Clegg’s speech: Long on dramatic pauses, short on facts

Nick Clegg's spin on issues such as the NHS, the environment and child detention didn't quite match the facts, in his Liberal Democrat party conference speech.

Nicholas William Peter Clegg: He was the future once

Nick Clegg recieved the traditional leader’s standing ovation at Liberal Democrat conference this afternoon. His speech was probably easier to write given he had a slightly skewed view of the last year-and-a-half of coalition government.

For example, the Lib Dem leader argued the coalition’s package of public sector cuts was the only reponsible course of action – to disagree was to be irresponsible.

He said:

“Our first big decision was to clear the structural deficit this parliament. To wipe the slate clean by 2015. This has meant painful cuts. Agonisingly difficult decisions. Not easy, but right.”

Yet the cut in demand and resultant slowed growth may lead to the deficit actually being greater than projected under the Alistair Darling plan.

As Cormac Hollingsworth wrote on Left Foot Forward earlier this week:

“While in March the OBR was slashing growth forecasts for just this year, we’re now facing a “lost decade” (the IMF’s words not ours) and growth is being serially downgraded.

“The IMF downgrade of cumulative growth of 1.5% will have a significant impact on borrowing. Without growth we face a real risk borrowing will not be falling fast enough for the deficit to halve.”

One of the biggest cheers in the hall came for the Liberal Democrats’ stance against child detention – it was, according to Clegg, what made it worthwhile to lose seats. However, this has not been acheived yet. Despite progress, two deadlines have already been passed.

Just two weeks ago Left Foot Forward reported:

“…the new 4,500 capacity child and family detention facility at Pease Pottage near Crawley, euphemistically entitled ‘pre-departure accommodation’, has opened.”

There was then the great boast that raising the income tax threshold – which to be clear does not help those on the lowest incomes but those on low to medium incomes – was a great act of social justice.

He said:

“[We are making ] a new economy where the lowest-paid get to keep the money they earn. That’s why a Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury has put two hundred pounds into the pocket of every basic rate taxpayer and taken almost a million workers – most of them women – out of income tax altogether.”

Yet the burden has merely been shifted from income tax and National Insurance to VAT, and the poorest lose out as a result.

As Tim Horton and Howard Reed wrote on Left Foot Forward:

“Overall the distributional impact of the tax changes is an “inverted U shape” – with the poorest households and the richest households losing more than households in the middle.”

Then there was the rallying cry of the green agenda.

He claimed:

“We have stood by our commitments to act on the environment… we have acted immediately.”

While how green this government has been can be questioned from lots of angles, perhaps the most iconic is the question of nuclear energy – where the balance of opinion has been more firmly against than the other two parties.

Yet the industry is recieving hidden subsidies from the government.

As Joss Garman wrote on Left Foot Forward:

“New findings showing the nuclear industry could receive a £3.43 billion windfall this way between 2013 and 2026 via a plan outlined in Mr Huhne’s new energy market reform proposals.”

And of course, the health service has not been safeguarded by Clegg’s “fighting to keep the NHS safe”.

As Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George wrote on thes pages this morning:

“The bill runs the very high risk of producing a national health service which is driven more by private profit than by concern about patient care.”

Maybe if Clegg read Britain’s number one left-wing blog more often, he could catch up with the facts.

See also:

Clegg attacks Labour/union link – but keeps schtum on Tory/City linksShamik Das, September 21st 2011

21 Responses to “Clegg’s speech: Long on dramatic pauses, short on facts”

  1. Can Clegg deliver on his social mobility pledges? | Left Foot Forward

    […] his speech today, Nick Clegg told us “every child can do good things, great things, if only we give them the […]

  2. Gillian Fraser

    Please could someone spell check this article – recieved and acheived!

  3. Shamik Das

    Dear Gillian, our apologies! The errors have now been fixed.

  4. Ash

    “raising the income tax threshold – which to be clear does not help those on the lowest incomes but those on low to medium incomes”

    …and those on high incomes, if you look at things in terms of households’ position on the income distribution rather than in terms of individual earnings. A single person on £40,000, a childless couple on £30,000 each, and a family with one parent earning £100,000 and one earning £20,000 would all benefit by at least £1,000 – but none would be anywhere near the middle of the income distribution.

  5. Carrie Martin

    Fact checking Clegg's speech – those acheivements don't stack up http://t.co/53ngs30q writes @DanielElton #LDconf #LD11 #Clegg

  6. Stuart Sorensen

    Fact checking Clegg's speech – those acheivements don't stack up http://t.co/53ngs30q writes @DanielElton #LDconf #LD11 #Clegg

  7. CAROLE JONES

    Fact checking Clegg's speech – those acheivements don't stack up http://t.co/L0TGk9S8 – no surprises there…

  8. Alex Braithwaite

    Fact checking Clegg's speech – those acheivements don't stack up http://t.co/53ngs30q writes @DanielElton #LDconf #LD11 #Clegg

  9. Dave Citizen

    After hearing the speech live I came away with the feeling it had been much more about Clegg attempting to chart a course for his own political survival than any concern for improving the state of the country.

  10. H. O.

    Fact checking Clegg's speech – those acheivements don't stack up http://t.co/53ngs30q writes @DanielElton #LDconf #LD11 #Clegg

  11. Betty Thompson

    Clegg's speech: Long on dramatic pauses, short on facts: As Joss Garman wrote on the website: “New findings show… http://t.co/gSYXXVda

  12. Gary Banham

    Fact checking Clegg's speech – those acheivements don't stack up http://t.co/53ngs30q writes @DanielElton #LDconf #LD11 #Clegg

  13. Daniel Elton

    @johnmcternan did you see our fisking of Clegg – like yours, exceot with less wit, more hyperlinks http://t.co/xliaS1Fi on @leftfootfwd

  14. Steve Trow

    Clegg’s speech: Long on dramatic pauses, short on facts: http://t.co/53ngs30q writes @DanielElton #LDconf #LD11 #Clegg

  15. Steve Trow

    Fact checking Clegg's speech – those acheivements don't stack up http://t.co/53ngs30q writes @DanielElton #LDconf #LD11 #Clegg

  16. Mr. Sensible

    I’m afraid Clegg, like the rest of the government, is not keeping up with economic reality.

  17. Ray_North

    Clegg’s speech was very poor – schizophrenic on the economy, petty on politics and disingenious about some of the fundamental facts of both Labour’s record and his own thus far in government.
    We analyised it in more detail here:
    http://www.allthatsleft.co.uk/2011/09/lib-dem-conference-special-clegg-rules-out-entering-coalition-with-labour-ever/

  18. Recycled Tory attacks show Clegg has gone native | Left Foot Forward

    […] also: • Clegg’s speech: Long on dramatic pauses, short on facts – Daniel Elton, September 21st […]

  19. Look Left – “Six weeks to save the euro” warns Osborne | Left Foot Forward

    […] with myself” self-congratulatory spiel, the speech was worryingly shy on facts, as Daniel Elton pointed out on Left Foot Forward: on cuts being “responsible”, and “in the national interest” deficit; […]

  20. Nick Clegg dodges, again, the question of what he’s doing to end child detention | Left Foot Forward

    […] also: • Clegg’s speech: Long on dramatic pauses, short on facts – Daniel Elton, September 21st […]

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