As it happened: Clegg's speech

By Brian Wheeler

1358 That wraps up our live text coverage of Nick Clegg's big speech. It was short by party conference standards, at 38 minutes, and was delivered using an autocue rather than notes. The delegates seemed to like it - it received a four minute standing ovation - but some pundits seem to feel Mr Clegg has more work to do to convince the party that tax cuts are the way ahead. Click the link below to watch or read the whole speech.

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1339 Via e-mail "He talked about other countries "turning off our lights" if we stand up to them. With talk of getting rid of coal and nuclear, the only person aiming to turn off the lights in Nick Clegg. Kinnock has passed the baton, Ollie, Kent, United Kingdom

Giving a speech is easy, how do you know he will acually DO anything that he has spoken about? Labour certainly didn't. Claire, London, United Kingdom

1337 Mr Clegg's big speech has been somewhat overshadowed on the lunchtime news bulletins by the continuing turmoil in the banking sector.

1335 The Liberal Democrats' chief executive Lord Rennard defended the party's plan to call 250,000 homes in marginal seats using an automated voice message, despite criticising similar practices by Labour and the SNP in the past. He told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme what they were doing was "quite different". He said Labour was out of touch and "not listening", while the Lib Dems wanted to hear what people thought.

1322 Via e-mail:
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"I thought his speech was quite good until he said there will be no more nuclear power - how does he hope to reduce dependancy on rogue nations and fossil fuels when he thinks we can close down all our coal and gas power plants too? It's nonsense - we cannot only rely on windpower and solar and certainly not ovenight. I mean, my so-called re-chargeable batttery for my phone only lasts 2 days! He's just a fantasist and has lost my vote on this alone (despite talking good sense on tax issues), Stevie, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

Reeta Chakrabarti
1317 The post-mortem continues. The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti thinks Mr Clegg was "daring" in his decision to refer to the party being in government. She says: "Lib Dem leaders have tended to shy away from any direct reference to power since David Steel was so mocked after telling his activists in 1981 to return to their constituencies and prepare for government. Nick Clegg was more subtle: "I can tell you where we're headed. Government. Sober heads within the party will no doubt have raised an eyebrow at that."

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1306 Via email: "This speech is brilliant. Intelligent. Sensible. Well communicated. His attacks on Brown and Cameron were illuminating. For the first time I considered him a serious prime minister prospect," Terry Richardson, London
"Naive, cheesy and irrelevant - as they are too small to gain power!", Polaris

1258 Mr Clegg obviously felt he had to attack the Tories to deflect claims he is lurching to the right. His gag writers went to town on David Cameron. But will the delegates be convinced? They seemed more pleased with traditional Lib Dem fare - such as concerns about nuclear power and climate change.

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1254 Via e-mail: "It's easy for Nick Clegg. The Lib Dems are so far from reaching government he can say anything he wants, safe in the knowledge that he will never have to deliver what he promises," Cheryl.

"Nick Clegg has his head in the clouds and should try to understand what the middle class wants from these overpaid and overated MPs,"Doug Pomphrey.

Nick Robinson
1248 The applause in the hall dies down. Nick Robinson says the delegates were "a bit puzzled" by much of the speech - particularly the tax cutting strategy. There was silence in the hall during that part - but the delegates seem prepared to go with Mr Clegg as he is their new leader and their hero Vince Cable backs the changes.

1245 Mr Clegg soaks up the acclaim, hugging senior party colleagues on the front row.

1243 A standing ovation as he reaches the climax - "Join us and make it happen".

Prolonged applause
1242 They love this line: "Labour is finished - it's over. The Liberal Democrats are now the only party that can deliver social justice."

1241 Applause for a mention of the "illegal invasion of Iraq". He is gearing up for the finale now. "New Labour failed - but there is a new New Labour on the block - The Conservative Party."

1238 Via e-mail "The Lib Dems are like the shop that can offer goods at a lower price than anybody else, but never has anything in stock. They can make all the promises they want, when they know they won't have to deliver. Easy politics or what?," Peter

1237 Civil liberties now - "the government doesn't know what's best for us and never will!".
1234 A long section on children, drawing on his own experience as a father: "Children are inspirational. Miriam and I can't wait to be parents again." It seems to go down well in the hall.

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1230 Via e-mail: "If I get a call at 7.00 pm tonight from the Lib-Dems, they will get the same prickly treatment as others who cold call me trying to sell me something or telling me I have won a holiday!," dynamicMaureen.

Prolonged applause
1227 Climate change now and a big round of applause when he says no more third runway at Heathrow, "no more dirty coal, no nuclear".

1222 Decent applause as he reaches the punchline of the tax section - "I want this to be the most progressive - most redistributive - tax plan ever put forward by a British political party".

1219 Tax cuts now - this is the hard part for Mr Clegg. The delegates listen in silence as he explains his radical shift in policy. "Liberal Democrats have called for tax rises in the past. When what Britain needed most of all was more investment in our public services. We were right to do so. But what hard-up families need most of all today is food on the table, petrol in the car, and warmth in their homes."

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1218 Cheers again for Vince Cable - the man who "had the wisdom and foresight" to foresee the credit crunch.

1217 He is turning to his own vision now - people are basically good and "most people, most of the time, will do the right things". But Gordon Brown and David Cameron are pessimists who condescend to people.

1215 He is really getting into his stride now - with yet more attacks on Cameron, accusing him of "arrogance" and "born to rule conceit", saying the Tory leader is "already picking out the curtains for Number 10".

1210 The jokes keep on coming. David Cameron is the "Andrex puppy of British politics - A cuddly symbol, perhaps. But fundamentally irrelevant to the product he's promoting".

1209 More applause as he lays into Labour, accusing them of not caring about people being affected by the credit crunch. "They are so desperate to protect their own jobs to protect other people's," says Mr Clegg. "They are the living dead -They are a Zombie government. A cross between Shaun of the Dead and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue."

1207 First round of applause after he praises Vince Cable - calling him "a twinkle-toed economic prophet".

1205 Clegg enters to a standing ovation - he's speaking without notes!

1201 The build-up in the hall starts with a film about Nick Clegg.

1158 BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson says Mr Clegg has effectively been sharing the party leadership with Vince Cable, who is very popular with the membership. The challenge for Mr Clegg in his speech is to hammer home the message that the Lib Dems are now a tax cutting party, adds Mr Robinson on The Daily Politics.

1151 Nick Clegg strolled down the hill from the conference hotel, with wife Miriam at his side, a few minutes ago and is now waiting to go on stage at the Bournemouth International Centre, as delegates debate ID cards.

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1144 You can follow the speech as it happens as well as sending in your own comments, the best of which we will publish here.

1143 Welcome to our live coverage of Nick Clegg's first speech to the Lib Dem conference as party leader.

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