Video of the Deputy Prime Minster's new year message:
2015 should be a year for optimism. I know it might not always feel that way, the last year has been another tough one for many people. And when times are tough, some politicians, instead of telling it like it is and offering a positive way forward, respond with easy simplistic answers or by telling us who to blame.
And when that happens, instead offering hope and a way forward, politics becomes about picking a side - us vs them, fear instead of hope. I can tell you right now what David Cameron and Ed Miliband’s messages to you will be this year: David Cameron will tell you to stick to his plan but the Conservatives’ plan is not a plan for everyone.
That’s why I’ve had to fight inside government, every day, to make this government fairer, to make sure this coalition has stayed on the centre ground, helping millions of people, not just a few, with lower taxes for ordinary workers, more apprenticeships than ever, better pensions, more help for the most disadvantaged children, and an economic recovery that would never have happened if the Liberal Democrats had not stepped up to the plate and formed a stable, strong government.
Now that there’s an election looming, far from sticking to the plan we’ve pursued in government, the Conservatives are swerving off to the right and advocating ideological cuts to our public services. Ed Miliband will tell you that the day to day pressures people face are all the fault of the government. He wants to pretend he can wave a magic wand and everything will be better. But it won’t. Life isn’t like that. And what he won’t tell you is that the pain of the last few years has been a direct result of the economic collapse his party presided over.
Denial is no way to run a country. Denial won’t fix the economy or help working people. Choosing between Labour and the Conservatives is a pretty grim choice to make. So this year, make another. Choose to put the Liberal Democrats in government again and this is what you’ll get: we will always fight to make sure that whoever you are or whatever your background, you have the opportunity to fulfil your potential. But we can’t do that without a stronger economy and Labour in power, on their own, will put the economic recovery at risk.
And we can’t do it without a fairer society. The Conservatives in power, on their own, will look after their own kind. They won’t spread opportunity for everybody. Only the Liberal Democrats offer both: a stronger economy and a fairer society. Opportunity for all. I will always stand up for the Liberal British values of openness, tolerance and compassion against those who peddle the politics of grievance, fear and blame. This year, a lot of mud will be thrown. A lot of over the top claims will be made, a lot of accusations will be hurled around the place.
Ignore them. This year, you get to choose. Make 2015 a year for hope, not fear. For optimism, not division. For everybody. Happy New Year.