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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 December 2007, 09:29 GMT
Clegg to focus party on education
Nick Clegg
Nick Clegg won a narrow victory in the Lib Dem leadership race
New Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has described education as his "biggest enthusiasm" in politics.

He said the UK could look at some of the best practice in Europe for running its education system.

These should be any method that "unlocks aspiration, unlocks the potential of children", he said.

The 40-year-old ex-journalist and former Euro MP beat Chris Huhne in a leadership contest to become the party's third leader in two years.

He told Radio 4's Today programme: "We could look at some of the best practice elsewhere in Europe.

Ease and intellect are no guarantee that he will push his party to greater success
Laura Kuenssberg, BBC News

"I think the fact we are now condemning, still, despite all the investment from New Labour, thousands and thousands of children who are born into poverty to a lifetime of poverty where their education doesn't seem to shift that in any way, I think is an absolute indictment of the way things have been run."

Mr Clegg also said he accepted that it was a "real challenge for me to articulate" what the Liberal alternative was to the current government.

He said: "The top down centralising approach to all areas of public policy, the way we run our schools, the way we run local government, the way we run our hospitals... is broke.

"The two other major parties, the Conservative and Labour parties, don't really realise that yet - they are skating on thin ice.''

The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg said Mr Clegg would be hoping to adopt - and stick to - policies that find favour with the public, and lend his party a coherent identity.

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