Page last updated at 13:52 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 14:52 UK

The Full Story: Clegg's speech


Nick Clegg's conference speech in full

By Emma Griffiths

1633 And that's it for this week's live coverage - thanks for joining us and to those who have tweeted, texted or emailed in. Next week it will be Gordon Brown's turn to address his party members in Brighton for the last annual conference before the next general election - the week after it's David Cameron's turn for the Tories. Hope you can join us then.

1630 The Tories have got their response in early - party chairman Eric Pickles, who has been accused of "lovebombing" Lib Dem supporters to try to persuade them to switch sides, said: "Nick Clegg says he wants to be prime minister but I listened to his speech and still can't discover a reason for voters to choose him over David Cameron." He says only the Tories offer the chance of "a progressive, liberal government."

1624 Another fact for you - the word "change" was mentioned 38 times during the speech - maybe Mr Clegg did have President Obama's successful campaign slogan in mind. Looks like the Lib Dems will be fighting it out with the Tories to be the party of "change" come the election

BBCLauraK tweets:Evan Harris, sometime Clegg critic, says speech was 'great not good' Read BBCLauraK's tweets.

DCPlod tweets:Clegg sounds EXACTLY like David Cameron. His voice does, anyway. Is this why the Tories wanted to team up with them? Read DCPlod's tweets.

1622 Sir Menzies thinks there were "echoes of Barack Obama" in the speech - he's talking about the "real change" stuff, not the fact they were speaking at the same time.

1622 A couple of speech facts from a BBC colleague of mine, for those of you interested in this type of thing. We think the standing ovation lasted three minutes 14 seconds, while the speech itself lasted 47 minutes 50 seconds.

1621 Sir Menzies Campbell - who Mr Clegg replaced as leader - tells the BBC his successor was "leading from the front". Lib Dem frontbencher Danny Alexander says the point of the speech was to spell out that any cuts were being done for a purpose - to make the country fairer. He says the speech showed confidence and ambition.

1621 The BBC's Jon Sopel notes that the biggest applause was reserved for the Lib Dems' opposition to the war in Iraq - something that happened years ago - while the party has to look forward to the next election

magnifying glass
1618 We're getting ready to wrap up now. Here's the full text of Nick Clegg's speech, with BBC News channel chief political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg's analysis added to it.

1613 Mr Hughes - who is sporting a very bright green tie - says the principles are clear, the Tories offer "fake change" while the Lib Dems offer "real change"

1612 Former party president Simon Hughes says he thought the themes were "clear". The BBC's John Pienaar notes there was no mention of tuition fees and only a small mention of the "mansion tax" - it looked as though he was ducking those a little, he adds

e-mail sent in by reader
It's a shame so many people think the lib dems stand no chance. It says alot about our electoral system when there is only room for two dominant political parties. It is our unwillingness to vote beyond Labour or Conservative that ruins the whole voting process and our democracy.
Martin, Birkenhead, United Kingdom

1610 Was it a problem that there was no mention of tuition fees - a thorny subject this week for Mr Clegg in the speech? Members collared by the Daily Politics after the speech appear to think not.

1609 Michael White, from the Guardian, tells the Andrew Neil hosted show that he thinks Mr Clegg tried to squeeze too much into the speech.

1608 On BBC Two's Daily Politics, commentators are discussing some of Mr Clegg's proposals. Sam Coates from the Times said Mr Clegg had moved away from the "savage cuts" language.

e-mail sent in by reader
Doom and gloom maybe, but better that than bringing the deficit to 175 Billion a la labour, or ignoring the issue like the conservatives. Finally some straight talking from one of the mainstream parties!
Colin, London

Tudortweet tweets:Addresses wider audience. Don't vote Conservative to ditch labour, vote for us. Ends. Still low-key. Read Tudortweet's tweets.

1605 Not sure what the official clap count will be but it's been well over a minute by my reckoning. Mr Clegg is shaking hands with some of the Gurkhas who have come along to Bournemouth. A big wave from Mr Clegg and his wife as they leave the hall and the music fades out.

e-mail sent in by reader
He's a darn sight more likeable than both of the other party leaders. Gordon Brown and Labour are finished - and deserve to be - and David Cameron still isn't coming up with the consistent policies. And large parts of his party disagree with him. The Lib Dems have good leaders and a new, fresh team. Give them a chance.
David, London

1602 Nick Clegg signs off with a plea to voters to "choose the party that is different, choose the Liberal Democrats". The hall is on its feet for a standing ovation. Mr Clegg kisses his wife as he leaves the stage and gives Ming Campbell and Danny Alexander a hug each as he makes his way past his frontbench team.

e-mail sent in by reader
Mr Clegg speaks a great deal of sense, its a real shame they have no real chance in British politics.
Benjamin Glossop, Derbyshire

To Lee (Sttingbourne) - what he is telling you is that you will pay less tax on ever penny you've ever earnt. He's saying if you can afford should pay more.
John Stiller, Birmingham

1600 Mr Clegg says the Liberal Democrats "carry the torch of progress now" and says Labour "is lost". The Tories only offer "fake change" - he says.

1559 Mr Clegg tells voters not to assume the Tories are the only option. "You don't think we're contenders? I urge you to think again," he tells voters, then in a risky move, he adds: "If you don't want big change in Britain, then don't vote for us. But if you like what you hear .. vote Liberal Democrat". The next election will be a "vital moment" in British history, he says.

kyletaylor812 tweets:This is no key note, this is Clegg's dream from last night Read kyletaylor812's tweets

From BBC News channel chief political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg: This final part of the speech seems to be a direct appeal to voters - Clegg is not talking to the hall here, he's talking the people he hopes will be watching his speech at home. Read BBCLauraK's tweets.

1557 Another "real change for Britain" reference - seems like a campaign slogan is coming on. Ed Davey would be an "outstanding" foreign secretary, he says.

e-mail sent in by reader
Isn't this roll-call of a Lib Dem Cabinet pushing it a little too far?; the Lib Dems aren't an alternative government but rather a (sometimes effective) lobbying group.
John Ludlow, Beaconsfield, Bucks

1556 Mr Clegg has been going for 40 minutes now. He's turned his attention to climate change and says Labour has "let us down internationally" and has "undermined Britain in the world". The Tories would pursue an "insular" foreign policy - he says William Hague stresses the importance of English-speaking countries at a time when China and India are on the rise. Just because the hotel receptionist speaks English doesn't mean everyone does, he tells Mr Hague.

e-mail sent in by reader
Andy, London - I completely disagree, he is likeable - it's his best quality. But he is still just a lightweight, he just doesn't have the gravitas of a future PM.
Kris, Hertfordshire

e-mail sent in by reader
Nick Clegg is telling me not to work hard and buy a big house when I can afford it because he will hit me with more tax; even though I've paid tax on every penny I've ever earnt.
Lee, Sttingbourne

e-mail sent in by reader
I have been reading the comments about Nick's speech and there is a lot of unsubstantiated "bah humbag" attitude, which I interpret as "close minded". I think Nick is brilliant!
Elliot, London

1554 Rattling through the various members of a potential future cabinet, and describing what they'd do in their first day in office - he notes former party president Simon Hughes had faced down "death threats to bring a killer to justice". Crikey. So he'd have the nerve and drive to push forward environmental policy, says Mr Clegg.

1552 A wave at Chris Huhne as Mr Clegg goes through a "liberal Democrat cabinet", which he has noted may include "the odd heated meeting". Mr Huhne would look "sternly over his glasses" at any bureaucrats refusing to tow the line, he says.

Vince Cable
1551 Vince Cable gets his third or fourth name check - I've lost count, but it's a crowd pleaser in the hall, despite the flak he apparently has been getting from the party's MPs over his mansion tax plan.

1550 Mr Clegg notes a bit of uneasiness on the front row at the "safe seats" comment - he assures his own MPs he wasn't talking about them - to some chuckles.

1549 Mr Clegg moves onto the issue of MPs' expenses and says the other parties can't be trusted to clean up politics. His reference to "fair votes for everyone" - the Lib Dems want the voting system changed - goes down well. "We must do away with safe seats," he says.

Laura Kuenssberg
1548 From BBC News Channel chief political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg: Mr Clegg goes through the party's tax plans. He wants people to believe the Lib Dems tax changes would make the whole system fairer. He hopes the plan to take 4 million people on low incomes out of paying tax altogether will appeal in those constituencies up and down the country where people who voted Labour in 1997 but have been disappointed by their performance in government. But one of the memories of this week will be the front bench team's unhappiness about not being consulted over the planned property tax. Read BBCLauraK's tweets.

1547 Mr Clegg is moving onto tax now - an issue that has proved difficult for him this week. He has mentioned the so-called "mansion tax" - although he doesn't call it that. He says people in big houses who live rich lifestyles will "pay more" - "that is fair" he says - to applause.

e-mail sent in by reader
Nick Clegg talks about pay cuts at the top level but what about what's happening in Leeds? The Lib Dem leader of the council is cutting the wages of bin men by up to £6,000 - bin men could see their wages cut from £18,000 to £12,000 - not exactly hitting the high level earners.
Harpreet, Yorkshire

e-mail sent in by reader
Nick Clegg just isn't very likeable - comes across quite arrogant, he's not really doing anything to change that today
Andy, London

1545 A personal anecdote from Mr Clegg as he relates how his seven-year-old son has started writing letters and doesn't understand why the Queen hasn't written back yet. It came after a point about the less bright children of wealthy parents overtaking the brighter children of poorer parents by the age of seven.

1543 Mr Clegg is outlining some plans to tackle youth unemployment - including a "paid internship" on £55 a week to give people experience.

1542 "If it's between 15p off a cinema ticket and a decent future I know what we should choose," he says - which goes down very well in the hall.

applause icon
1541 The speech turns to young people and the problems they face with debt and unemployment: "I will not let you down," he pledges. He says young people should not be unemployed for more than 90 days before a Lib Dem government would find them work or training. Sounds like a pledge. Lots of clapping as Mr Clegg says he would scrap the temporary VAT cut to pay to "invest in young people's futures".

1539 In a choice between protecting pay discipline and mass redundancies protecting jobs "must come first" - he says

1538 Mr Clegg is still talking about making savings - Lib Dem members listen quietly as he talks about reforming public sector pensions. But there is applause as he says it is "only right" for "the broadest shoulders to take the most weight"

1536 In a nod to those who have criticised his use of the word "savage" when talking about cuts, he says he knows it doesn't always "feel comfortable" to talk about cuts. Taking difficult decisions is the "price of fairness" he says. There is applause but a quick scan of the audience shows not everyone is clapping

Tudortweet tweets:'Progressive austerity' will need a bit of unpacking for public consumption. Read Tudortweet's tweets.

1535 Cutting Trident submarines from four to three - as floated by the PM at the UN today - is welcomed by Mr Clegg, but he says "no" to a "like for like replacement" - this gets a round of applause

OxfordSpring tweets:Clegg's talk of public spending is where he will get into trouble. Can he persuade his party of the necessary belt-tightening? Read OxfordSpring's tweets.

1535 Mr Clegg says he will not "salami slice budgets like Labour and the Conservatives" - saying voters know you can't save billions by "using fewer paperclips". He says he will cancel things that don't work to protect the important things. "That is progressive austerity" he says.

e-mail sent in by reader
This chap will never be in power, I just don't see the point of the LibDems at all. I'm sorry I would love to because I think the other two 'main' parties are a total waste of time but seriously - no-one's going to vote these guys they're not credible - sad but true.
Mike, Bristol

Laura Kuenssberg
From BBC chief political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg: Progressive austerity - perhaps not the most easily understandable phrase for members of the public. What the Lib Dem leader means we're told, is that while he would cut public spending, he would do it fairly - but it's not exactly a message of hope for voters. Members of the front bench may well grimace at this bit - Steve Webb, their work and pensions spokesman yesterday warned against the party selling 'gloom'. Read BBCLauraK's tweets.

OxfordSpring tweets:Camera keeps looking at Vince and Paddy- makes Clegg look so young, inexperienced and energised (?) Read OxfordSpring's tweets.

1532 Now he's moving onto controversial territory - the spending cuts suggestion. The audience is quiet when he says the previous pledges were right "for an age of plenty" but now something else is needed.

Tudortweet tweets:Oh dear. Early jokey attack on David Cameron. Conservative script-writers sharpen pens and knives ... Read Tudortweet's tweets.

1531 Mr Clegg's pops at the Tories are going down well in the conference hall. He finishes his attack by calling them "hollow" and offering only "an illusion of change" - the Tories are making an effort to poach Lib Dem voters.

1530 A roll call of former leaders is appreciated by the audience - although Mr Clegg initially doesn't spot Lord Ashdown. He also name checks Vince Cable and his foresight on the economy - Mr Cable's mansion tax announcement doesn't seem to have dented his popularity - the clapping gets louder. Big shouts when Mr Clegg says the Tories supported Iraq and only the Lib Dems "said no".

e-mail sent in by reader
By emailNick Clegg could be a good leader if he was decisive, honest, forthright, and with good policies - his problem seems to be that he has not captured the attention of the British people. Jan

Laura Kuenssberg
1528 From BBC chief political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg: Nick Clegg's admission that he has sometimes been 'too blunt' in interviews is almost an apology for using the phrase 'savage cuts', when outlining his approach to public spending in an interview with a newspaper at the weekend. It upset a lot of delegates here and horrified some of the party's MPs. Read BBCLauraK's tweets.

1526 Mr Clegg says people try to "goad him" by saying he's like Mr Cameron - just because they share height and a birthday in the mid 1960s. In that case he's got a lot in common with Brad Pitt he jokes - noting that his wife Miriam might not agree. It is their anniversary by the way - the man himself has just confirmed it.

1524 Now Mr Clegg's turned his fire on David Cameron, the Tory leader - he says "Britain deserves better" - to loud applause from the audience

1523 Mr Clegg says he wants "real change in Britain" and an end to the old "red-blue politics" - he adds a quick pop culture reference to Big Brother contestants' similarity to Labour MPs - they're both about to be "taken off air for good". Judging by their smiles Vince Cable and Lord Ashdown liked that one

1521 MP Evan Harris smiles as Mr Clegg references his comments about his own leadership - to some laughter from the audience. He says he's pleased to be in a party that debates things democratically

Laura Kuenssberg
BBC Political Correspondent Laura Kuenssberg tweets:Clegg wants to sound ambitious 'I want to be PM'-no notes either Read BBCLauraK's tweets.

1520 Mr Clegg starts off a series of sentences "I want to be prime minister" - spelling out his serious ambitions for the party.

1519 Mr Clegg says he "wants to be prime minister" to change the country for the good and outlines his wish list, which include an end to prejudice, tackling the environment and civil liberties

1518 Mr Clegg says Mr Brown must show leadership: "You cannot win a war on half horse power" he says. He says the war must be "done properly" or "not at all".

Laura Kuenssberg
1516 From BBC chief political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg: It's notable that the Lib Dem leader starts his speech with Afghanistan - in the last week the party has hardened up their line on the war, saying explicitly that unless the government changes the strategy in Afghanistan, then British troops should be withdrawn. It's not clear how he'd determine that the strategy had changed to the party's liking, but Mr Clegg is trying to create a dividing line between the Lib Dems and the other two main parties on Afghanistan. They party is well aware that it's objection to the Iraq was was an electoral advantage for them in 2005. Read BBCLauraK's tweets.

Nick Clegg
1516 More applause as he mentions the bravery of soldiers' families, he repeats his call for the war to "change course" and says some Lib Dems believe troops should withdraw now "hear hear" shouts someone in the audience.

1514 Mr Clegg strikes a sombre tone by starting his speech with the death toll of soldiers in Afghanistan - Paddy Ashdown nods in the audience. Big round of applause as he pays tribute to them.

1512 A big round of applause as Mr Clegg walks on stage to some striking music - just 11 mins late. The news channels have to decide between Mr Clegg or Barack Obama talking at the UN.

1511 I've just been told, and I've no reason to think it's untrue - that today is a big day for Mr Clegg in more ways than one. It's his ninth wedding anniversary apparently - his wife Miriam has been spotted walking around with him today for the cameras. They had their third child earlier this year.

1509 The lights are dimmed. Music is playing and the usual pre-speech video is up on the big screen.

1505 If the compere is to believed - Phil Willis is standing outside the conference hall in a Pudsey bear outfit - raising money for the Lib Dems, not Children in Need, I hasten to add. He's just name checked Nick Clegg so he must be in the room.

1503 The stage is filling up - not long now.

1501 Members are being asked to give as much money as possible to support the Lib Dems' election efforts. Can't see Nick Clegg yet but the rows of seats seem to have filled up. Wonder how Barack Obama is getting on at the UN? The US president's speech is clashing with Mr Clegg's - the Lib Dem leader might delay for a few minutes until he finishes speaking.

1459 The conference hall is filling up and a compere is on stage warming up the masses - he says Richard Dawkins has apparently been at the conference but as he hasn't seen him, he doesn't believe he exists - to a smattering of laughter

Vince Cable
1457 Vince Cable, the usually sure footed Treasury spokesman, admits to the BBC that he regrets not having consulted more widely on his "mansion tax" plans: "We could have had more consultation on the detail but we had discussed the broad principle before - it is about making the tax system fairer."

1455 Danny Alexander - the man in charge of the Lib Dem manifesto - says Mr Clegg's speech will be "upbeat and confident". "There's perhaps been a few stresses and strains along the way, it's in very good shape," he tells the BBC. The controversial "mansion tax" will get a mention, he insists

1453 Hello and welcome to our live text commentary of Nick Clegg's big speech - what will he tell the party faithful? There's been a few bumps this week in Bournemouth and not all members - not even all Lib Dem MPs - seem won over by Vince Cable's so called "mansion tax" - on properties worth more than £1m. Others were bothered by Mr Clegg's use of the word "savage" when describing future spending cuts. And a hint that the party may not be able to afford to pledge an end to university tuition fees in England did not go down well in all quarters. Mr Clegg is likely to have a go at the Conservatives - we already know he will urge disaffected Labour voters not to think the Tories are the only option.

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