Nick Clegg: Let 2010 be the year in which we press the political reset button

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The Independent Online

People's faith in politics may be dented, but I still believe in our ability to learn from the mistakes of the past, and set things on a new course.

2010 must be the year we press the political reset button. But that will only happen if we do things differently. More of the same won't produce anything new. Some people say, what's the point of voting when the same old parties always win? I say: vote for what you believe in. If you like what the Liberal Democrats stand for, vote for it. If you want real change, not phoney change, vote for it. If you think things should be different, vote for it.

At the end of the day, politics should be about what you believe. What kind of Britain do you want to live in? What kind of world do we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in? So as the countdown to the next general election finally begins, I have a simple question for the other party leaders: what do you believe, really believe? People don't want leading politicians clinging on to power for its own sake, or just telling people what they want to hear. There's got to be more to it than that.

I have one belief above all others: a belief in fairness. Under my leadership the Liberal Democrats have been working on new ideas to make Britain the fair country I believe most people want it to be. We want to raise standards in all of our schools by giving specific help to the children most in need, and by making class sizes smaller.

Soon we will be publishing new ideas to turn our economy away from its over-dependence on the City of London to a new, green economy where hundreds of thousands of new jobs will be created as we rebuild our transport, energy and housing infrastructure. Above all, we are now the only party with a detailed plan to make taxes fair – removing all income tax on the first £10,000 you earn, paid for by asking people at the top to pay a bit more.

If we as leaders want people to turn out to vote at all at the next general election, we have got to show people our convictions, not just dividing lines, our beliefs, not just soundbites. I hope in the coming months even more people will get a chance to find out what I believe in, and the beliefs of the Liberal Democrats. If enough people share our convictions, our beliefs, then 2010 really can be the beginning of something new.



This is an edited extract from the Liberal Democrat leader's New Year Message.

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