Clegg’s New Year Message

I just got in from work to read the email version of Nick Clegg’s New Year Message. He has also recorded it as a YouTube video:

Personally, I was genuinely enthused by it, and it’s not often I can say that about a Lib Dem email shot. I think this message contains the beginnings of a really strong narrative for Clegg to hang our policies off: what he terms “social mobility”.

I believe no-one should be condemned by the circumstances of their birth. And I am certain that is what the British people believe, too. We are a nation with a strong sense of fair play, and natural justice.

The challenge for our party is to persuade those people that their home is with the Liberal Democrats. We will do it by putting social mobility – a fair deal for every family – at the heart of our message.

Sprouting from this sturdy trunk are four key issues which he clearly intends to try and make some running on in the new year. Two of them are not surprising, they are major planks of existing policy and are familiar territory for us, although weaving them into his “social mobility/families” may be interesting to watch. They are:

1. Opposition to ID cards.
2. The Pupil Premium / Levelling the playing field for poor families in general.

One of them is clearly a piece of David Cameron’s political territory which Nick wants for himself:

3. Quality of Life / Work-Life Balance

I see no reason why he shouldn’t take it relatively easily, since the Tory quality of life policy review’s suggestions were so roundly ignored.

The last one, and the most specifically trumpeted here, is an interesting one:

4. “We will campaign for sensible restrictions on advertising aimed at toddlers.”

Now, as a regular reader of Adbusters, I need little persuading that campaigning to take back some of our more cherished public spaces from advertisers is a good thing, so I don’t have too much concern about this as a bit of policy, but I think it is interesting as a sign of Clegg’s thinking, since it is so specific an issue and so early in Clegg’s leadership. I don’t know what to make of it, really. I hope it will go down well, though. Advertising is quite a big issue for the anticorporate left, and for young people in general, and it’s a sufficiently unusual political issue that it might just capture the attention of people who don’t usually pay much heed to the usual spats on tax, education, health, foreign policy and so on. If the campaign on this can find something genuinely interesting to say, we may well win some new following. Which can’t be bad.

I will finish on a prediction: Like last time there was a kerfuffle over kids TV advertising, the commercial broadcasters will likely predict the end of kids’ TV in the commercial sector. I didn’t believe them then, and I wouldn’t believe them now. Anyway, to be honest, it’s wouldn’t be a terrible thing for the BBC to end up producing the bulk of kids telly. They do it very well, and I think it’s more obviously justifiable as a public service than much of their programming. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how the commercial sector reports it. Will ITN’s reporting be notably chillier than the BBCs? Will either of them bother to report this at all?

Time will tell…


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