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MHC Speech to Lib Dem conference
Delivered after leadership election, pre-negotiations. Permission from Nathan
I am tremendously honoured to be elected as leader of the Liberal Democrats. I thank each member who voted for me for your support, and the volunteers and supporters who put in tireless work to help make this campaign possible. I assure every Liberal Democrat member and voter that I take this responsibility with the utmost seriousness, that I will not betray the trust you have placed in me, that I will never rest when it comes to fulfilling our duty to create a society that balances the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.
I would also like to thank Tim, and all his dedicated supporters and hardworking campaign team members, for an honest, forthright, yet fundamentally decent and dignified debate about the future of our party and our country. Tim acted with integrity and an admirable sense of duty throughout the whole campaign. It is the sort of politics that we want to see emulated across the nation.
When I joined the Liberal Party at university, bright eyed and wanting to take on the world, I knew I had found the place I belonged. A party driven by fairness and compassion that fought for justice and equality was always going to be the place I belonged. To quote Paddy, finding Liberalism was like putting on a comfortable coat I never knew I had. Since that day when a young man, who would later be my husband, got me to sign up I have never looked back and I promise you all that I will continue looking forward, fighting for a Britain that is fairer and more just for everyone.
I will not pretend that this is an easy time in British politics. When this coalition started, faith in our institutions of government and the character of our politicians, of all parties, was at an all-time low. The expenses scandal, the culture of spin, the unaccountability and indifference permeating through the halls of power. Our nation was struggling with a horrific global economic meltdown, one that we have not yet fully recovered from. The Iraq war, still fresh in our minds, the most disastrous political decision of a generation. We must always strive to improve our politics, and that has been the driving force behind the Liberal Democrats for decades. I will never give up the fight for a fairer, evidence-based politics where rash decisions are no longer the norm.
I believed then, and I believe now, that providing stable and moderate government was the best way to weather through such trying economic times. I believed then, as I believe now, that politicians had to abandon petty point-scoring and a myopic fixation on party politics. I believed then, and I still believe, that we can produce a new political culture in this country, a political culture that prises pluralism and innovation, that allows for bold changes but not chaotic brinksmanship. That is why I am committed to making this coalition work, even though it may not be the best thing for my party's poll numbers.
But let us not pretend that it has been easy. Let us not pretend that, like with every government, there have been not losers from the past few years. Let us not ignore the economic distress, the feelings of being left behind or isolated, of those who lost out the most from the recession and have not yet felt the effects of the recovery. Let's not pretend that every person's life has gotten better over the past few years, that some people have not suffered unduly or unfairly, including, sometimes, from government policy. We must, looking forward, be willing to admit our mistakes and be willing to admit when we need to do better.
And that is the leadership I will be providing as Deputy Prime Minister. I will push ahead with the policies that the coalition has pursued that were right for the country - the income tax personal allowance, the pupil premium, investment in green energy and technology, a stronger pensions system, more apprenticeships, and a dedicated focus on empowering local communities and standing up for civil liberties and equality. But I will be willing to, to admit when we got it wrong, to acknowledge that many people aren't better off, that far too many children are living in poverty, and accept that some of the compromises that coalitions demand have been disappointing and do need addressing.
The British people have lost trust in the political class for a good reason. I can't fix that on my own. But by being honest with you, by listening to those who disagree with me as much as those who agree with me, by never forgetting to stand up for fairness and freedom, I will do my part. I call upon my colleagues to do theirs.
There are eighteen months left until the next election, and we will have to fight hard to regain the trust that we have lost and it will not be easy to get back, but I am going to make you a promise. I will never stop fighting, I will never stop believing that we can do better, and I will never count you out. I will stand shoulder to shoulder with all of you and demand better from our Government.
Meredith Hansen-Charles QC MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Parliamentary experience: Novice (20)
Media experience: Novice (24)
Policy experience: Unknown (9)
It's a good start, even if I am having trouble not reading this in Capt. Janeway's voice.
You have a lot to prove. Like many Lib Dem leaders and seniors, you are talking a good game and saying things that people can connect with. But can you prove that you can deliver it in government and not just be the human shield for what many see as a firmly Tory agenda in government?
It's a good speech, but I'm afraid that you will not start with a huge amount of benefit of the doubt. Sorry.
+1 Media XP