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No apology for compromises: Clegg

Nick Clegg has said he owes no apology for making painful compromises on Liberal Democrat policy and braced party members for more pain to come.

As record borrowing figures intensified the economic gloom facing the UK, the Deputy Prime Minister said there is a "long, hard road ahead".

In his keynote party conference speech, the Lib Dem leader insisted the worsening crisis underlines the wisdom of signing up to tough Conservative-led cuts and he urged activists reeling from a year of anger, frustration and hammerings at the polls to believe it will "all be worth it in the end".

He told the meeting in Birmingham: "Hold your heads up and look our critics squarely in the eye. This country would be in deep trouble today if we had not gone into Government last year. And Britain will be a fairer nation tomorrow because we are in Government today.

"Never apologise for the difficult things we are having to do. We are serving a great country at a time of great need. There are no shortcuts but we won't flinch. Our values are strong, our instincts are good: reason not prejudice; compassion not greed; hope not fear."

The successful mission to "stop the NHS Bill in its tracks" demonstrated how the party was able to "hold back" the Tories and "anchor the Government in the centre ground", he said.

A string of announcements made at the conference, from gay marriage and curbing executive pay to action on empty homes, bear witness to the party's ability to move things forward as well, Mr Clegg said.

He claimed that even the intense anger inside and outside the party over tuition fees was more down to a failure of presentation than the abandonment of a key pre-election pledge.

Mr Clegg conceded the Government has to "do more" to stimulate growth after a further downgrade of UK prospects by the International Monetary Fund heightened fears of a double-dip recession.

But aides insisted that reports a £5 billion injection into infrastructure is under discussion are wrong and that the coalition is united in sticking to existing spending plans.


From Belfast Telegraph