Nick Clegg: Why you should vote for my party

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Grace leads Royal Marine musicians on board Britannia

Nick’s swansong on Britannia is a proud moment

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AMID all the breathless speculation and ever-changing predictions, there’s one thing all the pundits, pollsters and forecasters agree on about next month’s election.

No-one is going to win it outright. The choice before you on May 7 is therefore not who will be prime minister, but who you want sitting round the Cabinet table, and who you want representing you in parliament.

With 10 successful years as leader of the city council, and a fearsome reputation for defending your city, Gerald Vernon-Jackson has an unrivalled record of delivery for Portsmouth.

Gerald is the definition of a local champion.

He stopped the last Labour government from pulling the Royal Navy out of Portsmouth, and made sure that the two new carriers were manufactured and will be based right here in Portsmouth Dockyard.

Gerald’s campaigning has strengthened the local economy and helped to secure thousands of jobs in the shipyard – guaranteeing the future of the navy in Portsmouth for decades to come.

Gerald has also fought for a fairer society.

His leadership was critical in the city council decision to provide a loan to the Supporters’ Trust back in 2013, paving the way for fans to take over the club after years of instability. Gerald and the Lib Dem team delivered 1,000 more school places, started building council houses for the first time in a generation, and saved the city’s beautiful theatres. Gerald will be an incredibly passionate and effective MP for Portsmouth.

But the question at this election isn’t just about who is best to be your local MP: voters also need to ask who should hold the balance of power in a hung parliament?

Imagine for a moment, what will become of Britain in the next five years if Nigel Farage and his friends on the right wing of the Conservative Party are calling the shots – a BLUKIP coalition.

Our public services would be cut to the bone; our communities divided; our shared British values of decency, tolerance and generosity cast aside.

The Liberal Democrats will add a heart to a Conservative government and a brain to a Labour one.

We won’t allow the Conservatives to cut too much and jeopardise Portsmouth’s schools and hospitals, and we won’t allow Labour to borrow too much and risk our economy again.

Who holds the balance of power in Britain the morning after polling day matters.

The only people standing between BLUKIP and real power are Liberal Democrat candidates in battleground seats just like this one.

Every vote in Portsmouth South will make the difference. In fact, Portsmouth South voters live in one of a small number seats that will decide who holds the balance of power in this election.

This makes your individual vote more powerful than ever before. A Conservative win here in Portsmouth South brings a BLUKIP coalition a step closer – and leaves the Tories free to pursue the things Liberal Democrats have stopped: bosses being able sack people without a good reason; schools run for a profit, and cuts to the pay of workers living outside London.

A vote for Gerald Vernon-Jackson won’t just deliver an MP with a proven record, but can stop a hard-right Tory government dancing to Ukip’s tune.

The Liberal Democrats will cut less than the Tories and borrow less than Labour.

We will always act responsibly and fairly to put the interests of the whole country first. We will balance the books while protecting public services - investing more in our children’s education and the NHS.

We are the only party that will stop Labour from ruining the economy again and burdening future generations with their misspent debt. We are the only party that can prevent a BLUKIP alliance from dismantling our public services, destroying our environment and putting the super-rich first.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson has proven what he can do for Portsmouth South, and the Liberal Democrats have proven what we can do in government. With our feet firmly planted in the centre, only we can create a stronger economy and a fairer society, with opportunity for everyone.