Monday, 19 December 2011

Nick Clegg's speech and Lib dem aims for Society

For a full text of the speech click here!

Today Nick Clegg gave a speech at Westminster Methodist Central hall to Demos and the Open Society Foundation and spoke on the need for Social change and the creation of an Open Society.

The main thrust of the speech is to look at Tony Blair's comparison of an Open and Closed society. Nick then puts it into context with today's society and how we, the Liberal Democrats want to (and are trying to) make this a much more open Society with fairness at its heart and that social mobility is possible and actively encouraged.

The Coalition is putting more money into funds to increase the young's chances;

That is why I have made clear that intergenerational social mobility is the principal objective of the Coalition’s social policy. And why I have been so determined to increase our investment in the vital early years, including, recently, by extending the new two-year old offer to an additional 130,000 toddlers in working families.

There is also a further £1bn going into the Youth Contract scheme, a large amount of Government funds especially in this day and age.

Nick pointed out certain disparities within other disciplines. Things that I'm sure the 99% find frustrating.
The example he uses is the legal profession;

More than two thirds of all high court judges and top barristers are privately-educated. Nine out ten QCs are men. Nineteen out of twenty are white.

This is indeed a shocking statistics and shows that someone low born has a very very low chance of making it to High court judge as well as the opportunity to learn at the same institutions. How is this fair?
Liberalism wants to level the playing field so that everyone has the right and opportunity to climb the social ladder which is something I truly believe in. I want Sophie to be all that she can be, go as far as she wants or is able to go and not be stopped by glass flaws.

The party also wants to move towards more personal budgets in health or Social care which gives us the power back. This again is great as I want to be able to chose my services rather than be held in the rigid frame work with no choice that have "always" existed or "Must" exist.

Then Nick moves on to Localism. This is a policy close to my heart. I truly believe in Localism and  its advantages to local people. If a Local Council or governing body has a way to improve things for its citizens that it can implement and it is happy that it has the support of local people then why not do it?
Why wait for National Government to implement an idea? You could be waiting forever!
Also for National Government its legislation will be across whole areas and what is good for Kent is not good or Merseyside so Medway Council would be better placed to bring in a procedure or reform for the people of Medway.

Then comes the big thing, one of our policies from a Century ago that still needs to be implemented. The reform of the house of Lords. This second house, an unelected body of 500 or so that is governing and altering laws put forward by an elected body needs reform. A second house is in itself a necessity to act as a brake but it should be elected to represent the needs of the masses rather.

Attacks on Banker's and executive's bonuses, greater power for shareholders to stop the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer by paying for their mistakes. The Call for a "Responsible Capitalism" rather than a continuation of this Victorianesq style. It may seem like a stretched metaphor but it is true. The poor are still living badly whilst the rich continue to be paid telephone number salaries and bonuses and live in the lap of luxuries.

There is also talk of freeing the press, something we as a party have been in support of a long time. Recently the Murdoch Empire has begun to crack, brought down by its own corruption. Before your chances of election or for the success of a policy depended on how Mr Murdoch felt. Indeed if the Murdoch press turned upon you it could indeed bring down a Government. This is NOT right!
Government policy, indeed Elections should be based on a fair appraisal from an independent press and let people make their own minds up.

Nick also argues that the Nation needs to drop its artificial divides of North, south, developing etc... We are one nation and we need to work together as one Society and we are all equal.

There is also... Well, I've spoken about it before ...

As a Party the Liberal Democrats are trying to redefine ourselves against our Coalition partners. This is not a dig at the Conservatives or indeed the Coalition really but is an attempt to remind the electorate that there are TWO parties in Coalition.

Nick makes a subtle jab at the Conservatives moves in Europe and at Euro scepticism and warns that this is a sign of a closed society;

History teaches that, at times of deep economic uncertainty, societies become more exposed to the forces of division – populism, insularity, separatism, an ‘us versus them’ mentality.

Rather than remaining open to the world and facing the future, societies can begin to turn inwards and lose confidence in progress.

The danger in the UK is that the forces of reaction and retreat overwhelm our instinct for openness and optimism. That we succumb to fear - the greatest enemy of openness - in these dark economic times.

Indeed this "Us vs. Them" mentality can be drawn to cover National politics. At the moment Labour and indeed aspects of the Coalition are drawing lines between
THEM; This is what they want to do isn't it wrong/immoral 
US; We don't want to do that or are opposed to that.

This isn't the way forward. Its not about party colours or lines when it comes to the making a better place for everyone. The nation doesn't need it. Where there is consensus there needs to be consensus not pointless opposition for the sake of it and political point scoring and where there is division there needs to be healthy debate.

Needless to say, having read the speech; I agree with Nick.
I honestly think that Society does need to change, to better itself and to put its faith in people, not institutions or the past, not to have blue prints but to adapt and mold itself as it progresses to what the people want or need. The 99% are tired of life being pre-ordained to a lesser or greater degree they want to have all the opportunities that they deserve and that life is not a battle.
Lets have this open Liberal society.

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