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Nick Clegg addresses Welsh Lib Dem Conference

Labour and Tories 'missing in action' on EU says Clegg

Nick Clegg is expected to use his speech to the Welsh Liberal Democrats' conference in Newport to attack Labour and the Conservatives as 'missing in action' in the campaign to defend Britain's membership of the European Union. He'll expected to say:

... remaining in Europe is the only way to protect three million British jobs. Because working with our neighbours is how we keep Britain strong – ensuring we can do all of the things we cannot do alone: promoting trade, tackling climate change, fighting cross-border crime. Because in the modern world there is safety in numbers. Because we always stand tall in the world when we stand tall in our own backyard.

– Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister

And he'll accuse the other two UK parties of 'failing to take a stand' on Europe in the face of 'myths and untruths' from UKIP.

Where are the supposedly pro-European Labour party? Or the supposedly moderate Conservative leadership? The country is finally having it out about the single biggest issue facing our future – and where are they?

Absent. Hiding. Missing in action. Paralysed by their own internal divisions. Too scared to speak up for the national interest because it’ll cause them too great a political headache.

It’s party-before-country from leaders who sort of half say they’re IN, but who don’t have the guts to actually come out.

Say what you like about the Liberal Democrats – and people do – but at least we have the courage of our convictions. At least we are willing to stand up and be heard, even when our views are less popular but we believe they are right.

So we will fill the void left by our opponents – make no mistake. Between now and May 22nd we will continue to fight for staying in Europe in order to protect the Britain we love.

– Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister

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Clegg to promise wide-ranging powers for Wales

Nick Clegg is expected to commit his party to a wide-ranging devolution of powers to Wales in its manifesto for next year's UK Election. The Deputy Prime Minister is to make the promise during his speech to the Welsh Liberal Democrat conference in Newport.

He'll promise that the party's 2015 manifesto will use the recent Silk Commission as a 'blueprint.' The Commission recommended devolving powers over policing, youth justice, energy decisions and teachers' pay.

Last week, Ed Miliband came to Wales with a half-baked promise to make changes to the Welsh settlement, missing out a whole range of important recommendations made by Silk.

Where Labour failed to meet those challenges; the Liberal Democrats will rise to them and I will be the first party leader to fully commit my party to including those proposals in our 2015 manifesto.

The Silk Commission recommendations will be the blueprint for our 2015 manifesto.

Unlike other parties, we are a democratic party and the final manifesto will be approved by our members, but I am clear that just as the Silk Commission has recommended, I want us to fight the next election proposing that we take on the recommendations of the Silk Commission to give you the tools you need to get on with the job.

Because in the General Election next year, Welsh Liberal Democrats in this hall, and beyond, will be able to say to the people of Wales: yes, we are the party of devolution, arguing for it since the days of Lloyd George, yes, we have and we are delivering on our promise of strengthening devolution and yes, we are the only party that is willing and able to give the people of Wales more and better devolution.

– Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister
  1. Adrian Masters

What to expect from the Welsh Lib Dem conference

Kirsty Williams speaking at conference 2013

As the Welsh Liberal Democrats begin their conference in Newport you can expect three things to be on their minds.

You won't be surprised to find Europe at the top of their agenda with just six weeks to go until the European Parliamentary elections in May.

The Lib Dems have never won one of the Welsh seats and the polls suggest that that's unlikely to change this year. But the party has positioned itself as the most Europhile of all the UK parties and so you can expect a lot said about how Wales benefits from being part of the EU.

There's another election on the horizon too: next year's UK General Election. There's no doubt the Lib Dems have suffered in successive elections because of the decision to enter coalition government with the Conservatives.

What's important for the party now is to point to the things it's achieved by being in government while distancing itself from its coalition partners. So you can expect much to be made of the raised income tax threshold, particularly because the new tax year is about to begin.

I'd also look out for some significant promises on devolution. The Lib Dems take credit for moves to extend devolution throughout their time in the UK Government, specifically the 2011 lawmaking powers referendum and the Silk Commission.

Senior party figures watched Ed Miliband's speech to last week's Welsh Labour conference with interest and tell me they're determined Labour won't 'out-devolution' the Lib Dems.

So Nick Clegg is expected to promise that the 2015 Liberal Democrat manifesto will take the Silk Commission's proposals for extensive devolution including power over policing and energy decisions as 'a blueprint.'

Welsh Liberal Democrat conference begins

Welsh Liberal Democrats logo

Welsh Liberal Democrats begin their conference in Newport this morning with a speech by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Other senior figures including UK Business Secretary Vince Cable and Welsh party leader Kirsty Williams are also due to address the conference.

With just six weeks to go until the European Parliamentary elections, Europe is expected to play a prominent rôle but next year's UK General Election will also be a significant issue. And there are expected to be pledges on further devolution for Wales.

Plaid leader's Euro appeal to Lib Dem voters

Plaid Cymru's leader Leanne Wood has made a direct appeal to what she calls 'disaffected Liberal Democrat supporters' to vote for her party in this year's European election.

She points out that the Lib Dems have struggled to win support in European elections. The party has never returned a Welsh MEP to the European Parliament.

Leanne Wood says Lib Dems who feel 'betrayed' by decisions taken by their party since forming a coalition government with the Conservatives should find a 'natural home' in Plaid.

I would appeal to all European progressives and in particular to disaffected Welsh Lib Dems not to stay at home in the forthcoming European elections. Staying at home will diminish an already low voter turn out to levels that would only allow the right win Europhobes to benefit.

Plaid Cymru is building a green, progressive and outward-looking Wales.

Anyone sharing this vision, whether or not they have supported us in the past, has a natural home in the Party of Wales.

– Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru leader

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'Hard struggle with Tories' warns Welsh Lib Dem leader

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams will say today that her party's ministers in the UK coalition face a hard struggle to get the Conservatives to agree to tax and borrowing powers for the Welsh Government and Assembly.

Ms Williams is addressing the Liberal Democrat Conference on Glasgow.

Only 9% of people in Wales want independence but they do want more powers. In Wales, the Welsh Liberal Democrats and I have been making a strong case for the devolution of fiscal and further powers for the National Assembly through the work of the Silk Commission.

It was hard work writing that commission into the coalition agreement in the first place It was a struggle to get the Tories to make good on that agreement. It will be harder still to get the Conservatives to implement its recommendations.

But I know that [Deputy Prime Minister] Nick Clegg, [Chief Secretary to the Treasury] Danny Alexander and [Wales Office Minister] Jenny Randerson will push and push and push for the powers that Wales needs.

This isn’t power for its own sake. Wales needs power over stamp duty to boost the housing industry Wales needs the power to vary income tax to ensure the Welsh Government takes responsibility for spending. Wales needs borrowing powers to invest in infrastructure to stimulate the economy.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM

Kirsty Williams' speech also mocks Labour leader Ed Miliband for praising First Minister Carwyn Jones with the words “we have a great deal to learn from the great things that Carwyn and his government are doing”.

Great things? Really? Are you waiting for an operation on the Welsh side of the border? Good luck to you as you could be waiting more than 8 months for treatment while your neighbour just across the border waits 18 weeks.

In Wrexham a child on free school meals gets £450 under the Welsh pupil premium. A child a few miles across the border in Chester gets £1,300 towards their education.

On the Welsh side of the Severn Estuary, not a single brick laid and not a single job created in the Cardiff Enterprise Zone. The Bristol enterprise zone on the other hand is employing hundreds of people.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM

The Welsh Lib Dem leader will say that apprenticeships in England are up by a third since 2010 but down by a third in Wales.

She'll urge 'anyone who needs a reminder to see what Britain would look like under Labour' to come to Wales.

Adrian Masters talks Clegg and more powers for Wales

A much-delayed decision on giving some tax and borrowing powers to Wales will be taken 'at the top of the UK Government', according to the Deputy Prime Minister. Nick Clegg has blamed the delay on Conservative ministers.

Our Political Editor Adrian Masters has more from him at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Glasgow.

Clegg - Powers decision taken 'at top of government'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says that a much-delayed decision on giving some tax and borrowing powers to the Welsh Government will be taken by him and the Prime Minister.

Opponents claim that the decision has been taken out of the hands of the Wales Office and pinned the blame on the Welsh Secretary David Jones for the delay.

Mr Clegg refused to criticise any individual cabinet colleague but did confirm that the decision will the taken 'at the top of government.'

Clegg blames Tories for increased powers delay

The Deputy Prime Minister has blamed Conservative ministers for delays in a decision on giving some tax and borrowing powers to the Welsh Government. An announcement from the UK Government is expected next month but had originally been due in the Spring.

At the Liberal Democrats' conference in Glasgow, Nick Clegg told Political Editor Adrian Masters that he's not responsible for the delay.

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