Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Liking Nick Clegg but not the Lib Dems

The stock of Nick Clegg is rising since his brave and principled stance at the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool this year. Read this by Fraser Nelson.

Fortunately for those who have supported economic liberalism Vince Cable is there to remind us that its just Nick Clegg who makes sense, and maybe a few orange book Lib Dems. The Sandalistas are still the unelectable majority.

Monday, 11 January 2010

A Clockwork Clegg is back

With the general election not far away this blog is being fired up for one more try.

It written from a sceptical right of centre, but not necessarily always hostile, viewpoint.

There are many things to admire about Nick Clegg - today's attempt to ditch excessive Lib Dem spending policies is one of them ( see here ). Of course tomorrows Guardian may well have a letter telling him he'll do no such thing, but we'll see.

Nick Clegg strikes me as someone who made a few wrong turns early in life ( Europhilia and not listening to Mrs Thatcher's society speech properly being among them ), but he's not you usual insane Lib Dem promise merchant either.

He's a bit more complex, and is worth watching.

Although personally I think he'll be luck to survive the year as Lib Dem leader.

PS If you'd like to help contribute to a Clockwork Clegg, on the same basis, drop me a line.

Man in a Shed

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

All a bit quiet of late

This blog was started up to engage with the phenomena of Nick Clegg and what he might do with the Lib Dems.

The author is from the centre right, and has historically seen the Lib Dems as an enemy if not the enemy.

But Clegg looked interesting, he still does.

However, I haven't been keeping this blog up to date so I'll have to decide if I should kill it off or try to post more often.....

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A Fisk of Clegg

A Fisk of Clegg

Based on the transcript of Nick Clegg conference speech 17 Sep 08

I'm going to talk today about the future.

But let me start by asking you to think back to the past.

One year ago. It was a different world. You remember.

The Labour government was, sort of - popular.

Gordon Brown had dealt with a crisis - competently.

Everyone wanted to pay court to The Great Gordon.

Even Margaret Thatcher had tea with him. Because she was invited - not the other way round, but then you never did understand Mrs T did you ?

The Sun newspaper wrote: "Gordon Brown is in a position of strength".

And at the other end of Whitehall.

David Miliband was telling reporters he wasn't interested in being prime minister.

Oh, really, David. Hang on weren't you getting in trouble with Mrs Campbell about this time last year for disloyalty or was that the other one ?

Things were so different last year that when Vince Cable predicted a housing collapse, people just thought he was Victor Meldrew.

No-one outside this party realised Vince was a twinkle-toed economic prophet. Actually Nick it was easily predictable based on debt to earnings and others did

What a difference a year makes.Yes your the one who's worried about his job this year

But what's far more important is that things have changed for every family in Britain too.

The political changes of the last year are nothing compared with the economic hardships families face now.

Like Angie, a middle-aged mum, who came to see me recently in my constituency.

Who said she was finding it difficult to sleep.

She told me about that sinking feeling she gets at the supermarket checkout and the petrol pump.

Counting down the days until her cheap mortgage deal ends.

Switching down to just half an hour of heating in the morning because it's all she can afford.

You know how it feels, don't you? You certainly did when you cancelled you Ocado shop every week ...

There's this big, intangible thing called the global credit crunch.

Banks and funds with names you'd never heard of - Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns.

And suddenly you're worrying - is my money safe, in my bank, on my high street?

These are difficult times.A very good reason not to trust a bunch of charlatans like the Fib Dems you'd think.

Our economy weakens by the day.

We survive on oil and coal we cannot afford, from nations we cannot trust. Like Scotland ;-)

A firestorm is raging through our financial system, ignited by reckless bankers and fuelled by complacent politicians.Actually if you think about it (which you clearly haven't), its the other way round.

I had a look back recently at Gordon Brown's final budget last year.

Can you believe it.

He actually boasted: "Our growth will be the highest in the G7".

"Inflation has never gone above 3%" he bragged.

Labour offers nothing.Not fair - Labour offers to reduce you wealth and blow your pension on unreformed public services - which you mostly supported.

They're so desperate to protect their own jobs, they can't be bothered to protect other people's.Tick

They're the living dead, no heart, no mind, no soul.

Stumbling around with no idea what to do.

They are a zombie government.

A cross between Shaun of the Dead and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.

All these backbenchers and ex-ministers you've never heard of.

Rising up from the grave of obscurity.

To impale their Gordon Brown.

Thank goodness Gordon's got Geoff Hoon, chief whip, chief zombie slayer on his side.

Riding to the Prime Minister's rescue, he declared: "It's important that people who have something to say come out and say it."

What a shambles.

We can't predict the future.

We can't know exactly what challenges our country will face.

But we can be certain that Labour cannot help us.

And we can be certain that the Conservatives won't bother. Utter rubbish - as you know - but you are the Fib Dems after all !

Cameron's only aim was to make the Conservatives inoffensive.Nope I think you'll find its to win power to save the country from woolly lefties like the Lib Dems

Problem is, once you strip out the offensive parts of the Conservative party, there isn't much left.

Cameron's hope is to become the Andrex puppy of British politics.

A cuddly symbol, perhaps.

But fundamentally irrelevant to the product he's promoting.

I asked my office to do some research over the summer into Conservative policy positions.

Before you laugh, it turns out they have actually said quite a lot.

3,148 pages worth, in fact. So not funny then eh ? Get Vince to help you on the Jokes - come to think of it let Vince do everything.

At a best guess, that's about 1.8 million words.

That is three times as long as War and Peace.

Or two and half thousand readings of The Gruffalo.

I think they're hoping to produce so much of this stuff that no-one will have the time to read it.

Because, out of all those 1.8 million words, guess how many translate into concrete commitments?

None. Not one.( Ref back to your earlier assertion about predicting the future - you're really not paying attention are you - note to Nick - fire this graduate speech writer person )

You see, when you promise, you have to choose.Would you like to help us with the £20 Billion spending cuts you've promised ( well mentioned really ) and how they can be made up - because you sure couldn't earlier on News night ( hint maybe Vince knows ).

When it's all "blue skies thinking" - you can say everything, no matter how contradictory. Pot calling Kettle black here from the Fib Dems I think ....

You can say you want fairer taxes - but propose to spend billions cutting inheritance tax for the very richest in the land.And loads of other people - in fact if you look at the threshold its about everyone. Those who are very wealthy employ accountants to get round this tax anyway - this helps ordinary people mostly - get Vince to explain it to you.

You can call for the European Union to be stronger against the Russians - while still plotting to break it in two.Are you going to declare your interests here Nick - in temrs of the EU and Russia and fmaily links eh - no thought not.

You can say you'll protect civil liberties - and then call for extra surveillance powers.

You can cycle to work - and have your driver follow behind.This is getting a bit tired now - you really need a new speech writer - ask Vince he must have one.

They are a say everything, do nothing party.You can't do anything in opposition - a point that seems lost of your party and its supporters.

David Cameron and his cronies have tried to take over every comforting, soft-focus word in the dictionary.

They are for work-life balance, fairness, motherhood, apple pie, saving the planet and custard. Isn't custard yellow - no I don't think were in favour of that...

You have to admire, I suppose, the sheer gall of someone who worked for Margaret Thatcher claiming he cares about poverty.This is shameless character assassination - but then since you never did read that speech on Society when you were at Uni I guess your happy to live in ignorance.

But that arrogance, that born-to-rule conceit, that sense he's already picking out curtain patterns for Number 10.Picked out curtains !! Really you must dump this speech writer - oh don't tell us you thought this up all on your own ?

That's not what Britain needs.

Power must be earned, not inherited.Actually all the power is going to go out thanks to Labour/Lib Dem green tree hugging irresponsibility

What Britain needs now is absolute honesty about the situation we're in. So shut up then.

And big, bold ideas to set us right.

Quite simply we need a government that listens, understands, and acts. So no leadership eh - we've had government by focus group and it hasn't worked to well

And you know what?

The Liberal Democrats can be - will be - that government. You know this is just misleading and ridiculous don't you - of course you do your a Lib Dem its in your DNA

We are the party with the ideas that can get Britain out of this mess.

Because we understand. What exactly ?

There are no mistakes made by government that cannot be set right by the British people. Except signing Lisbon, selling Gold at the bottom of the market etc etc

If only they are given the chance.

Ask yourself this:

When you meet someone new, someone you don't know anything about.

What do you expect?

I'll tell you what I expect.

My basic view of human nature is that people are born with goodness in them.

Of course, people can be selfish, cruel or violent -

But I believe no-one starts that way.

Most people, most of the time, will do the right thing.

Not just for themselves - but for their family, their neighbours, their community.

They need to be trusted to make those choices.

There is a terrible pessimism in the way Gordon Brown thinks we should all be organised from above.tick

Our every move controlled by the great puppet master in the sky.

And there's pessimism too from David Cameron when he says that if you're overweight, vulnerable or poor, you're on your own.So where are the quotes on that - or is it something you've just made up. I guess as an athiest there's nothing stopping you misrepresenting people eh ?

It's condescending.Its untrue

Talking down to us.Maybe because you tell lies ?

Talking us down.By pointing out your liars - sounds reasonable enough

What neither of them understand.

Is that if you always see the worst in people, you will never fix anything.This wouldn't pass muster for a sixth form eassay - its just pathetic.

There are huge challenges.

Protecting the planet.

An ageing population.

Keeping our economy competitive as globalisation shifts the power centres of the world.

Everything we know from the last fifty years will change in the next five.Generalisation - if true education would be pointless

These are challenges that could overwhelm us if we do not harness our potential.

It's liberalism - optimistic liberalism - that will find the best in Britain.

We have got to get Britain's economy up and running again.

Without jobs, there's no fairness, no opportunity.Lets get this straight are we being liberal and allowing people to make their own way - or social democrat and doing it for them ?

So let me set out, right now, our Fairer Future economic recovery plan.

Four steps to a better economic future.

One. Action to stop unjust repossessions before tens of thousands of families find themselves on the streets. Actually they are just - but perhaps unwise

Guided by the one man who had the foresight to see these problems coming.

With more wisdom and experience than Labour and Conservatives combined:Well you Nick anyway

Vince Cable.

Two. The free-wheeling, bonus-driven, short termism of the City must come to an end.

We must stop the amoral culture that sees speculators betting on banks to fail, knowing the taxpayer will pay out in the end.

And the madness of bonuses awarded no matter what.

We need a wholly new approach to regulation: limiting, not encouraging, the excesses of the market.

And when reckless bankers come with gold-plated begging bowls to ask for shareholders to be bailed out.

Our answer should be a resounding No.The Shareholders and the pension funds and the people ( well those without gold plated EU and Westminster pensions that is ). So its Labour's stuff the Grannies policy eh ?

Three. We will put in place the building blocks for future economic stability.

Interest rates that take house price changes into account.So aren't there to control inflation eh ? In fact I'm guess your thinking of lowering interest rates not raising them. Of course interest rates shoudl have been raised earlier - but that's not what you mean is it --- go and ask Vince to explain again.

And independent monitoring of our fiscal rules. The problem has been Gordon Browns splitting of responsibilities and emasculation of the Bank of England.

And finally - but most importantly.

Tax cuts for families who are struggling.

To help them make ends meet.

And keep the wheels of the economy turning.

The money must go direct to people on low and middle incomes.No no no - the money doesn't go to these people - the government should take less away. your sounding like Gordon Brown on a tax credit bender here.

The very wealthy, the super-rich - should be paying more not less.Right - thats going to happen eh ? Have you learnt nothing over the last 30 years ? The Rich avoid tax and if necvessary leave the country. Raise tax rates on them and you'll get less tax !

I will never support the Tory idea that you cut taxes for millionaires and the benefits somehow trickle down.That's because your stupid and don't remeber what happened in the 70's - still aren't you a millionaire Nick ?

That's not what struggling families need.

They need their money back.No No No - they need the government to stop taking the money from them. Will you give the Lib Dem socilism arest Nick !!!

I was talking to a pensioner recently.Could have asked her what the state pension was eh ? Note to Nick - ask Vince

Joan.See you can remeber things

I could see the anxiety on her face.

She was one of the million people who lost out from the 10p tax rate even after the so-called compensation package.

Struggling to pay every bill that comes through the door.

Worrying about getting through the winter.

If you were Joan,

What would you want?

Your money spent on a management consultant's advice on a government IT project that will never work?

Or your money handed back to you?NO - don't take the money in the first place !!!!!

Liberal Democrats have called for tax rises in the past. Too bloody right you have - and your well known for it.

When what Britain needed most of all was more investment in our public services.Don't start me on what investment really means.

We were right to do so.No you weren't - it was wasted on unreformed public services (salaries mostly for the Labour/Lib Dem payroll vote )

But what hard-up families need most of all today.Is for that never to have happened

Is food on the table, petrol in the car, and warmth in their homes.

Here's how we'll find the money to help them.

We'll ensure everyone makes a fair contribution - polluters, fat cats and non-doms included.

Our idea is simple.

Every person pays their fair share.

Under Gordon Brown tax has become voluntary for the super-rich and for giant multinational companies. Well actually Nick many of them are leaving for low tax Ireland

And David Cameron will make it even easier for those at the top.

When Northern Rock collapsed, the chief executive got what they call a "golden goodbye".

Thirty thousand pounds tax free.

As a thank you for failure.

Who can explain that to Joan? Not you obviously

Why is she paying more, when the man who brought down Northern Rock is getting tax-free handouts?Perhaps we should get some of the billions we waste on the EU back to heat Joan's house eh ?

It's wrong, and it's got to stop.

Raising taxes at the top will go a long way to cutting them at the bottom.

But we need to do more. © Gordon Brown, used with permission.

This week, we pledged together to deepen our fair tax cuts.

To make them fairer still.Fairer than fair ( don't worry the majic pony's coming soon )

That means doing the most for those who have the least.Sorry are we taking less of peoples money (doing less) or doing more (hi I'm from the government and I'm hear to help) etc ?

It means making sure the richest pay more.Pips squeaking - ask Vince how well that worked for Labour in the 70's - he might remember. Hint try not at all.

And so aiming to make nine out of ten taxpayers better off. Ah the magic pony has arrived, lets all join hands and be happy at Nicks money for nothign scheme - are you sure you didn't work in the city Nick ?

I want this to be the most progressive - most redistributive - tax plan ever put forward by a British political party.Progressive and redistributive - sounds like a contradiction.

Using just a little of the money the government wastes every day WHat about the rest of our money the government wastes - go on ....

To help people in their everyday lives.

That doesn't mean cutting help for the poorest, of course.

It doesn't mean stopping vital investment in hospitals and schools.

It just means taking a cold, hard look at all government spending and asking a basic question:

Is it working?

Every family in Britain is tightening their belts for the hard times ahead.

It is time for government to tighten its belt too.

Labour has doubled government spending from £300bn a year to £600bn a year.( Which you've just told us you approved of under investing in public services ...)

That's 18,000 pounds a second.No - its 19,013 / second Nick your out by about £33 billion per year !!

They've taken, give or take a few, 16 million pounds of your money since I started speaking.

It'll be 38 million by the time I've finished.

Does anyone in this room believe every single pound is spent well?Or that you could even count it - let alone control it.

I don't.

And I think it's liberal to be sceptical.( I though you were saying were all born happy )

Sceptical that central, controlling government gets things right.

It's the Labour party that believes every pound spent by government is better than a pound spent by you or me.

We don't.

We believe ministers should spend money as carefully as if they'd borrowed it from a friend.No as carefully as if it was their own- but that would be a step too far for you eh Nick

We believe that tax is a means to an end and government should not take a penny more than it needs.tick - that's Conservative policy - all the time you opposed it,.

We believe returning money to people who need it is fair, liberal, and right.For crying out loud - its our money - it doesn't need returning - it needs leaving with the people who earn and own it !!!

The other parties say tax cuts aren't possible. The Conservatives know that the country is in a mess and that mess will need to be sorted first - but then we don't sell magic ponies like the Fib Dems do.

But that's because they're too flaky to take the tough choices to make tax cuts possible.No - the exact opposite is surely true

Too weak to trim back on wasteful spending.Where were you in the 80's ? Oh yes Europe ...

Too in hock to wealthy non-doms to threaten higher taxes for the rich.

Liberal Democrats are not afraid of tough choices.Repeat a lie often enough and people might believe you - but nah we know that's utter rubbish

My shadow cabinet is identifying £20bn of government spending that isn't working effectively.And someday - before I meet Jeremy Paxman again - they might tell me about it.

We need to ask ourselves:

When government has proved itself incapable of keeping people's data secure.

Why is it spending nearly thirteen billion pounds on a botched NHS IT system?tick

When our soldiers need inexpensive, off-the-shelf armoured vehicles today.tick

Why is government spending fourteen billion on over complex tanks that won't be ready for years?

When we want local government to respond to the needs of local people....

Why are they spending more than a billion pounds filling in forms for Whitehall inspectors? tick

Making these savings will mean we can afford to spend money on things that really matter.FOR GOODNESS SAKE - no ! It means you take less money away from people !!!!

Homes, care for the elderly, children.

Things that really make a difference.

And then cut taxes for the people who need it most.

I know with this approach - streamlined spending and targeted tax cuts © Gordon Brown, used with permission.- see Tax Credits, we can get our economy going again.

But I don't want to reignite the old one.

I want us to be the first country in the world to move to a new economy.

A green economy.= ie no economy at all

As well as risking the very future of our planet.Which is doomed anyway

Our need for dirty energy is crippling us economically.No its the cost of renewables and the absence of power generation capacity that will do that

There are growing links between climate change, biofuels, and rising food prices.Thanks to idiots like yourself

And inflation is fuelled. by fuel.( So lets get this straight - cost of fuel goes up - less gets used greener right ? But you want to make it cheaper which will make it eh less green... Duh)

One way or another, together we are going to have to use less energy.According to you plan it'll be by having less of an economy

And much less dirty energy.

It's the only way to stop the growing threat of disastrous climate change.

There must be no third runway at Heathrow, no expansion of Stansted, Yeh wreck the economy - that'll work

And for power stations - no Kingsnorth, no more dirty coal, no nuclear.Back to teepees in mid Wales with Lembit then

I want to see public transport expanded, with investment funded through charges on road haulage.Hello its the magic pony again

I want to see homes and businesses become energy efficient - saving money in the process.How liberal is it to tell people what to do like this ?

And I want a huge expansion of renewable energy - meeting and exceeding the commitments Labour has given up on.Magic Pony again

If we make the change now, Britain will lead the world on green technology.The white heat of technology ploy - © Gordon Brown , Harold Wilson

Driving growth through green collar jobs. © Gordon Brown

Achieving energy independence within the EU.Aka dependence on French nuclear power

Independence because our position on the international stage is weakened by the West's desperate hunger for fuel.

We cower in the shadow of countries we want to stand up to.

Because we're afraid they might turn off our lights.Actually your plan is going to achieve that all by itself

Just look at where we stand with Russia.

And in the Middle East.

Dependence on fossil fuels undermines the fight for human rights.If we don't trade with them then what leverage will we have exactly ?

It halts the onward march of democracy.

It's got to end.

Instead of basing foreign policy on the principle of "who's got the fuel".

We need to base it on the principles of justice. © Robin Cook - ethical foreign policy c1996

On our British values:

Freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Fair, and green.

This is the new economy we will build.Nope it will destroy the economy

But we need a new kind of government to go with it.

To put Britain on the right track for the future, we need to make government people-sized.

People-shaped . You what ?

I was talking to a father recently about how hard it is to find affordable childcare in the school holidays.

And he said.

Why can't we have extra child benefit in those holiday months when we need it the most?

And I was talking to a pensioner, too, who said:

I'd prefer to get my winter heating allowance in March, when I have to pay for my winter fuel.

Not in December when the money just disappears in the Christmas shopping bills.

Isn't it blindingly obvious once you think about it?

Benefits should be shaped around the needs of people and families, not bureaucrats.

And under the Liberal Democrats they will be.

Our health service needs to be people-shaped, too.

I want patients to have far more control over the care they get. © Gordon Brown - personalised ( not reformed ) public services

So people with long term conditions get to be part of designing the care they need. © Gordon Brown- to be fair to him.

Choosing what suits them - and making it work.

For mental health patients.

For pensioners in need of care.

For people with disabilities.

It works.

A couple of weeks ago in Sheffield, I met a wonderful woman called Katrina.

She's got three disabled sons -

The oldest is Jonathan, a charming, warm hearted young man of 19.

He can't walk or talk clearly, or feed himself alone.

He's had a breathing tube in his neck since he was a toddler.

Under a scheme the new Liberal Democrat council in Sheffield is extending.

Jonathan's just got his own individual budget and care plan.

Now he's doing work with a local charity, attending a music group, has his own personal assistant.

A child whose potential seemed so limited

Finally as a young man, engaged in life in a way he and his mother never thought possible.

Katrina told me with the biggest smile I've ever seen.

She said: We've gone from having nothing to having everything.

I want every child's needs would be taken this seriously.

What depresses me most about what Labour has done to our country...

Is that they've made it a place that's not fit for our children.

Children are inspirational.

Miriam and I can't wait to be parents again.Cleggover !

I love the way children see the world. That's why you love the Lib Dems clearly - home of naivety and a failure to understand the real world.

There was a great story I heard recently about a little girl, doing a painting in class.Haven't we finsihed yet ???

The teacher comes over and says - what are you painting?

And the girl says - God.

So the teacher says - But no-one one knows what God looks like.

The girl says - they will in a minute. Heard this years ago ..

Children don't see barriers.

When you're a child - everything is possible. Magic Ponies for example

So how can you not feel angry when you see what has been done to that hope and innocence.

One in three children growing up in poverty.

A million in cramped and unsafe homes where they don't get space to play.

More children in prison than any other country in Western Europe.

Our children are some of the most unhappy in the world.

We have to change this.

The journey starts in our schools.

We need to draw out the potential in every child

From every background.

Children who are struggling, or falling behind.

We must help them with extra support - one-to-one tuition or catch up classes.Actually the best answer is to correct the teaching approach so this isn't necessary

Funded by our "pupil premium" which targets extra cash at deprived children.( Hey Nick aren't you thinking of sending your kids to private school ? )

We can engage parents, too - giving them the power to set up schools if that's what their community needs.

Like parents did in Lambeth with help from a Liberal Democrat council.

Making education people-sized, people-shaped.

That means making sure there are different kinds of school.

To suit different kinds of children.

One size fits no-one.

The government has messed things up for this generation of children.

Criminalising, criticising children.

Fingerprinting children, instead of supporting them.

And they do down children, just as they treat us grown-ups as if we were still five year olds.

Needing to be checked up on, monitored, controlled.

We are the most spied upon country in the developed world.

A million - a million innocent people have their DNA on a criminal database.

More surveillance cameras than anywhere in the world.

Parents snooped on by council officials checking up on where children spend the night.

They're even putting tracking chips in our bins.

And for what?

We are still less safe than our European neighbours.

Too many young men are still caught up in a cycle of violence.

As Chris Huhne has so powerfully shown, our prisons have become colleges of crime.

They have taken our liberty from us and given us nothing in return.

Liberal Democrats will give our freedom back.

I don't just mean civil liberties.

Though we'd restore them.

I don't just mean human rights.

Though we would cherish them.

I mean allowing people.



To decide what's right for them.

And do it.

Because the government doesn't know what's best for us - and it never will.

I've talked about the new economy...

And the new kind of government.

That Liberal Democrats will create.

I want to talk briefly about the road we will travel together to get there.

Simply changing things around at the top will not work.

We saw that in 1997.

We saw it again in 2007.

You can change Prime Minister without changing Britain at all.

We need to transform politics.

Because unless we bring people in...

So everyone can take part.

Every change we need will fail.

The way Britain's run today.

Means the government doesn't have to listen to anyone.

Less than a quarter of people voted for Labour at the last election.

And yet they get to wield total control over all our lives.

What's incredible is that Labour and the Conservatives alike still say we are the mother of democracies.

What world are they living in?

In 2001 for the first time ever, more people didn't vote than voted for the winning party.

And when it happened, Labour and the Conservatives didn't pull out all the stops, they didn't go into crisis mode to fix it.

They sat back, and let it happen again in 2005.

Surely every rational person can agree - we've got to have something different?

When politicians are held in the same contempt as the chewing gum on the bottom of your shoe.

Shouldn't we try something new?

An end to big donations.Because ours all come from criminals - lets use some of that lovely tax payer money instead

Fewer MPs tick - especially Lib Dem ones

A parliament that actually holds the government to account.

No more fiddled expenses.

A fair voting system.

A politics that puts people first.

I want our politics to connect with people again.

That's why in the next nine months we'll knock on a million doors in Britain.

To speak - face to face - with the people we're asking to support us.

It's why tonight we're calling 250,000 people to hear their views on the challenges facing our country. Apparently this is illegal, and you criticised the SNP and Labour for doing int he past

It's why we're streamlining the party's decision making through the Bones Commission.

And it's why, ever since I became leader of our party, I've held open public meetings every couple of weeks or so. So you can discover what you now believe in like Magic Ponies and tax cuts

Where everyone's invited, and anyone can ask a question or raise an issue.

Real politics, real passion, real people.

I can't tell you every step on the road for us as a party.

But I can tell you where we're headed.

Government.Nope I think not

We grow every year.

We've been in government in Scotland. In Wales.But not any more

We run more big cities in England than any other party.

At the last General Election we won 6 million votes, more than any other liberal party in Europe.

Together we will double our MPs in Westminster.No you won't, you going to lose at least half

And at the next general election we'll take a giant leap towards that goal. Magic Pony time again.

We can do it because we are the vanguard of British politics.

We have been at the forefront of a revolution in ideas.

The first to fight for women's rights, gay rights, human rights.

The first to understand the problem of climate change.That was Mrs Thatcher - but you never paid close attention to her real policies did you ?

The first to see the economic crisis on the horizon.Rubbish

The first to see the vital role of liberal interventionism in international affairs.You what ?

And the first to see its limits - and oppose the illegal invasion of Iraq.

We are a powerful party.

We are getting stronger.

And our ideas are the right ones to get Britain back on track.

Remember 1997.

Things can only get better?

We were told our country would be a success - and no-one would be left behind.

It didn't happen. New Labour failed.

But there is a new, New Labour on the block.

Blue Labour: the Conservative party. © BNP

Let our country not be fooled again.Then don't stand for office then !!

If you were drawn to Labour in the 1990s.We'd like to hear from people who are easily taken in please

Because you believed in a better future.So you might be fooled by the Fib Dems - great

Because you were filled with hope that things would get better.

Join us. We are the ones who can make it happen.

Labour is finished. It's over.If only - unfortunately I doubt this is true

The Liberal Democrats are now the only party that can deliver social justice.Rubbish

The only choice for anyone who wants a fairer Britain.Lies

A party that will put money back in the pockets of ordinary families.No

A party that will build a stable, green economy for each and every one of us.Destroy the economy more like - how will it work with zero power generation capacity ?

A party that will change politics so that every person counts.Of course what your really famous for is changing politics depending on which street you on.

The Liberal Democrats.

Join us, and make it happen.Is this the catch phrase for the new Harry Potter movie perchance ? Because the realism's all there Nick - you forgot to promise the Magicpony that can do spells.