Liberal Democrat party conference 2014: Lib Dems in “fight of our lives” ahead of general election says Clegg in opening spech

Lynsey Barber
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Clegg told Lib Dems it faces a fight in the next election (Source: Getty)

Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has told his party it faces the the fight of its life ahead of the next general election.

Speaking to party members at the Lib Dem party conference, Clegg said the party had once again been written off and were the underdogs in the lead up to May's election.

Clegg called Prime Minister and coalition partner David Cameron a “poor man’s Margaret Thatcher and a rich man’s Nigel Farage” in the speech designed to rally Lib Dem members.

He warned a Conservative majority would result in a “botched” attempt to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Europe, the exit of of business from the UK and “the markets losing confidence, hiking up our borrowing costs and halting the recovery in its tracks”.

The Lib Dem leader also took a swipe at Labour, saying the opposition party would “throw away our recovery” if it were to gain power next year.

Clegg said:

Once again, we are the underdogs. Written off. Dismissed. Told that we can’t make a difference. I don’t know about you but I’ve heard this all before. We have upset the odds before and we will upset the odds again. If we want to make a difference to people’s lives, we can – but we have to fight for it. If we want to give young people the opportunity to reach their potential, regardless of their background, we can – but we have to fight for it. If we want to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, we can – but we have to fight for it. If we want to stop Labour and the Conservatives from taking Britain backwards, we can but we have to fight them tooth and nail to do it.

The party is currently polling under 10 per cent, a fall from the 23 per cent of votes it gained at the last general election in 2010.

The party is due to unveil a number election pledges including plans to commit £1bn of additional funding to the NHS annually over the next two years.

Treasury secretary Danny Alexander is due to announce plans to raise the limit on tax-free income to £12,500 and a crackdown on tax evasion. In the Independent today he called the Conservative’s similar pledge to raise the threshold “grand larceny”.

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