Few things on the internet are as frustrating as a broken link to something you would like to read. This sad fate has befallen many of Nick Clegg’s early speeches, so I thought I could provide a useful service by digging them out from the Wayback Machine and posting them on my blog.
I joined the Lib Dems in October 2007, just before Menzies Campbell announced his resignation as Leader. During the leadership campaign I was impressed by Nick Clegg’s speeches, which seemed to me to engage with liberalism as an ideology. I still think those speeches are worth reading, both for that reason and because they are a document of how Nick thought before the 2010 general election and the Coalition that followed.
The first speech in the archive is also Nick’s first speech as party leader, given to a one-day member’s conference called in London in January 2008 to discuss what the Lib Dem policy on public services should be in the next election. In it Nick argued for empowering citizens through opening up the provision of public services, such as by allowing free schools. While this policy was heavily watered down in the party’s internal decisionmaking and is now (ironically) being implemented by a Conservative government minister, Nick’s demand that state funding of services should be focused on attacking inequalities is now part of Lib Dem and Coalition policy as the Pupil Premium.
The speech made quite a splash in the media and the blogosphere at the time, as this useful link post by Paul Walter shows. Andy Strange wrote a perceptive post about the speech and the manifesto conference as a whole (which happened to be the first federal party event I attended). It’s interesting to revisit these responses in the light of what has happened since.
Please don’t hesitate to comment here or contact me if you would like to see any particular speech of Nick’s in the archive. I will be adding speeches from time to time, so please subscribe to the blog to be the first to see the new additions.