Do I think that these big, big cuts are merited or justified at a time when the economy is struggling to get to its feet? Clearly not.
Not my words – those of Nick Clegg in a BBC, interview with Jeremy Paxman, 12 April 2010.
I would say this, look, the decision on how we govern this country and how people vote shouldn’t be driven by fear of what the markets might do. Let’s say there was a Conservative government, right? Let’s say a Conservative government announced in that sort of macho way, ‘We’re going slash public spending by a third, we’re going to slash this, we’ll slash this, we’re going to do it tomorrow’, because it has to take early tough action.
Just imagine the reaction of my constituents in South West Sheffield. I, I represent a constituency that has more people working in public services as a proportion of the workforce than any other constituency in the country, lots of people work in the universities, the hospitals and so on. They have no Conservative councillors, they have no Conservative MPs, there are no Conservative MPs or Conservative councillors as far as the eye can see in South Yorkshire. People like that are going to say, ‘Well who are these people telling us that they are going to suddenly take our jobs away, who are these people who are suddenly they’re saying they’re going to threaten my local – what mandate do they have? I didn’t vote for them. No one around here votes for them.’ And I just, you know I think if we want to go the direction of Greece, where you get read social and industrial unrest, that’s the guaranteed way of doing it, thinking that the old tub-thumping way of conducting politics is the way that you bring people along with you.
(Nick Clegg, Yorkshire Post, Question Time event, 19 March 2010)
This is particularly interesting because time after time, in and out of Parliament , Clegg and co have used ‘Greece’ as a reason for supporting speedy deficit reduction, now arguing that if the UK didn’t do this we would be at the mercy of lenders ‘like Greece’.
It can be depressing after a lively debate going into the voting lobbies knowing that ‘they’ have a hefty majority. Usually when a Government has a comfortable majority like this it can argue that it has a ‘mandate’ for using that majority to carry through its own policies. But that isn’t the case here – there is no mandate ! The Tories didn’t win massive support for their policies and most of those voting Lib Dem thought they were voting for the policies Clegg & Co were speaking up for before the election. So how is this a mandate for what they are doing?