Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat party leader was greeted by supporters and the national press when he visited Divex, Westhill last Friday (April 17).
The Deputy Prime Minister was met by Sir Robert Smith and his local campaign team for a tour of the facility which specialises in the design, supply and manufacture of diving and subsea equipment for the international market.
What people here want to avoid is instability and uncertainty.Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Mr Clegg was in the North-east to speak on behalf of his party’s record in government and delivered stern warnings on the ‘threat’ of Scottish Nationalism and the dangers of a possible ‘BLUKIP’ Coalition government made up of The Democratic Unionist Party, hardline right wing Conservatives and The UK Independence Party.
Mr Clegg put time aside to speak to The Piper before any other media outlet at Westhill.
When asked what Sir Robert’s chances were, he said: “I think Sir Robert’s chances are very good. We are confident, not complacent as you know.
“Bob is an immensely popular MP, he has worked tirelessly for this area, I certainly know from my own experience, anyone in Westminster will tell you particularly when defending and promoting the interests of the oil and gas industry which is so important to individuals and families in this area Bob really is the leading, and widely recognised across the parties as the leading, voice on behalf of the North-east on behalf of this industry...he has done so many things to promote the economy, investment and the livelihoods of people here....many things that I suspect a lot of local people aren’t even aware of and of course, the alternative is a Scottish nationalist challenge and I think the contrast could not be greater.
“The nationalists basically want to re-open all the old wounds that we had in the referendum campaign and as you’ll know better than I do, that referendum was vigorously fought but it caused strains in friendships and communities and families and I just don’t think people here want to be constantly asked the same question over and over and over again.
“People want to move forward and I think that in Bob you have the only alternative to a challenge from the SNP.
“You have someone who has a track record of being totally devoted to the local area but also representative of a party that wants to move forward, that wants to promote unity and prosperity, not division. Which is very much the policy of the SNP.”
Mr Clegg had said earlier in the week that if the conservatives press ahead with proposed welfare cuts he would not form a coalition with them again.
When asked who he would form a a coalition with he said: “I do feel very strongly and Bob feels very strongly that we as a party are now the only guarantor of the sort of the stability and strength and fairness and continuity that the country needs.
“If you just look at the alternatives you’ve got this prospect of Ed Milliband dancing to the tune of Nicola Sturgeon, borrowing and borrowing way beyond what we should...you’ve got this prospect of what we call BLUKIP, basically an alliance between the Conservative Party, UKIP, The DUP run by the right wing, wing of the Conservative Party, which would be very damaging to the country inflicting cuts on public services, way beyond what is justifiable so I think of all the scenarios I think that the only way that the North east of Scotland and Aberdeen and the economy of the local area is going to have the certainty and the continuity and the stability that it needs is to vote for Bob and to vote for the Liberal Democrats.
“I’m told by Bob that the Conservative candidate (Alexander Burnett) is running around and saying he’s going to win...he hasn’t got a hope in winning and the Conservative Party themselves don’t have a hope of winning a majority, it’s not a question of is David Cameron or Ed Milliband going to be in Number Ten, one of them will, but it’s who goes along side them. That is the big question.
“I think what people here want to avoid is instability and uncertainty and the only way to do that is by voting for Bob.”
When asked what he would say to WAK residents who have historically been Liberal Democrat voters for life but have switched allegiance based on the party’s record in government Mr Clegg said: “I’m incredibly proud of our record in government I’m not going to apologise for it no matter what anyone says in a letter to your paper.
“If you look back at the country...just compare it to five years ago...we could have been Greece! Our deficit was as bad as Greece’s, our banking crisis was a whole lot worse we could have been the next domino to fall and yet we have new figures showing that unemployment is at it’s lowest level since July 2007 before the great crash.
“That doesn’t come from nowhere, that comes from a lot of hard work from millions of people across the country but also from a lot of resilience from the government, which wouldn’t have been formed without us, putting the country before party...out of that we’ve delivered tax cuts, fairer pensions, apprenticeships, more money to schools with disadvantaged children.
“I couldn’t disagree more strongly with those disgruntled letter writers.
“Bob and I are really proud of what we have done. It wasn’t easy but at a time when people are so cynical and disenchanted with politics I think it’s no bad thing that there is a party willing to put country before party as we did five years ago.”