Week 7: Prat – Ed Davey

by George_East on February 18, 2013

prat_iconA slightly belated announcement for last week’s Prat of the Week award caused by an appalling wifi connection in the Berlin apartment in which I have stayed over the last few days. Anyway the Award  goes to Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and Lib Dem MP for Kingston and Surbiton,  Ed Davey.  This is Davey’s first Award and we heartily congratulate him on the style with which he has achieved it.

What would your answer to this political nerd pub question be:  who is the greatest leader the Lib Dems have ever had?  The most obvious candidate is probably four times Prime Minister and great Victorian reformer, William Gladstone. 

But cases could certainly be made for Lloyd George and Herbert Asquith, both of whom led important administrations.  Those of you with a little more political history might possibly go for Henry Campbell-Bannerman who, after all, led his party to a landslide victory in the historic 1906 election.   If you like your liberalism more robust there is always Lord Palmerston.    I can even see that there might even be a case for Jo Grimond,  who was perhaps responsible for the party’s continued existence when breathed dynamism into it after he took over the leadership at the nadir of the party’s fortunes in the mid-1950s.

Now the smart arses amongst you might object to this list of Liberal greats getting a look in at all.    You might argue that although they might be Liberal greats, they are not Liberal Democrat greats (an interesting concept in itself).  So let’s restrict ourselves to the leaders of the party that came out of the merger of the SDP and the old Liberal Party.

The argument  would surely be between, on the one hand the advocates of Paddy Ashdown, who led the party for its first 11 years of existence and led it to its significant electoral breakthrough in the 1997 election.   And on the other the advocates of Charles Kennedy who led the Lib Dems through two general election and brought the Party to the peak of its electoral success in the 2005 election, with 62 seats, and through his opposition to the Iraq war was the only one of the three major party leaders of the time, to call the biggest foreign policy issue of recent times correctly.

That is, of course, unless of course you are Ed Davey, appearing on a Sunday political show.  In which case the answer to the question I have just posed is Jeremy Thorpe, Nick Clegg.  Yep, you read that correctly. 

According to our esteemed Energy and Climate Change Secretary, the greatest ever Lib Dem leader is the leader who led his party into government with an extremistTory Party and promptly saw its opinion poll rating drop through the floor, as he discovered that, surprise surprise, a large proportion of Lib Dem voters were not particularly keen on the turbo-charged Thatcherism of his government.  The leader who led his party into voting in favour of tuition fees despite the highest of high profile pledges during the election campaign not to do so, thereby destroying his party’s ability to position itself as trustworthy and different to other parties (however much bullshit that always was).  The leader who led his party into voting for the Health Social Care Bill opening the floodgates to mass privatisation of the NHS, and invoked his dead grandfather as one of the Bill’s supporters.  The leader whose personal ratings are so low that he is beginning to rival Gordon Brown as the most unpopular politician of recent times.    

Yep, Nick Clegg.   The Greatest.   Ed Davey.  The Prattiest.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Charlie_East_West February 19, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Charles Kennedy was treated appallingly by the Lib Dem hierarchy. Ditto Menzies Campbell. For so called Liberals to oust their leaders because of alcoholism and age smacks of deep rooted hypocrisy, power at all costs, and misplaced ideology. It served as a warning to what was to follow within the coalition.


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