Grown up leadership from Nick Clegg

by Charlie_East_West on May 22, 2013


Despite all his naivety and misplaced positioning of the Lib Dems, one thing that I really admire about Nick Clegg is that he continues to raise his head above the parapet in times of trouble. He never shirks it.

His statement today will highlight that the coalition is lacking leadership and focus and he states that the behaviour of the Tory right has left the public bewildered. He goes on to add that it is time for governing rather than games, and that he will not allow the coalition to be broken up early for any political gain.

He accuses Tory MP’s of “dissappearing into a parliamentary rabbit warren, obsessing over this new tactic or that new trick; paving legislation, enabling referendums, wrecking amendments.”

All of this is in stark contrast to the feeble attitude of David Cameron – who does not display the same tough slap down approach to the nutters on the right.

As much as I disagree with Clegg’s misplaced coalition policies – I do admire his leadership and party political discipline. In fact, there is an emerging argument that the Lib Dems are teaching the Tories a thing or two about the art of government. They have remained both resolute and disciplined, unlike the Tories, who are now behaving like a bunch of spoilt children. In fact, this difference of governance maturity might just provide the Lib Dems a unique selling point at the next election.

All credit to him. Nick Clegg has exceedingly big bollocks. He might be heading for a slaughter at the 2015 election, but he is going down fighting.

More of this, and Nick Clegg might still get a vote from me.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

George_East May 22, 2013 at 10:16 am

Oh Jesus fuck no. There is nothing brave in it at all. Clegg needs the coalition to survive and to do that he needs Cameron to survive. If there is a Tory coup and Cameron goes, the Coalition goes and there is an early election. His only strategy because of his disastrous decision to enter the coalition in the first place is to play for time and hope there is a recovery and voters ‘thank him for making the brave decision to go into Coalition’. Listening to Clegg arse lick Cameron this morning told you all you need to know.

And even if you are right brave for what purpose? Bravely privitising the NHS, bravely dismantling the state, bravely pursuing failed austerity economics, (or to get lib demmy) bravely failing to deliver electoral reform or House of Lords reform.

I very much wish he’d get back in his box and shut the fuck up.


Charlie_East_West May 22, 2013 at 10:24 am

My article highlights party discipline in government. Nothing more.

I have been an open critic of the policy approach of the Lib Dems in government, and will continue to do so. However, the schisms of the Tories over same-sex marriage, immigration, UKIP and Europe have shown up their little coalition brother in a much more favourable light in terms of party discipline.


Eddie Kaye May 22, 2013 at 10:49 am

Sorry Charlie, but aren’t the EU, immigration and same-sex marriage likely to be more divisive issues naturally for the Tories – and to a lesser degree Labour? All three are issues the Lib Dems have a history of better unity on, I would hardly call conforming to type as a sign of bravery.

Truth be told, the 2010-2015 legacy for Clegg and the Lib Dems will be one of ultimate political cowering and cowardice. Prefering their minesterial cars to principle, and bolstering an uber-thatcherite agenda, against their own manifesto, and without proper mandate – and all for a poorly worded referendum on PR and boundary changes that won’t happen. I see nothing brave in all of that.


Charlie_East_West May 22, 2013 at 10:55 am

Eddie – yes, I agree that these issues are natural habitats for Tory unrest – but their behaviour has gone way too far. I doubt that the Lib Dems would ever have behaved in such an unprofessional, zealous, and undignified manner over any policy.

We are all in agreement about the massive mistakes that the Lib Dems have made in this coalition. They have betrayed their core supporter. But, their behaviour in power has been much more dignified and classy than the Tories. That is all I am suggesting. Nothing more.

The Lib Dems need to stay in the coalition for a critical tactical reason – lessening the odds of a Tory victory in 2015. The combination of the right wing Tory nutters and Lib Dems is forcing Cameron to overstretch in two directions. This problem will not go away and the longer it goes on, the worse it will get for the Tories – day by day lessening their chances in 2015. That is why it is important for the Lib Dems to stay in and allow the Tory meltdown to develop further.


Eddie Kaye May 22, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I understand where you are coming from Charlie, I am afraid I just can’t see it. Calling their actions in not behaving as appaulingly as the Tories ‘bravery’ just does not ring true. The Tory right was always going to react ina bull like fashion to UKIP’s red rag, and I think it is the measure of both the unholy alliance between Cameron and factions of his own party, plus the man’s utter ineptitude as a leader of a major political party – let alone the Government.

The Lib Dems are a bit less prone to internal meltdown – maybe being the third party has instilled some kind of siege mentality. I still feel that true bravery from Clegg would have been keeping party discipline, but making principled stands within the coalition, not simply going along for the ride. I get the impression that Lord Ashdown could have done that – that would have been commendable as bravery.

Charlie_East_West May 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Mark my words – we are only at the start of the Tory meltdown in power (which always makes it worse. Case study: 1992-1997). The 2014 Euro elections will make it even worse for the Tories. If the Lib Dems stick it out, they will at least have some credit in terms of dignity (that is all they have), and it will cause the Tories to become unelectable by 2015, and finally eat themselves up for good beyond that. That is the ultimate goal, and it could happen. I suspect half of the Tory parliamentary team will join UKIP just after the European elections.

This needs to be played out. If any good is to come of the Lib Dems in the coalition, then they need to allow this to be played out. Death by a thousand cuts is the best approach. The Lib Dems stay in, and it allows the Tories to get even worse, split even more and basically make them unelectable.

Play the long game.


George_East May 22, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Eddie – for what its worth there are pretty deep divisions about this post amongst the allthatsleft team. I think that Lib Dem discipline is undoubtedly there, but it has been used for all manner of bad shit that frankly could have been prevented. In the circumstances I’d prefer a lot less discipline if the result had been no Health and Social Care Act (and remember that was Clegg’s for the spiking) and no austerity programme.

Similarly my view is that it is far from certain that Tory travails will continue in the way that they have over the last few months. They may do, but equally UKIP may start to fade and with gay marriage out of the way there won’t be another flash point for a while. As of now the Tories are an unelectable, riven rabble. They would go down to a crushing defeat if there was an election tomorrow. I’d take that now over a future possibility every day of the week. The Lib Dems are not going to walk out of the Coalition because they require to succeed not because they hope the Tories will fail.

And as for the possibility of actually voting for a Clegg led Lib Dems, you don’t want to get me started on that one.


Charlie_East_West May 22, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I would say a workable disagreement rather than deep divisions in the ATL team. You make us sound like the Tories…

I was joking on the vote front. I cannot vote for a party that is culpable by association with the Tories. But, I am impressed with Nick Clegg’s dignity and grace under fire. I am also impressed with the Lib Dems coalition discipline. These two themes of culpability by Tory association and respect for party discipline do not have to be mutually exclusive.


George_East May 22, 2013 at 4:17 pm

A workable disagreement over whether there are deep divisions.


Charlie_East_West May 22, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Yes. I now formally resign to spend more time with my family.


George_East May 22, 2013 at 4:38 pm

You can’t do that – I’ve got the photos.

Charlie_East_West May 23, 2013 at 8:24 am

Nick Clegg – professional and statesmanlike – It appears that I am not alone in thinking this…


George_East May 23, 2013 at 9:21 am

Yeah – but Martin Kettle. Clegg’s personal ratings are at a record low for the year at -61% (only two points off his record low ever). It looks like the public continue rightly to view Clegg with abject contempt.


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