Clegg is on message but is anyone listening?

Earlier today, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was read, by a former member of his party, what is written on the back of every Lib Dem membership card.

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”

Specifically he was asked, live on LBC radio, how he can reconcile this government’s attacks on the poorest within society with these stated aims of the Lib Dems.

Clegg responded that he was ‘immensely proud’ and drew listeners’ attention to the changes in income tax. A policy which the party claims will cut “£600 from your income tax bill”.

Clegg’s claim misses the wider picture and flies in face of the TUC’s suggestion that the UK’s poorest families are facing a 30% reduction in income by 2017. It ignores evidence put forward recently by the Charted Institute of Housing that says 400,000 of the poorest families are losing out because of the government’s new benefits system.

Indeed, I am sure that these facts and figures go some way to explain why ‘John’ – the former Lib Dem County Councillor who rang LBC this morning – said he was ‘ashamed’ of the party.

Clearly on this answer, John and I disagreed with Clegg. Did we expect anything else though? Did we expect Clegg to suddenly condemn the coalition? Of course not. Clegg is in this coalition for the long haul.

Was there anything in the Q & A that I agreed with? Well, there was one answer.

Q: If you had to take one [Tory] for a drink?

A: Ken Clarke

Nick and Ken could talk about what it feels like to be ignored at Cabinet meetings…

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