Monday, October 29, 2007

Nick And Me (Michael Moore(s) Not Included)

I've just got back home from Nick Clegg's Welsh campaign launch in Swansea, and in between being impressed by his pronunciation of Cymru Fydd, I've really been reminded why I'm voting for Nick.

To explain, I first met Nick in December 2005 at a proto-Pizza And Politics event organised by Sheffield University Lib Dems. He'd drawn quite a crowd, with Brummies and Londoners joining those of us who'd crossed the
Pennines, and to kick off we went round the group describing our formative political experiences. As we went round, the story was pretty consistent; Iraq showed me I was a liberal, politics at college showed me I was a liberal, I always knew I was a liberal...

I got to go last, and of course I didn't consider myself a liberal; I was very clear that I was a centre-left progressive with a particular interest in electoral reform whose attraction to the party was the democrat part of the title. Never one to shy away from my politics, however, I openly and honestly declared where I was coming from.

I'd met MPs before, of course, but Nick was the first Orange Booker I'd encountered. I was therefore somewhat wary, expecting perhaps to be disappointed by a doctrinaire right-winger. And make no bones about it, Nick is an economic liberal with serious intellectual credentials.

But Nick did something that I'd never seen an economic liberal do before; he explained how his economics achieved his social goals. Where many saw economic liberalism as something we had to embrace because we were liberals and it was in the name, Nick put it to use.

For me, above everything, above all the intellectual arguments about liberalism, conservatism, authoritarianism, etc. this leadership election must be about communication. We have a body of policy and we know that it is massively superior to the drivel that Brown and Cameron will trot out in the next two years. What we must fight off now is the concept the electorate has of our policy, namely, "oh, but you'll never be in power so you don't have to worry about what you say, it's all just pipe dreams".

In reality, we have never had a stronger case against both parties, that years of their ideas have not worked and that our ideas, tried and tested around the world, can make a real difference. I have no doubt that Nick is the candidate best equipped to make that case and take us forward, and I would urge everyone to lend him their support.

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