Party Leader Nick Clegg rounded off the recent Liberal Democrat conference in Harrogate with a call to the country to break out of the failed cycle of Labour/Conservative governments.
“A never-ending cycle of red-blue, blue-red government has got us into this mess,” said Nick. “It is never going to get us out. Try something new. Now is the time to think big. If you want better, choose different. Choose the Liberal Democrats”.
On the economic crisis, Nick said that
the £12.5 billion used to pay for the VAT giveaway would be better used to created nearly 100,000 new green jobs;
banks should be given a choice – stick to ordinary consumer business like savings and mortgages and be protected by the taxpayer or take the “high risk route”, in which case they would not be allowed to get involved in high street services, but would be denied public cash if they got into trouble;
bankers responsible for the crisis should be brought to account and disqualified from holding any future directorships.
Nick cautioned that economic turmoil breeds xenophobia and protectionism. “We mustn’t turn in on ourselves,” he warned, hitting out at Gordon Brown for lecturing the US Congress on protectionism when he uses protectionist rhetoric himself.
He accused the Prime Minister of failing to challenge protectionism in Europe. The European Union, said Nick, is our best bet in an unsafe world – to push forward the international institutions needed to regulate global capitalism, to secure peace, human rights and to stop climate change. He said that was what Liberal Democrat MEPs are fighting for, and they deserved to be re-elected in greater numbers in June.
Summarising what makes the party different, Nick said, “We are the only party who will put money into people’s pockets with fair tax cuts. The only party to offer universal childcare and smaller classes in our primary schools. The only party who would use Gordon Brown’s wasted billions to create thousands of jobs today by investing in homes, hospitals, schools and public transport to build the green economy of tomorrow. The only party that will rebuild the jobs, homes and hopes this recession has destroyed.”
Local campaigner Qurban Hussain said, “Harrogate was a great conference. Nick spoke with great passion and his message will strike a chord with people in Luton.
“He made it clear that the country cannot go back to the boom and bust of the past and that we must make a clean start. Only the Liberal Democrats can provide that.”