'We're toughening up': Lib Dems rally to Clegg's resilience message

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After the applause, the plaudits
After the applause, the plaudits

Senior Liberal Democrat figures have been eagerly embracing the 'we've toughened up' line put forward by Nick Clegg in his leader's speech ending his party's conference in Brighton.

Here's a selection of reactions given to politics.co.uk from the floor of the conference hall after the deputy prime minister made his exit.

TIM FARRON, party president

"The task ahead of us is to make sure we rescue the economy and we make that rescue a fair one. What Nick set out really clearly is that the Liberal Democrats are not only the most solid and mature of the two parties in government, dare I say it, that's fairly obvious isn't it, but also that we're the only one committed to fairness.


"You can trace the conferences over the last two-and-a-half years as a hardening process, a maturing process, from a shock and pride, to dismay at poor results from a year or two ago now, to a point now of resilience and determination. This is our time, this is our chance to make a difference, to rescue Britain and make it fairer and greener too. We're going to bring the British people with us, and we ask them to follow."

DANNY ALEXANDER, chief secretary to the Treasury

"We are toughening up in government. The message to the party is we've made this transition from being a party of opposition to a party of government, a party of power. That's something the party is comfortable is and something we need to keep doing in the future.

"The Liberal Democrats are the only party in British politics now who can be trusted by people with their money, and can also be trusted on fairness, too.

"We are the most united, most determined party in British politics at the moment."

DAVID LAWS, education minister

"Resilience was a theme of the speech - for the party and also for the country, given that we're going through a long period of adjustment and difficulty for economic times.

"There are two challenges: firstly to finish the implementation of many of the policies that were in our general election manifesto, raising the level at which people start to pay income tax to help people on low and middle incomes, putting extra money into the education system, sorting out the environment, but also resilience in delivering the return to growth and the reduction of the huge borrowing levels we inherited from the last Labour government."

ANDREW STUNNELL, former communities and local government minister

"He was very clearly redirecting us and pointing us towards what lies ahead over the next two-and-a-half years to the next general election. Setting out a very message to the electorate that we can say we are delivering on the promises we made last time, and building us up next time.

"There was no quarter for Labour, there was a very clear and distinctive message that we can deliver on the economy. And we can make Britain fairer, which our Conservative coalition partners don't feel the need to do."

LORD GERMAN, party spokesperson on work and pensions

"It was an extremely well-structured speech. It gave us the past and where we've come from, and the future and what we can achieve.

"No one now talks about us having to abandon the course we're on to put the economy back on track. People see that as central to what we do.

"From today this party has shifted up a gear, in its momentum to try and make change for the future both in government and for the next general election."

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