A copy of Nick Clegg's speech to his conference today can be found here - with the proviso that it should be checked against delivery. (seemed fairly accurate compared to what I heard - yes, ok sick me, I did listen to it) Picking out certain points in that speech raises serious worries about Clegg's thought processes and reasoning.
"It’s not smaller government I believe in. It’s a different kind of government: a liberating government. This government will transform the state. Reversing generations of centralisation. Putting power into people’s hands. Because the job of government is not to run people’s lives. It is to help people to run their own."
It is how the Coalition will transform the state that concerns me; it is the Coalition's belief that we, the people, need help to run our own lives. It is necessary to read David Cameron's speech on his Big Society to fully understand how this help will be delivered. Putting to one side his obvious belief in the thesis put forward in the Spirit Level, it is the central government 'control' in how that help is to be delivered that is worrying as it shows once again that no government will willingly give up a power that it has usurped.
"So yes, in the fight against poverty, inequality, social breakdown and injustice I do want to move from state action to social action. But I see a powerful role for government in helping to engineer that shift. Let me put it more plainly: we must use the state to remake society.........But the state must go further than enabling these opportunities. It must actively help people take advantage of them. Our enabling reforms depend for their success on a social response: and that is not something we can leave to chance......And if we are to break the culture of charities and social bodies being dependent on the state for hand-outs we need to look at how government can use loans alongside grants to help make them more sustainable and effective......" (my emphasis)
It is not necessary to remind readers that he who controls the purse strings also controls how any project or plan is put into effect. It is also apparent that this is in direct contrast with the statement that Andrew Stunnell has made, that:
"We don't presume to know more than local people about how their area should be run.........We're not going to be micromanaging, second guessing and interfering in local affairs anymore."
Moving on, later in Clegg's speech comes this passage:
".........A foreign policy forged in George Bush’s White House.........."
There is only one question that should be put to Nick Clegg in response to that statement. Nick, please explain how a foreign policy forged in George Bush's White House differs to a foreign policy forged in the EU's Berlaymont? Answers on the back of a postage stamp please Nick, as the letters 'N', 'O', 'N' 'E' just about fit!
Unbiased as I am (and I can but hope you detected the sarcasm in those four words?) I felt the speech was extremely poor and the delivery abysmal, bearing in mind this was from a man who is Leader of his party and also Deputy Prime Minister.