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Clegg Makes Final Plea For Votes

Nick Clegg points the way as he joins Liberal Democrat candidate Elwyn Watkins (hidden) for some canvassing in Grotton today.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has made a renewed appeal for local people to support his party in Thursday’s by-election. Making his third visit of the campaign, the Deputy Prime Minister praised candidate Elwyn Watkins for showing “courage and bravery” during the Phil Woolas scandal.

Mr Clegg spent some time knocking on doors in Grotton, before moving up the road to the White Hart at Lydgate to do a series of media interviews.

When asked by Saddleworth News whether he had a message for any undecided voters, he said: “The first thing I’d say is remember why we’re having this by-election.”

He added: “We’re having this by-election because five High Court judges showed that the Labour party and Phil Woolas had lied his way through the general election and stoked up racial tension for narrow party political advantage.”

Mr Clegg went on to praise Mr Watkins, who brought a successful legal challenge against the general election result: “There’s only one reason why people have got the opportunity to have a fairer say on who they want to be their MP. It’s because of the courage and bravery of Elwyn Watkins. And I think Elwyn Watkins would be an oustanding MP for this local area for that and so many other reasons.”

The Deputy PM also defended his party’s decision to go into coalition with the Conservatives: “I think there’s a basic division now. There’s people who think that compromise in politics is not a bad thing from time to time, much in the same way as we have to compromise in our everyday lives. And those people who think that every time there’s a compromise between politicians who don’t agree on everything, it’s a betrayal, or a u-turn.”

A huge crowd of journalists and party activists follow Nick Clegg and Elwyn Watkins in Grotton this afternoon.

Mr Clegg went on: “I just think people have got to move on. We can’t have this, I think very rigid, slightly crass view of politics, that it’s about everyone either winning or everyone either losing. The point of a coalition government is that we’ve got two parties who are different, who come at things from different perspectives, so of course we have to work hard to find agreement, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”

He added: “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to find simple and sensible compromises for the benefit of the country in the long term. And that’s what I do every single day of the week.”

However, Mr Clegg conceded that he hadn’t been totally successful in getting across the way the coalition works to people: “Most obviously in the controversy around the reforms to higher education, it’s been quite a job for us to explain that we didn’t win the general election. We came third. Both the other parties didn’t agree with our policy on university education, so even if we’d been in a coalition with Labour, fees would have gone up.”

He added: “So what we’ve done instead is work very hard on the detail of the policy to make it much fairer than it would have been otherwise. And to make sure that all graduates will pay less in future per month than they would do under the scheme we inherited from Labour.”

Mr Clegg concluded: “That’s a good example of the kind of push and pull, if you like, of contemporary politics.”

You can hear the interview in full here. I was one of three reporters asking questions, and Mr Clegg also discussed control orders.

Elwyn Watkins and Nick Clegg chat to a householder in Grotton today.

A total of ten candidates are standing in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election. You can get in-depth interviews with Labour’s Debbie Abrahams here, BNP candidate Derek Adams here, Conservative Kashif Ali here, Peter Allen of the Greens here, Pirate Party UK candidate Loz Kaye here, Stephen Morris of the English Democrats here, UKIP candidate Paul Nuttall here and Liberal Democrat Elwyn Watkins here.

The other candidates are David Bishop of the Bus Pass Elvis Party and Nick “The Flying Brick” Delves from the Monster Raving Loony Party.

Polling day is on Thursday. Lots of other senior politicians have been campaigning in our area in recent weeks, and you can read and listen to David Cameron’s interview with Saddleworth News here. You can hear from Foreign Secretary William Hague here.

An earlier Saddleworth News interview with Mr Clegg in which he discussed many Saddleworth-specific issues is here, while a chat with Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable is here. You can hear from Labour leader Ed Miliband here, here and here, and a conversation with Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson here. UKIP leader Nigel Farage spoke to Saddleworth News here.

To read full coverage of the by-election so far from Saddleworth News, click here.


  • Geoff Frost says:

    The mere mention, let alone the sight of Clegg must cost the Lib Dems a great many votes. He is now classed as one of the most treacherous, self-serving millionaire politicians in power. His reputation and sincerity is akin to that of an investment banker and he has damaged the Lib Dems more than anybody since the dark days of the Liberal party and Jeremey Thorpe.

  • What Clegg needs to understand is that many people have problems with the austerity policies of the ConDem coalition. It is not that people are against coalitions on principle. It is what this coalition is doing. They are destroying our public services which are a safety net for the vulnerable and poor. Local services like Libraries and Schools are going to suffer from cut budgets. Students are condemned to years of debt.

    Yet almost everyday we hear of big bonuses for failed bankers. Both the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet are filled with wealthy people who are well-cushioned from the effects of their policies.

    The LibDems have sold their principles and sold-out many of those who voted for them because they thought they were different.

  • robert wilson says:

    people are tired at the sight of clegg, in politics u either have principals or not, if u think harsh deep cuts would be bad for the economy b4 an election, how can u allow them to go through after an election- that isnt a compromise -its a sell out, a betrayal! he is power drunk, and we are the ones having to deal with the hangover! im sorry i lost faith with the labor party, but never again, ill be voting for them again every chance i get

  • Nick Georgiou says:

    Never thought I’d prefer a Tory to a Lib Dem -that day has come

  • John Brooks says:

    How does Mr Watkins square these polls with his claims in recent leaflets that he is in the lead and that most conservatives are backing him.

    Take this in conjunction with his ‘Labour’s unknown candidate’ line and his keenness to claim improvements in Pension provision actually enabled by Labour legislation and in ignorance of Lib Dem minister Steve Webb’s published plans to accelerate the increase in retirement pension age, one is left to wonder where this honorable campaign he promised has gone.

    We were canvassed by the Greens at the weekend. The canvasser is a former Lib Dem voter!!

    As for living in Delph! Everyone knows he will be gone when he loses. He says he is local. I have lived in Delph for nearly 14 years – I am still a comerer inner. Elwyn you are not and can never be local!

  • Tim Hill says:

    And your alternative is ?
    Labour’s is a blank piece of paper.
    And it was Labour who got the country in an even worse mess that it should have been.
    Labour rightly got booted out at the general election.

  • nick Georgiou says:

    what rubbish ,everybody knows that the tories are spinning a very neat deception on the deficit

    Global capital;ist irrespondibility is to blame.

    Labour should have regulated more firmly

    The tories would have let the Banks do even worse damge

  • Geoff Frost says:

    nick Georgiou: If you really believe the massive deficit has been manipulated I suggest you watch, or read about, a film (recently shown on television) Britain’s Trillion Pound Horror Story by Michael Durkin. Far from the truth being spun by the Tories it is in fact much worse than any of the politicians dare reveal.

    By the way I detest all three major parties at present so I have no bias in that regard.

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