Peter Hoskin

Clegg sets out his stall for 2012

Clegg sets out his stall for 2012
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Under cover of discussing the Open Society and its enemies, Nick Clegg today set out his personal agenda for the next year of this government. Indeed, Clegg's speech to Demos earlier was perhaps the purest distillation of his politics since the big set-piece number he delivered at the Lib Dem conference in 2008. It contained many of the same themes as that earlier speech: ‘social mobility’, ‘civil liberties’, and ‘democracy’. And it added a couple more for good measure: ‘political pluralism’ and ‘internationalism’. The Deputy Prime Minister described these five political impulses as ‘the source of my liberalism’.

As for the specifics, there was Tory-baiting to be found in Clegg's much previewed attack on recognising marriage in the tax system, as well as in his criticism of those who would choose ‘populism, insularity, separatism,’ etc. But a heavier emphasis was placed on what Clegg hopes to achieve, policy-wise, within the coalition. Some of this, he suggested, is already being implemented; such as the localism agenda, which he rightly described as ‘postcode democracy’, rather than a ‘postcode lottery’.* Yet there are other areas where he would like to see further action, foremost among them Lords reform. As Clegg put it:

‘The Lords is perhaps the most potent symbol of a closed society. Because we are in the process of building support for a Lords reform package, I am sometimes advised not to be too outspoken on this issue. But I’m afraid this is one boat that urgently needs rocking.’ 

blogged about yesterday

*Incidentally, this attitude towards localism is one that Clegg shares with George Osborne.