Liberal Democrats – Are you watching Borgen?

by Charlie_East_West on November 20, 2013


I love Borgen. I love Denmark. I love Birgitte Nyborg.

Borgen has just started its third and final series with the usual chattering class fanfare and great reviews. Its surprise global success is due to a gripping story of political intrigue within Danish coalition politics. It offers a vivid portrayal of a charismatic woman and her battle to fight for her political beliefs whilst maintaining her integrity and her desperate attempt to balance her career with her family life. It also has a wonderful support cast highlighting the compromises and paradoxes within the political and media elite in Denmark.

The star of the show however is Nyborg, as played by the wonderful Sidse Babett Knudsen. She is a complex mix of ambition, charisma, relentless idealism and that smile. I would give just about anything for her character to be a real person in real politics in real time in the UK.

The new series of Borgen immediately opens with the Moderate Party having lost the general election and now cosying up to the right wingers to form a new coalition government. Nyborg meanwhile, has quit as leader of the Moderates and is on the lecture circuit gravy train while the Moderates are getting into bed with the reactionary anti-immigrationists on the right. To cut a long story very short, by the end of episode two Nyborg has quit the Moderate Party and has now set up her own new political party in protest at the ideological bankruptcy within her old Moderate Party.

The new plot line rings a bell in the UK. It focuses on a liberal moderate party losing its principles and jumping into bed with a more dominant right wing political party to form a coalition. Remind you of anyone?

Yes, this story is like a mirror image of the Liberal Democrats. The only difference is that they currently have no charismatic leader willing to stand up for their principles, who has a willingness to say that what they are doing is morally bankrupt, and if push comes to shove – is strong enough to walk away and set up something new.

Perhaps it is an ideological pipe dream of mine (as a disenfranchised Liberal and former Lib Dem employee) that I still hope for a UK version of Nyborg to stand up and be counted and offer something radically different on the liberal left of our political landscape.

If this did happen, who are the likely liberal candidates to make it happen?

1. Charles Kennedy
One of the great contemporary Shakespearean tragedies in British politics. He was a successful Lib Dem leader who was largely loved by the rank and file of his party, only to be ousted by a spot of anti-liberal skulduggery against his alleged drinking habits. Here is a man with intellect, charisma and political integrity who has been completely marginalised by the Orange Bookers who have created their own coup d’état within the Lib Dems. At present, I do not see what he is getting out of remaining within the Lib Dems. He would have nothing to lose by becoming the figurehead of a new liberal movement.

2. Simon Hughes
He was once the former darling of the liberal left, but now resides in a slow descent into Dante’s political inferno that is ridden with confused political beliefs. He continues to work hard to offer platitude based soundbites on the work of the coalition. But the look in his eyes is an increasingly haunted one.

3. Menzies Campbell
A brilliant and principled politician. He is retiring at the next General Election. 10 years ago, he would have been perfect.

4. Tim Farron
He has consistently played a rather canny game with the coalition. He supports the more moderate policy decisions, but has recently positioned himself at a safe distance from some of the more hard line right wing policies – like the recent Bedroom Tax legislation. He is biding his time for 2015 – for a leadership bid after the almost certain fall of Nick Clegg.

5. Vince Cable
A bit like Tim Farron in terms of playing a game to appeal to both sides of the party, but with the baggage of government weighing heavily on his shoulders. Vince Cable is consistently fighting a damage limitation exercise to protect his leadership chances after 2015. But, he took the golden ticket of ministerial responsibility and as such, is culpable by association. His role in the Royal Mail fire sale does not help him.

5. Nick Clegg
Perhaps one day he will wake up and have a massive moment of epiphany. Perhaps he will march into Whitehall to host a press conference and say, “sod this for a game of soldiers. I apologise for what I have done. It is a bloody mess. I have now seen the light. With immediate effect, the Liberal Democrats are leaving the coalition, and here is what we are now going to do to repair the country.”
But, this ain’t going to happen. It is too late. He is completely lost to the game. He remains in a perpetual state of delusional grandeur.

6. Ray North
The perfect person to lead a new liberal political party. A former party insider who is now an outsider. This is a man who has it all. A man possessed with gravitas, charm and charisma. A great orator who is blessed with a core set of political beliefs that would reasonate with liberals across the country.

Ray North is the liberal future. He is our Birgitte Nyborg waiting to happen…

I hereby formally announce Ray North as my nomination to lead a new liberal political party. Welcome to Ray North, The Leader of The Liberal Progressives.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ray_North November 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm

You’re too kind Charlie – alas I feel I’m more Bob Ford than Gerald Ford!


Charlie_East_West November 20, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Bob Ford is still loved by his electorate. Warts and all.


George_East November 20, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Rob Ford won his election, which is more than you can say for Gerald Ford.


Charlie_East_West November 20, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Ray North. Political giant in waiting…


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