Lib Dems stopped 16 ‘heartless plans’, Clegg tells party delegates
Party leader appeals to voters to back its involvement in 2015 coalition government
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg (left) with his wife, Miriam Gonzales Durantez, after he gave the keynote speech at his party’s annual conference in Glasgow yesterday. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA Wire
Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg yesterday urged British voters to back his party’s involvement in another House of Commons coalition after 2015, saying: “We’re not finished yet.”
Listing the “endless battles” fought with the Conservatives over the past three years, Mr Clegg told delegates to the party’s annual conference, in Glasgow, that the Lib Dems had stopped 16 “heartless” plans.
“The absolute worst thing to do would be to give the keys to No 10 to a single-party government – Labour or the Conservatives,” the deputy prime minister said.
“All of the sacrifices made by the British people – the pay freezes, the spending cuts, the lost jobs, the daily grind of austerity – all of that would be for nothing,” he said.
“Labour would wreck the recovery. The Conservatives would give us the wrong kind of recovery. Only the Liberal Democrats can finish the job and finish it in a way that is fair.”
However, an opinion poll conducted by ComRes yesterday reported that two-thirds of British voters are not persuaded about coalition, saying they would prefer single-party government in two years’ time. Only one in 10 disagreed.
Even if faced with a hung parliament, 51 per cent said they would prefer a minority government — with just one in five saying they would then be happy to see another coalition formed.
“The Liberal Democrats don’t want to go back to the opposition benches, because we aren’t done yet. I have spent my entire life watching the other two mess it up,” Mr Clegg said.
“We cannot stand idly by and let them do it all over again. We are the only party that can finish the job of economic recovery, but finish it fairly.”
Over the last few days in Scotland, Mr Clegg and other senior party figures have repeatedly refused to identify their preferred coalition partner after 2015.
Constant “breathless speculation” about coalition partners missed the point, Mr Clegg said, adding that he did not “ask myself who I’d be most comfortable with, as if I was buying a new sofa”.
Voters and no one else would would decide the election outcome, he said: “Not me, not you: the people.”