite. It was not


an easy speech when you got the text or when you heard it to pick


out those easy soundbites. I think that was for a reason. He was


trying to have a conversation with the country about the state of


their country. He was listing more of those problems, not just the


threat of the eurozone and the banking crisis, but the ageing


population and all the rest of it, trying to say to the party, look,


we've really got no choice now. We have made our choice as a party, he


was telling them, to go into coalition with the Tories. We made


our choices, we broke some promises and said sorry, the only way his


forwards. Therefore, I thought it was an argument with them, a


conversation with them that he was having, rather than a series of


their elaborately scripted clap He did say something which would


jar with a lot of people who are not Lib Dems. He said we've pulled


the economy back from the brink. We were now on the right path, he said.


A lot of people will look at the lack of growth in the economy, the


deficit is rising again, living standards being squeezed, wages not


keeping pace with inflation, and they'll say no, we are still on the


brink. Hold on a second, they are going to say to that. It is


interesting, in private Ministers, including Nick Clegg, would say


things they would never say things they would say in public. They are


well that were the data could be wrong, the the eurozone crisis


could get worse and not get better. But the phrase that is so toxic


that they can't say nit private does emerge in private, the green


shoots. They look at the employment figures, the P mifplt data, the


service sector, and say it is -- the PMI data, the service sector,


and say it is getting a little better. The message was a blunt one.


When he talked of two journeys, a journey for the party and one for


the country, if we can get the economy moving again, his party


will be OK. Implied by that is if we can't, we won't, and we'll be in


real troubling. There was a dog that didn't bark. He had nothing


expolice it to say to his own people about any kind of trade-off


between more cuts in public spending, a freeze on welfare, a


cut on some benefits and the Lib Dem demand for more taxes on the


affluent and the wealthy. It has been the kind of quid pro quo


that's been talked about but he nothing to say about that, did he?


No, what has been striking all week is that the Lib Dems have been


insist they wouldn't do a series of things I know the Conservatives


aren't really pressing for. They wouldn't cut income tax, he said


today, beyond 45p. I don't know a single Conservative Minister who is


arguing they should cut tax below the election to 40p. They have to


freeze some benefits, but the Treasury has long accepted that


that is not going to happen. And he wouldn't cut �10 billion off the


welfare budget. That was a figure the Chancellor used as an


illustration of what would have to come off two years of budget 2015-


17 to avoid cuts in other public services. And therefore if they are


only going to deal on one year there is never going to be a �10


billion cut in welfare. That isn't as some have suggested that the Lib


Dems haven't got the policies or are hiding them. The truth is we


negotiating period. It is going to last very many months. Stage one is


the Autumn Statement on December 59, stage two is the Spending Review in


autumn 2013, and there'll be a tug- of-war in the Government in which


the Lib Dems are clear they will say, you need to do something to to


show that you are putting a tax burden on the wealthy. I doubt very


much it would be a mansion tax. It could be tax relief on pensions.


And the Tories in return will say, that's all very well but we want


some cuts on welfare that. Wrestling match behind the scenes


will go on in private. What makes coalition so interesting, and it is


unlike any period we've seen, is a lot of it seeps out in public.


Because he leads his own party, he is not a Conservative, he has to


put down his red lines and make his negotiating positions in public


without giving any of the detail of what's going on in private. Lut me


spatchcock two cliches together, he lives to fight another day but he


is not out of the woods yet by any means The great thing about cliches


Andrew is that they are usually true. You are right. The talk of


leadership challenges at conference never really happened. Frankly the


idea, I Googled the man on the front page of one Sunday newspaper


calling for Nick Clegg to go, and I still didn't know he was.


Apparently he is a member of the House of Lords, haven't a clue who


Lord Smith is, never met him. The problem was not some plot or coup


attempt or a deal but a sense anxiety, that this party thought,


my goodness me, how do we get out of this mess? We are locked to


unpopular Tories, and Nick Clegg is linked to breaking his words and


with David Cameron. How do we ever put ourselves in a position to win


seats, or if we can't win enough to do a deal with Labour if that's


what the electorate choose after the election. What Nick Clegg has


been saying to them is don't think you do it by ditching the coalition,


by ditching me, don't think you do it by change course. You do it by


showing you are a mature and proper party of government that can make


difficult choices. And for that, he is telling them, you will get your


reward. The challenge, of course, just before you ask me in


conclusion Andrew, the challenge will come if at the 2013 conference


or the 2014 conference reward comes there none. Indeed. Nick, thank you


for joining us. We'll let you go and prepare for the main news


tonight on the BBC. Nick Robinson there, the BBC's political editor.


Jo? Our guests are Ben Page and Peter Kellner. You've survived the


speech! I've stayed awake. Your first impressions. It is not a


conversation with the country. Most people in Britain are going to be o


believe yus to this. He's stuck to his theme. It has got a few


horrible bad jokes in it. One thing that stood out, the couple being


trusted on the economy and on essential justice and that is the


pitch against the Conservatives, a pitch that the Liberal Democrats


are moderating the Conservatives, and of course a pitch to those


sleerts he's lost since the general election. -- the voters he's lost


since the general election. But trying to find the third way, as we


heard in that speech, it is not easy to be that distinctive from


Labour and the Conservatives. Will he say to any activists worrying


about having to make a pitch, will he have raised their hopes? I don't


think. So I wonder, listening to that, whether on coming back from


holiday Nick Clegg said to his staff, "Do we have to have a


conference? Must I give a speech, because I'm on a hiding to


nothing." It looked like a speech from a man who didn't want to


deliver it. It was an intelligent speech. If you read it, agree or


disagree, it read as an intelligent argument, not very well delivered.


This was the opposite. The delivery was good, but the words in it, my


goodness it was if he was trying to beat the Guinness World Record for


cliches. I admire Nick Clegg, what he's done over the last two years


has been courageous. This isn't his finest hour. Sometimes it is all in


the delivery, but you don't feel it lifted the words off the page in


that sense? If you think back to Paddy Ashdown, as election manager.


When he was leader, he delivered substantial speeches in the 1990s.


He would say big things about the nature of Britain, the nature of


the world, of the economy, of the challenges. He turned up with a


smartphone once to say, "I can read the wall street journal on this" he


said. You might have dis agreed with him but they were big


statements by a big beast. This wasn't a big statement and as a


result Nick to me didn't look like a big beast. Sit because he hasn't


got anything to say or is that he is feeling straightened by the


coalition, that this is a holding conference and a holding speech?


This is his conference, so he could say all sorts of things. It is a


steady as she goes and it will be alright in the long run. We had


keep going, keep going, keep going. Yes, keep calm and carpry on.


has been said repeated lyrics that is all they've got. It felt that


some of the people in that hall might have felt it would be more


fun when they were a protest party. The thing is that it is about


having an opportunity. Conference speeches for me have always been,


this is the big highlight for the leaders of the party, when a lot of


people are watching and listening to them did. He miss his


opportunity there? I think he did. You mentioned Churchill saving the


country and losing the election in 19456789 when Churchill took over


as Prime Minister, Britain was in a terrible state. One of the points


about Churchill was he didn't shrink from telling the bleak truth.


Vivid language but he didn't sugar the pill. That earned him credit.


If things are as bad as they clearly are for the economy and for


the party, if Nick Clegg is going to make that kind of appeal, in an


odd way he needs to be starker and more serious and more down-beat.


The gravitas wasn't there? wasn't there. The language, I


really didn't feel was right. thought it was interesting that he


quite explicitly linkleted the future of his party to the --


linked the future of his feet the country. If the policies come right,


the country will come right and our party will come right. There is


quite a lot of historical examples. Churchill in 1945, and Lloyd George,


he won the First World War and killed the Liberal Party. You could


say after Lehman Brothers Gordon moved Heaven and Earth to help stop


the economy from becoming a '30s- style slump and lost the election.


The electorate are very ungrateful. But in terms of the electorate,


what about red meat? There wasn't much red meat that. Usually is a


vital ingredient of conference speeches. It did feel like middle


managershaving a sales conference somewhere. That is a pretty damning


indictment from you. What could he have done red-meat-wise for the


party? They are going to have to get to that point at some stage,


because at some point they are going to have to stand against the


Conservatives and he will have to say, vote for us to stop it


happening, but at the moment he isn't doing, that but in 2015 he


will have to. Back to Brighton where if former leader of the


Liberal Democrats, a man who had ha had to make a speech like that.


Ming Campbell is there. What bit of the speech has stuck in your mind?


A pleasure. The march to the gunfire, the go back to your


government. We must not been held back by it. Three parties with an


interest in government in the United Kingdom, it seemed to me he


was putting a pretty serious test and equally a pretty serious


ambition. That's the bit that leapt out to me. But it seemed that the


fate of your party is tied one the success, or otherwise, of the


coalition's policies. It doesn't always follow that even if they


were to come right, would get the credit. Let's put that round the


other way. Supposing they had come wrong. Then you're finished.


would somehow be successful. You're toast. The analysis is right, of


course, that he has married together the success and progress


of the party with the success of the commitment but remember, that's


what the coalition agreement was about. It is what we signed up to.


It is why people like myself agreed that this was a coalition, a


necessity which we had to enter into. What he was doing essentially


was expressing frankly something which has been by implication the


position ever since May 2010. did he say nothing about the


potential trade-off which everyone has been talking about between the


coalition's need, particularly the Conservative desire to make further


cuts or further freezes on benefits, and your party's desire for higher


taxes on the wealthy? Why did he not mention that? Well, I was


eavesdropping on Nick Robinson a moment ago when you were talking to


him. He was pointing out the fact that Liberal Democrats, not


surprisingly perhaps, have been going around this conference saying,


we are not going to do this or that. These are not things which are


under consideration in this Parliament. Remember, the coalition


is for this Parliament, its success or otherwise, will be determined by


what happens in this Parliament. One general point if I may. This


wasn't an occasion for the sunny southern uplands. It was an austere


speech for an age of austerity. we've got to be serious in the way


in which we deal with it. Lying behind the speech at every stage


was the question of opportunity, not just opportunity for those who


are less well-off, but opportunity for our party. In a sense you could


argue this was a challenge to the Liberal Democrats. Here is where we


are, here's what we've got to do, When you look at everything that


has been demanded, when you get everything that has been demanded


by the Lib Dems, surely it is fair to say that you are much more


likely to get what you want from a Labour party than a Conservative


Party? I thought one of the interesting part of the speech was


when he pointed out that all talk of what one would do after the next


election really is arrogant. In this sense, the people will decide


what sort of parliament they want to have. If it's a hung parliament


once again, all parties will have an obligation to see what is


necessary to do in the national interests. I don't think anything


is served by anticipating the result of the General Election and


by attempting to present positions in advance of that result. Wouldn't


there be widespread anger if the Liberal Democrats were to lose a


large number of seats at the next General Election, but still held


the balance of power and stayed in government? People would think that


was not fair. Well, the British electoral system is not fair. If we


had a proper proportional system... You lost that argument! Then what


you say would not occur. I can hear some heckling. But if we had a fair


system, of course, coalition is something we have to deal with more


than once every eight years. What we seek to do is to build on what


has gone before, realising that our success or failure will depend on


the circumstances that encouraged and some may even say Forster's


into coalition. That is the austere message that we have heard. It is


one that seemed to be well received. The mood has been, to some extent,


anxious. If Nick Clegg had got up and said, look, we have turned the


corner, all is going to be milk and honey, people like yourselves and


the delegates would have been smiling behind their hands. An


entirely realistic speech. Realism and commitment, not rhetoric.


seem to want to be in a position, and Vince Cable alluded to this,


having been a party that was never in power, you want to see election


results which mean you will always be in power? You would hardly be


surprised about that. Yes, it's about winning an election. It's


very seductive indeed when you consider, as... Well, I joined the


Liberal Party when there were six MPs. I came an MP and there were 18


of us. The notion of government, the kind of influence we have


enjoyed and the kind of responsibility we have had to


undertake seemed entirely remote. As Nick Clegg has quite properly


said, a different party, for different times. If power and


responsibility goes along with that, he will not find any of ejection


from any of the delegates in Brighton. Does it wrangle with you


that the man widely regarded as his heir apparent is three years older


than you or when who you were leader of the party and thought to


be too old to run it? No. Another Time, Another Place, I can assure


you that I do not lie awake at night or even get up in the morning


sticking pins into effigies of Vince Cable. Would you like to?


When Gordon Brown declined to call the election in autumn 2007, which


he undoubtedly should have done, as even he might now admit, it was


clear to me that the issues of age that were crowded around were going


to be even greater in the three years that were going to follow


until the General Election was held in 2010. Nick Clegg was my


preferred successor. He has done something which very few Liberal


Democrat... No Liberal Democrat leaders, and very few Liberal


leaders have done. He's had the opportunity of taking us into


government. That, for the party, whatever difficulties that may have


caused, it has been an enormous achievement. But it could have been


you, if they look more kindly on your age, the way that they seem to


be on Vince Cable's, it could be you. Deputy Prime Minister


Campbell? Well, it is very good of you to keep up this barrage of


support for myself. I don't remember, if I may say so, that you


were among those at the time that was saying, stay on, you are young


enough. Exactly, there we go. Anyway, we lost. And you for


joining us. Have you got a campaign to get Ming


Campbell reinstated? Ardour is worth the crowds and has managed to


grab a couple of people who were in there, listening to Nick Clegg.


Good afternoon. I have not grab them yet. We are going to grab them


on BBC Two and see who would like to talk to us. Are you making notes


about your favourite parts of the speech? No. What were your


favourite bits? A clear message that we are going to differentiate


ourselves from the Tories. I think that is absolutely critical. The


reason we are going to do that is the whole equalities agenda. I


think Mecca is absolutely right. No other party is going to do it.


Labour talk about it, they didn't do it and will not do it again.


That was key. The other thing, he has now hopefully dispelled any


question that he should lead us into the next General Election.


Very quickly, marks out of 10? Scientific. Thank you very much. He


Wells would like to talk to the Daily Politics? These guys look


quite keen. He's going to get a train. What did you reckon about


the speech? A very strong speech. My highlight was that Blue cannot


become green without yellow. That sums up what is happening with the


environment. In the coalition, the Conservatives would not be


delivering an UNEF what is happening in that government. A


very strong green message in government. I thought you might


mention that, you have a green badge. You are not running off for


a train? Not yet. Are you prepared to be shouted at in your


constituency, because you are a proper, grown-up party of


government? I'm on the doorsteps every week. It is nothing new to us


at all. We are not being shouted at. He's talking about not being a


protest party any more and being grown-up. What does that mean in


practice when you are campaigning? It means you can say to people, we


have delivered this, we have raised the income tax that will say you


get more of your money to take home, we have invested in schools, we


have a Pupil Premium. The catch-up fund his regard for people in my


area, Tottenham specifically. They will benefit from that and they are


doing so. Well done, you have learned all of the party lines.


Let's see if we can find some odd delegates. What did you make of the


speech? You are live on BBC Two. Really enjoyed it. Very inspiring,


just what we needed. What I noticed was the talk about Paddy Ashdown


coming back to run the next election got a bigger club than


anything else. Why was that? just love party. That doesn't mean


we did not love Nick. He was 15 last on the front line 15 years ago


and never won an election. What makes an qualified? If he can sort


out Bosnia, he can sort out the country and help get us elected.


Did the speech but all of the rumours to rest? I think so. It's


interesting. A lot of the mutterings about the leadership


were coming from members of the media. Sorry, not you necessarily.


We were here on Saturday and somebody from an alternative news


outlet was going around, basically trying to find people to say nasty


things about Nick. It wasn't me! was not you, it stopped because


they found it very difficult to find people. Vince Cable scarpered


pretty quickly. We saw him leaving just after the speech finished.


Would you like to speak to us? thought I would praise him for the


amazing speech. It really inspired me. I always come to the conference


looking to be inspired, to go back to work and knocking on doors. I


work as an organiser. It really helps to motivate me and it helps


me to motivate other people. I think the speech did exactly that.


It set out the Liberal Democrat vision. I think it explained to the


country what Liberal Democrats stand for. There was only one


policy announced, the catch-up premium. That is a bit lame, isn't


it? Not only one policy, there were a number of other things he focused


on. The fairer taxes campaign, which we have been talking about


since 2010, which we have delivered so much on already, it is being


delivered and will carry on being delivered. I'll stop you there, I


have spotted the man that runs the Lib Dem shop. We do not have Nick


in person. But what have been the best sellers from the shop? The two


bestsellers have been the Sorry Macs and badgers. And also the pleb


badges. We have run out of stock. heard that you jacked up the price


of the badge, it started selling for 25 pence? It started at 25p, we


sold it at 25p. But there is a black market of people buying it.


There was one bystander earlier today. He didn't have any, he


offered somebody �5 for it and she passed it over. And then she bought


one from me at 25 pence later. you want to have the last word?


Marks out of 10? It was great. Talking about our distinctive


vision. That is what we've got to do. We've got to keep saying, the


income tax threshold would not have been raised under the Tories. It


was raised because it was one of our main policies. We have brought


in 75% of our manifesto. What marks out of 10 would you give it? Nine


out of 10. What would you say the atmosphere was like? It wasn't


barnstorming, was it? It wasn't, but he said what we wanted to hear.


He was honest with us. He talked about tough decisions. That, we


have to admit that. That the decisions are going to be tough.


This is not easy. That is it, the word from the delegates on the


conference floor. Remember, you end up with these from the party


conferences. This year, the Lib Dems are recycling them! No more


clocking up your house in your We are in the dying minutes of our


coverage. Some of you might want to put emphasis on the word dying. I


am a Labour strategist, watching this, my conferences next week. And


thinking, at the very least, I might have to be the largest party


after the next election. Can I do business with them? Yes. The one


thing that Nick Clegg was absolutely clearly right is that in


the end it is the voters that decide. If Labour is the largest


party in the next Parliament, unless it is only two or three


seats in it, the Liberal Democrats will only have one choice, like


last time. In the end, they only had one option, to do a deal with


the Tories. If it is Labour tent seats away from a majority, they


will have to do a deal with Labour, if they like it or not. But I did


they can do business. They are fighting over the same voters. The


voters that he has lost have, by and large, gone to the Labour Party.


Labour have to hang onto them. almost come to the end of the


coverage. A very important thing to do now, the most important thing I


have done all day. Put you out of your misery. No, not by ending the


coverage, to give you the answer to the guess the year competition. The


year was 1999. I got it right, for once. Once, being the operative


word. If you thump that red button, we will reveal the button. --


winner. David Joyce, from Leeds, you have won. Looking ahead to


Manchester, Labour will not have a leadership scare. That is not an


issue at the moment. They are in good shape in the polls. The


coalition is deeply worried, the economy is still showing few signs


of recovery. It could be pretty easy for them next week? Except


that they know, as we used to say about David Cameron before the


blast election, Ed Miliband has not sealed the deal with the public.


The public are disenchanted with the Conservatives, they are


disenchanted with the Liberal Democrats. They are less


apprehensive about Labour than a year ago. But it is not like Tony


Blair, when he was positively popular. Ed Miliband still has work


to do. In his conference speech, he needs to do better than Nick Clegg.


Even his own voters are less enthusiastic about him than the


Conservatives are about Cameron. thank you for being with us.


That it, on the day that Nick Clegg delivered his speech to the Lib Dem


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