Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg found himself under fire over impending cuts to education and other public spending when he appeared at the annual Liberal Democrat Party conference being held in Liverpool.
Trade union activist and Lib Dem candidate Linda Jack said: “So many of these cuts are going to disproportionately affect the poorest. All our youth policy, I don’t see it in the coalition agreement.”
Mr Clegg insisted education was of high importance at the question and answer session inside the Echo Arena and BT Convention Centre on Sunday. “We are working incredibly hard to introduce a progressive way of funding higher education and further education,” he said.
With the Government's comprehensive spending review due to be announced next month, Mr Clegg reassured his supporters over the cuts and the country’s debt: “It is not a magic wand solution, there are other things we need to do. It is a huge progressive step forward, of which we should be proud.”
The Lib Dems arrived for their annual autumn conference on
Saturday, the first since a coalition government with Conservatives
formed after a hung parliament result at the General Election in May.
Liverpool-born Baroness Walmsley of West Derby opened the
conference calling for the party to “unite” over the next five days. She
told Lib Dem supporters she was “chuffed” the conference was
being held in her home town.
Around 6,500 delegates are expected to attend the five-day
conference, including Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable,
whose speech will end the conference on Wednesday.
Nick Clegg told the BBC on Friday that he expected “a rough ride” when he came to Liverpool, a long-time Labour stronghold, though the Lib Dems led Liverpool City Council for 13 years until this May.
Protests took place all over the city on Saturday, but for different causes. The BNP had a stall on Church Street calling for British Armed Forces to be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan. A surprise visit from BNP leader Nick Griffin was met with angry protests from the Merseyside Unite Against Fascism group.
A huge Merseyside Police presence stood guard on the plaza outside the conference centre where protesters gathered opposing job cuts and services being axed, such as in education.
Len McCluskey, Deputy General of Unite, told the Liverpool Echo: “Every man, woman and child will be affected by these cuts. We must build confidence so that we can stand together, public and private, young and old, to resist.”
Around £10million is expected to be put into the local economy from conference visitors to Liverpool.
By Chris Bradley
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Nick Clegg said he expected a "rough ride" when the Lib Dems held their conference at the Echo Arena