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Nick Clegg supports moves towards dethroning economic growth theory

January 8, 2009 10:34 PM

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says he's ready to talk about how the Lib Dems can shift the terms of the economic debate away from measures like GDP towards well-being or happiness.

Speaking at a debate in Richmond last night on the environment and the economy Nick said he was "very excited about the work being done by the New Economics Foundation and others". But he warned that any such changes would have to be easily understood by voters struggling with the effects of the recession and "should not be just a statistical sleight of hand".

Nick stressed that "the Lib Dems should never allow social and ecological justice to be separated". "We cannot ignore the problems of today to concentrate solely on the problems of the long term", he said.

In an animated debate in Duke Street Baptist Church in Richmond Nick reiterated the Lib Dem policy that one of the best ways to deal with recession was to put the unemployed to work installing energy efficiency measures. "If you're going to spend public money then it should be invested in green jobs," he said. But he came in for criticism from one member of the audience for not putting his new Energy and Climate Change Spokesman, Simon Hughes, in the Lib Dem economic recovery group that was announced today.

Another audience member wanted to know what Nick was doing to foster cross-party support for action on climate change. "I've never had a conversation with Gordon Brown or David Cameron about climate change," he replied. "Cross-party cooperation is too often an excuse for inaction", he added. "It leads to caution not radicalism." This, he said, is why the Lib Dems broke up the cross-party consensus on climate change having been the ones to propose it in the first place.

Nick also said he believed that the campaign against the third runway at Heathrow would succeed and that it was right that it should. And he very kindly promised to pay for the editor of the Green Lib Dem website to be released on bail if he got arrested for taking direct action against Heathrow or Stansted expansion!