Nick: fairness is the Lib Dems’ core value

by Stephen Tall on January 6, 2010

‘It’s all about fairness’, is the refrain we can expect to hear a lot from Nick Clegg in the next few months, leading up to the 2010 general election. It was noticable that the word ‘fair’ was deployed in each one of Nick’s four key policy areas set out in his Times article yesterday on the Lib Dems’ approach to a ‘hung parliament’:

  • fair taxes;
  • a fair start for all our children;
  • a fair and sustainable economy that creates jobs; and
  • fair, clean and local politics.

And it’s the word which recurs in this BBC interview, where Nick states his belief that the core value of the Lib Dems is fairness:

There may be some mutterings about the emphasis on fairness – what about freedom, for example, an essential component of liberalism? It’s a fair point. But as yesterday’s post on Lib Dem sloganeering made clear, to have an impact your core message has to be simple and memorable.

Just as importantly, if you’re the leader of the third major party, you need to differentiate yourself. For all that freedom is essential to liberalism, it’s unlikely while the Tories are sort-of in the ascendant that this will mark out the Lib Dems in the public mind.

Nick’s stated aim – as detailed in his The Liberal Moment pamphlet last autumn – is for the party to replace Labour as the major opposition to the Tories. In which case it makes good, strategic sense to pitch the Lib Dems’ tent squarely on the territory – fairness – traditionally associated with Labour.