Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg defends party’s record in government
PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 March 2011 | UPDATED: 13:46 07 March 2011
LIB DEM leader Nick Clegg claimed the electorate can make its own mind up about the performance of his party as part of the coalition, just hours before they suffered a crushing defeat at the polls.
Speaking exclusively to Herts Advertiser editor Matt Adams following a talk to St Albans Liberal Democrats last Thursday, the Deputy Prime Minister explained that although a coalition with the Tories was necessary, both parties maintained their independent identities: “This is a coalition because the British people said that no party won an outright victory, so we had to come together to sort the mess out. Two parties had to come together to sort out the mess left by one. That doesn’t mean that we suddenly become the same or mutate into one another, it’s not a merger, it’s a coalition. We have different identities, we have different views on things.”
Mr Clegg rejected suggestions that the party would be lumped together with the Conservatives in people’s views on the government’s performance, unaware at the time that the Liberal Democrats would receive a crushing defeat in the Barnsley by-election that day, polling an abysmal sixth place behind both the BNP and UKIP.
“No I don’t agree with that. I think people actually outside politics find it relatively easy to understand. Just as in everyday life, in politics sometimes you work with people you don’t necessarily agree with all the time, but you work with them nonetheless.
“I think equally if you look at some of the things we’ve been doing and delivering in government, it’s fairly obvious to people what the Lib Dems think. Extra money for kids in school, which we campaigned on before the election, is now being delivered. In a few weeks time every pensioner in this area will get an absolute guarantee that their pension is going to go up by earnings, or by inflation or by two and a half per cent, whichever one is higher. That’s a triple-locked guarantee of something that we Lib Dems first campaigned on, finally giving decent dignity in old age. You’re going to have lots of these people in the local area, in fact every basic rate taxpayer here will find they get £200 back in their pocket because of a tax cut that we’re giving in April because we’re lifting the point at which you start paying income tax by £4,000. So I think we need to explain the things that we campaigned on before and what we’re now delivering.”
* More from the Herts Advertiser’s exclusive interview with the Deputy Prime Minister to follow over the next few days. And read our full report on Nick Clegg’s visit to St Albans in the Herts Advertiser on March 10.
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