Saturday, October 27, 2007

Is it the Nick Huhne or the Chris Clegg Show? be continued........

Just back from Rugby for the first official leadership hustings. I have decided to focus on the answers candidates gave to questions, as the contents of their speeches are already well known.

Bearing in mind my preferred candidate, I may have inadvertently got distracted from time to time when Chris was speaking, but have picked up as much as I can.

Q about what candidates would do in their first 100 days

Chris wanted to get the message of fairer, greener, less centralised across. Show that as a party we were more ambitious, not a 3rd party but a 1st . He believes there will be a tipping point when the electorate will come over to us. He would have a clear strategy to up our game so it is clear no other party can form a government without us. He also touched on the importance of fundraising.

Nick believed the first 100 days would give us a unique opportunity to get to the press - that we had the opportunity of a fairer hearing and we should be planning now for the election of a new leader. He believed we should create a sense of story, an idea that there was "something new afoot". His target was to break the mold in 10 years create a sense of excitement that we are a party on the march. His priority would be to establish our credentials as the anti establishment and campaigning party giving a voice to millions without a voice. And that we should do it in human speak - in ways people can understand.

Q about the two appearing to agree on policy
(I didn't quite get this question I thought it referred to the candidates but they seemed to have interpreted it as about parties)

Nick pointed out that the public perception is that we are all the same. He emphasised the need to do nationally what we do well locally, and that we needed to do so with a sense of flair and colour.

Chris talked about breaking the mold, that we should be seen as party there to change system and not just government. He reflected that despite 25% of the vote we had just10% of seats and that we can't build a fair society on the basis of an unfair system. He talked about the need to reconnect back. That a picture was worth a thousand words and suggested that on issues such as the loss of Civil Liberties MPs should do the same as Maya Evans, thus getting our message across visually.

Q about how to reach hard to reach places like the Black Country

Chris talked about his great grandfather having come from the Black Country. He said that we needed a party strategy and that we could bust the system in two parliaments. He felt we should have teams to recruit where we don't have a central spark.

Nick said we needed to talk to people, he had been out campaigning and had met people who hadn't heard from us before. We should build confidence in our ethos and values. He also stressed that candidates had to reflect contemporary Britain and that this was an issue he would be returning to.

Q about what was distinctive about each candidate

Nick referred to his record as shadow Home Sec at a time when the Home Office was as illiberal as it had ever been. He refused to accept the counsel from some senior colleagues that we should keep quiet. He expressed his outrage at the state of our prisons with 3,000-4,000 young men going to prison every month, into a system that wasn't working. His view was that we should take a principled approach. And he had done the same on immigration - put forward policies that would lead to a break through out of an incompetent system out of twilight zone - drawing illegal immigrants out and making them useful to society.

Chris said that we must make clear our differences That our policies are already there, our problem is communicating how we differ. On Iraq we were lucky to have our own issues but that isn't always the case especially when our policies get nicked. We must be more fleet of foot - research issues more - define wedge issues - and chisel away. Issues of social justice, freedom, green tax switch. We have had a problem honing down the central differences.

Q about the tole of the private sector in NHS

Chris referred to the proposals being worked up by Norman for more local control. Consequently some areas would choose to use the private sector, we were not offering top down proposals. We should scrap the centralised NHS and that for dynamism in the public sector you must have local control.

Nick said he had 2 priorities - greater control locally for NHS and to create a system that treats people like human beings - many get great service, but those with long term issues are not listened to. We should look at innovations in social care where people decide themselves who they want. He regarded the debate about the role of the private sector as a red herring and referred to the many rigged markets in high value schemes. He believed public monopolies were being replaced by private monopolies and gave as an example the buses in Sheffield.

Q asking about carers given that 1in5 of us are likely to be carers in fin the future

Nick pointed out that carers save us all billions. He cited the lack of respite care for carers as being unacceptable - this was an issue that must be more prominent.

Chris observed that councils were more concerned to protect their road budgets, rather than most vulnerable. He felt the degree of devotion of so many was astonishing but that they were often at their wits end.

To be continued.....................

I have to run off to a local party murder mystery evening............if I don't end up being the one getting it (which I know some of my esteemed readers would appreciate!) I will come back to this when I get home......

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