Thursday, 3 January 2008

Calamity Clegg ?

Below is the infamous press release from the Huhne leadership campaign which it describes as calamity Clegg.

Nick Clegg in the Media on public services reform and proportional representation

On School Vouchers:

The Observer, October 21st 2007 by Jasper Gerrard (a close personal friend of Nick Clegg
and listed supporter)

However, while Huhne believes in local democratic accountability for public services, does
Clegg believe additionally that consumers need personal choice to drive up standards? 'I
want to see people empowered. I'm constantly confronted by people faced by the insensitivity
of a faceless state - at the town hall as well as Whitehall. Centralisation has created a sense
of powerlessness, one of the most disfiguring features of contemporary life. We have a
bewildering array of choice when we walk into a supermarket, but feel passive recipients of
state largesse.'

So is that a 'yes'? 'I want a sense of empowerment on a daily basis for people accessing
health care and good education.' Well that's clear. But he differs from free marketeer Tories in
that 'having lived in Europe and had children born in hospitals in Europe, they have a far
greater sense of equity in health and education. It is not like a supermarket but the patient,
pupil or parent has entitlements which the provider of services has to meet.' So according to
his 'pupil premium', parents would be given a voucher to spend in their preferred school; but
while a flaw in such schemes is often that the savvy middle class pack the best schools,
Clegg would increase the value of the voucher for the needy - making the poorer child a more
attractive proposition to good schools.

Link -,,2195776,00.html

The Telegraph, October 27th p 16 by Rachel Slyvester

Parents should, he argues, be given a voucher for their children's education - which would be
worth more for poor pupils - although unlike some of his colleagues he says he is "not yet
persuaded'' that the voucher should be useable in private, as well as state, schools.

There have still been no retractions from either story. Nick Clegg did not respond to a
letter from Chris Huhne on this subject, but asked his campaign manager to do so.
Nick Clegg also states in his manifesto he also criticises means testing, yet how will he
determine who the most disadvantaged are? Would it mean more means testing that
has failed and that he himself has criticised?

On the NHS:

The Scotsman, September 20th 2005 by Gerri Peev
The idea to smash the centralised health service and put more power into local hands was
put forward by Nick Clegg , a Lib Dem MP who is tipped as a possible future leader of the

Mr Clegg said there should be no "taboos" when it comes to reform of the public services and
the party should not discard insurance-based models adopted by other European countries.
In an article for the Liberal magazine, Mr Clegg said: "The logical outcome of our own belief in
a thoroughly devolved health service would involve radical reform of the founding structures
of the NHS, breaking down its monolithic structure and accepting variations in health
provision in a decentralised system."

The Independent, September 19th 2005 by Marie Woolf (a former researcher for Sir Menzies

"One very, very important point “I think breaking up the NHS is exactly what you do need to
do to make it a more responsive service." Then he goes further, even refusing to rule out the
insurance-based models used in mainland Europe and Canada.

"I don’t think anything should be ruled out. I think it would be really, really daft to rule out any
other model from Europe or elsewhere. I do think they deserve to be looked out because
frankly the faults of the British health service compared to others still leave much to be

In a leaflet produced for the leadership election, Clegg is muted on the issue. He has
then made clear in hustings that he is not in favour of an insurance-based system.
In his manifesto and at various hustings he states that “we should think about how
they should be funded and delivered.” Does this mean that he still favours and
insurance based model?

On PR:

The Sunday Times, September 17th 2006 by Jasper Gerrard (a close personal friend of Nick
Clegg and listed supporter)

“Clegg also argues Lib Dems shouldn’t bang on about electoral reform being a condition for
support in a hung parliament.”

Meanwhile, in his latest campaign literature under the headline Case For PR Very
Strong he says: “Gordon Brown & David Cameron continue to talk about trust and
reform – yet refuse to consider the one measure that would make every single vote
count, Proportional Representation. To increase voter participation at elections,
electors need to see their vote will count. At the next election let’s have a system
where every single vote will count and every elector can influence the result, not just a
tiny few in a small number of constituencies.”

Clegg on education

Extracts from the transcript of a GMTV interview 11th September 2007
Steve Richards: So just to be clear about [the pupil premium], if you become leader you will
propose that schools in more affluent areas lose some of their budget so poorer schools can
have more.

Nick Clegg: Let me be very clear. What I’m proposing is - the figure is £2.5 billion extra –
extra! – there’s no taking away money from the current school budget whatsoever. Extra
money, which will be allocated directly to those children. Not in terms of the areas where they
live but to them, and then, if you like, the school which is educating those children gets that
double amount of money in order that they can have smaller class sizes, particularly at
primary school level. ….
SR: And where would that money come from? It’s a big additional spending commitment.
NC: I agree. £1.5 billion will come from taking above average families out of the tax credit
system altogether. And we’ll take that £1.5 billion out of the tax credit system, or at least we’ll
take families on above average income out of the tax credit system, use that money to give to
the kids from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. That leaves a gap of a million… of a
billion, sorry, and it would be one of the first things I would do as a leader to say to the party
that we will have to find that extra billion, so that the total sum of £2.5 billion is a fixed pledge
by the time we go to the country in the next general election.
SR: You’d accept that you’ve got a black hole there. You haven’t found where the money’s
going to come from, the other billion.
NC: Er, yes, but I mean there are other ideas. For instance there are other ideas, I mean for
instance I’ve also this week been floating ideas for how I think we should introduce a 10% tax
on the non-domestic earnings of so-called ‘non-doms’. In that particular case that raises about
£1 billion. I would like that to go to alleviate the burden of Council Tax on those in Band A and
band B properties, those on the lower rung of the property ladder, if you like. But it’s just an
example of where we can be creative in trying to find that extra money in order to fulfil that
pledge, and I’m absolutely confident that we will under my leadership make that fixed pledge
by the next general election.
SR: By one way or another taxing the better off, presumably. Because it has to come from
NC: Yes, er well no, hang on, or, sorry…
SR: You said yes, so tax increase?
NC: No, no, let me correct that. I think there is plenty of scope to cut back on some of the
waste in government, some of the duplication in government. I think there is a strong case to
look at how government expenditure’s been duplicated in many areas. Everybody is familiar
with the general degree of waste in public expenditure in the last few years, so I have given
you if you like a fluctuating answer precisely because I think that I’m not fixed in my own mind
about where that money would come from, but absolutely confident that with political will that
money will be found.

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