Nick Clegg: Dignified Statesman or Posturing Chump?

by Ray_North on May 23, 2013

images-2There have been a few signs over the last few weeks that Nick Clegg has a new strategy, and it is this: stand in front of any camera or microphone available, shake his head ruefully and lament the terrible situation that the ‘swivel eyed loonies’ from the Tories are in, whilst claiming that his party, is doing a great job saving us all from their excess and how if it wasn’t for us, these nut-jobs would be governing on their own.

Some, including our very own Charlie East-West have been impressed by this – and I sort of get that, there is a rather obvious logic to anyone portraying themselves as distinct from the Tory party, especially as it is currently embroiled in what may end up as a fight to the death.

But, for me, and I come from a similar Lib-Dem background to Charlie, Nick Clegg’s current attempt at ‘dignified statesmanship’ make him even more hollow and more inept than ever.

And I’ve come to that conclusion (having considered an huge number of e-mails from my colleagues Charlie and George who’ve bickered about this for the last 24 hours solid) for three reasons:

First, by declaring himself bewildered by the lack of leadership offered from the Tories, Nick Clegg ignores the basic fact that he went into coalition with them. Anyone, with the slightest knowledge of politics and political history could have told Nick Clegg in 2010, that the modern twenty first century Tory Party is a powder-keg, a strange alliance of old conservatism, modern Thatcherites and wild-eyed loonies who just hate everyone. They were never going to give David Cameron an easy ride of it, and as such a coalition with people who are convinced of their own righteousness was always going to be an almost impossible task. Nick Clegg should have known that – claiming surprise now is like getting married to someone with a long record of infidelity and being shocked when you find them in bed with the milkman.

Second, he asserts that only the Lib-Dems are providing Leadership – well, that in a even more troubling. This coalition has done its level best to destroy the NHS, the economy, our education system, our welfare system and our Criminal Justice system, with the total, indeed at times enthusiastic connivance of the Lib-Dems, if, as Nick Clegg would have us believe that not only have they been acquiescing in this catalogue of disasters, but have been providing the leadership to bring it about, then that is even more worrying.

Third, actually, what Nick Clegg is engaged it right now, is political posturing of a rather shameful kind – be in no doubt whatsoever about it, Nick Clegg is engaged in a concerted attempt to make political gain out of the mess that David Cameron, and the Tory party currently find itself in. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, if there was any principle behind it, but there isn’t. Nick Clegg is not saying, the lack of leadership within the coalition is terrible, let’s bring the whole sorry party to an end, what he is saying, is, the lack of leadership has nothing to do with me governor, but, I’m still going to go ahead with it. He is whinging, he is pointing the finger at his accomplice and saying, well, it wasn’t me, he made me do it. It is as far removed from dignified statesmanship as one could possibly imagine.

As I’ve said before on these pages, Nick Clegg was right to allow the Tories first chance to form a government, he was probably right (though having read Alan Johnson’s account in recent weeks, I’m less sure about this), not to go into coalition with Labour, but, he should have stood firm and told the Tories, that he would not support an economic policy that would stymie growth and a social policy that was at odds to the fundamental principles of his party. That would have been dignified statesmanship, that would have been proper leadership, that would have been the ‘tough decision’ he likes to trumpet. His failure to do that, plus just about everything that he has done since, renders him, in my opinion, a total and utter political chump.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Charlie_East_West May 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I have said my bit on this. Like Nick Clegg, I will keep a dignified distance from this debate…for at least the next five minutes…

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Mike Killingworth May 26, 2013 at 7:34 am

Shirley Williams said at the time that Clegg had no alternative. She was surely right: apart from the adverse Parliamentary arithmetic, Clegg had to assume that people hadn’t voted Lib Dem for him to jump into bed with Gordon Brown.

The one clear success of this government is the positive personal chemistry between PM and Deputy PM. It may be this, as much as any policy issue, that winds up so many Tories. They have all forgotten why they elected Cameron in the first place. So have I, so have you (I reckon) and so has the rest of the blogosphere…

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