Posts Tagged ‘Nick Clegg’
Cameron defies Clegg over Lord Ashcroft defence job
David Cameron gave a government advisory post to Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft despite objections from Nick Clegg, the BBC understands.
The muscular liberalism is looking a bit limp wristed.
I hate to agree with the Daily Mail headline today, but AV really was not in democracy’s favour. A resounding defeat has been considered by some of my young political friends as a reactionary rejection against the people’s interests, or a bloody nose for Clegg. I think the truth is that people want a choice that really means your vote counts to a final result wherever you live, and that the choice presented to us must be based on political consensus and not based on a back-room deal for forming a government.
Am I on the left? On social policy yes, but my tutor in economics is Adam Smith not Marx. I despise any political group that sees the people as a means to achieving their ideals and society rather than the people being empowered with liberty and freedom from want to chose. Any political elite that fails in liberty and economic freedom of any colour deserves contempt.
Nick Clegg made the right decision in forming a coalition with the Conservatives to provide a crdeible government that could last a full term. I may not be happy but it was the minimum winning coalition that Labour failed to offer with it’s dismal showing at the election. It is easy to bicker but we must accept that the Conservatives call the shots not the Liberals with less than 1/5 of the electorate wanting all their policies. The Conservative supporters will not desert them because they knew what austerity measures would happen. The council elections would bear this out. If Middle England starts to hurt badly Conservative support could turn.
Andrew Brown, of The Guardian, has done a brilliant blog on why the left hates Nick Clegg which I repost below. No blog this Sunday 8 May.
Why does the left hate Nick Clegg?
The deputy prime minister is a scapegoat for the fact that even Lib Dem voters don’t really want a more open and equal country
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 7 May 2011 16.00 BST
Nick Clegg … Is he taking the blame for the Lib Dem’s longstanding unpopularity? Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Why does the left so hate Nick Clegg? Even to ask this question here suggests an appalling failure to grasp the obvious. The left, so far as Comment is free is concerned, is practically defined by people who hate Nick Clegg. This is an atmosphere in which someone can write “I really think this is one of Steve [Bell]‘s all time bests – Hitler, bin Laden and now Clegg!” and it passes without comment. No amount of reasoning is going to shift this, which is why I am interested in the phenomenon.
I think that the explanation is a discreditable and unfortunate one, best understood by returning to an embarrassing time: our leader proclaiming that the last election was “a liberal moment”. It wasn’t. How could so many clever, nice people (as our leader writers are) get things so wrong?
The answer is that we had failed to notice that when they are given a vote, the British do not in fact want liberal policies much, and they certainly don’t get excited about them. They don’t actually believe they live in a secular democracy, and they don’t much want to, either. Compare the excitement generated by the royal wedding with that about the AV referendum. If we really thought that democratic politics said as much, as interestingly, about being British as the wedding does, there would surely have been a great deal more excitement about this.
Sometimes there is. I remember the fall of Thatcher as an electric moment, and the election of Tony Blair. But for the most part, democracy is like drains. You miss it dreadfully when it’s not there. But you don’t want to think much about drains or democracy, and the people who think that the most glamorous and impressive bits of their house are the bathroom fittings are just weird.
The failure of the Lib Dems and their projects is the simple and endlessly repeated proof of this. But it is difficult to keep going in politics with the idea of being part of a perpetual minority. So we need ways to work around the failure and unpopularity of Lib Dem policies, and in this light hatred of Clegg is a simple scapegoating mechanism. Does anyone seriously suppose that any other Lib Dem leader could have played the hand differently or better? I know he’s been on telly, but is Vince Cable really so charismatic that he could have turned back a 68% to 32% defeat, even if he had danced for it?
The hatred over student fees in particular is evidence that even Liberal Democrat voters don’t want a more open and equal country. Of course, the Lib Dems knew this, which is why in opposition they took up a policy of “free” education for university students. “Free”, because someone still has to pay for the whole thing; just not the beneficiaries. There is nothing particularly rightwing about student loans: the Swedish social democrats introduced them in 1960, under Olof Palme, when he was minister of education. The outcry against them comes from people who see themselves losing a privilege they had considered as a right. There’s a word for that, and it’s not “liberal”.
Hatred of Clegg is concentrated on the fact that he betrayed some of the policies he ran on; but he did so because the country voted against them. That’s democracy. Sometimes the majority is wrong. Sometimes it disagrees with you. But the majority still gets to decide, as the Lib Dems, in coalition, have discovered. There’s no reason whatever that a party with 23% of the votes should get 100% of its programme through. The people who think it should are not being democratic.
If even Lib Dem supporters are neither liberal nor democratic, it’s hard to see why the rest of the country should vote for their – our – policies either. But to admit this is just about impossible. It so much easier and more satisfying simply to hate Clegg.
Will Liberal support crumble, Tories take a battering and Labour win back seats and councils now they are in opposition? More then likely – the question is whether this shows confidence in Ed Milliband or dislike of austerity measures under the coalition. The later as negative is more likely to motivate people to a ballot box when you consider how in first past the post (FPTP) the chance of your mattering is slim unless contest in your seat even.
That we may get rid of FPTP will be because people want a Labour/liberal coalition to be more likely. The desire to hurt Nick Clegg for going through the door 10 Downing Street with Cameron would be a misjudgement for the left. However AV really is a dilution of political choice, rather than an accurate reflection of votes cast equalling seats in parliament.
To American readers, where Democrat and Republican is the choice this may seem mute. Your primaries give you the chance to choose the candidate from your party before the General Election in the way ours does not. Here a handful of party hacks usually select candidates.
The Labour left may not agree with my analysis because they may fear always needing liberal support. They would rightly take the neo classical liberals as a threat to a radical labour government. That forgets that Labour wins by taking and defending the centre ground. Tony Blair, he and his party management knew how to do this. Brown did not. Milliband needs to learn how to and appear a real credible alternative government in waiting.
I will not be staying up for the results. A good night’s sleep much more exciting. But if you cannot sleep you may want to read the other blogs on the Alternative Vote system (AV).
Nick Clegg’s speech closing the Liberal Democrat Conferencecan be found here.
Even an atheist can use god to make a point, in his speech about children:
Children are inspirational.
Miriam and I can’t wait to be parents again.
I love the way children see the world.
There was a great story I heard recently about a little girl, doing a painting in class.
The teacher comes over and says – what are you painting?
And the girl says – God.
So the teacher says – But no-one one knows what God looks like.
The girl says – they will in a minute.
Children don’t see barriers.
When you’re a child – everything is possible.
Labour is a zombie government ” a cross between Shaun of the Dead and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” while on David Cameron “You have to admire, I suppose, the sheer gall of someone who worked for Margaret Thatcher claiming he cares about poverty.”
He compared New Labour of 1997 to the “Blue Labour” of the Conservatives now. It seemed that he was pitching for traditional Conservative voters that went to Labour from 1997 but are thinking of going back to the Conservatives. Contrasting Conservative anti-EU feeling with an increasingly belligerent Russia and the need for increasing international cooperation was just one example of contrasts between Conservatives in what they said and what they planned to do.
He spoke of the Liberal Democrat party:
We grow every year.
We’ve been in government in Scotland. In Wales.
We run more big cities in England than any other party.
At the last General Election we won 6 million votes, more than any other liberal party in Europe.
Together we will double our MPs in Westminster.
And at the next general election we’ll take a giant leap towards that goal.
We can do it because we are the vanguard of British politics.
We have been at the forefront of a revolution in ideas.
The first to fight for women’s rights, gay rights, human rights.
The first to understand the problem of climate change.
The first to see the economic crisis on the horizon.
The first to see the vital role of liberal interventionism in international affairs.
And the first to see its limits – and oppose the illegal invasion of Iraq.
Realistically though the question is what will the Liberal Democrats do if they hold the balance of power? Would they form a coalition government as they did in Scotland and Wales (with Labour, though out now) or be independent forcing through it’s manifesto? The latter has usually been the policy line.
That need not be a hindrance if the Lib Dems can create a policy identity. One that says fairer taxes, less taxes for the lower paid, an education system that frees teachers to teach without bureaucracy putting their hands behind their backs, and puts decision making in the hands of the community rather than Whitehall.
However with the £20 billion promised in spending cuts, and in particular talking up Vince Cable (who by Conservatives is perhaps the most respected Lib Dem) in economic management it seems that the emphasis is not being squeezed by the Conservatives rather than a focus on replacing Labour.
The next election will see if this strategy works. The only thing that seems certain is in opinion polls people have gone from Labour to Conservative. While Lib Dem candidates can be second to Labour or Conservative incumbents, the question is that being all things to all people is not working. Clegg spoke about social justice and cutting taxes at the bottom and to be the most redistributive tax policy of any party. The aim seems to be appealing more to would be Conservative supporters compared to the past.
Policy is one thing, but you need to be in power to enact this. Whether the Lib Dems have the strategy to do this, and the resources to have key tactics in place at target seats is unclear. On that I am skeptical. That is ok – because it’s liberal to be skeptical according Nick Clegg. But to make the changes that need to happen the Lib Dems need to be a force to be reckoned with either in terms of a poll bounce or actual seats won at the next election.
It was a good first speech by the new Liberal Democrat leader. But as the last leader found out Clegg needs to do better in opinion polls soon. Otherwise Dave Cameron’s quip that his favourite political joke at the moment is “Nick Clegg” will stick. Certainly if Clegg targets supporters moving from Labour to the Conservatives and it backfires it will be. With the left in British politics being drowning in the deep blue.
Also the 250,000 people that apparently are being phoned for “market research” on behalf of the Lib Dems may land the party in trouble over cold calling rules. That together with Nick Clegg getting the weekly pension wrong does not bode well.
The new Liberal Democrat leader in the UK on radio saying he did not believe in god is not really news – he gave the main speech at the Lib Dem Humanist and Secular dinner a while back. However, even the BBC has given a tabloid like treatment to the news.
I wrote about the reason for a new leader here. Clegg is on the classical liberal side while the challenger he narrowly saw off (though Clegg had more MP support, in the leadership rules my vote is equal to an MPs) Chris Huhne is more of the social democratic type. The Lib Dems formed by a merger of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party (the SDP in turn being formed by the gang of four MPs that previously had been Labour Cabinet Ministers).
Most of the reaction has been that it is not really an issue. The Archbishop of Canterbury weighed in saying honesty and responsibility were far more important than the religious or otherwise opinions of politicians. A documentary of Tony Blair recently covered his religious belief and his term in office - though the interview was so tame that when he refused to answer a question it just stopped (thank goodness it was David Frost and not this team that interviewed Nixon!).
Having said that Nixon was a Quaker. The actions and character of a person are much more important things to judge someone by. Having said that I remember in my younger days when I was a Labour activist (just before leaving the party in disgust because they did a U turn in office and introduced tuition fess for university causing a housing crisis for students that did not take their gap year, that took months to sort out) trying to get the vote out for Ben Bradshaw in Exeter while I studied there.
On the door, some people refused to support him, even though they were Labour, because he was gay. Even the Conservatives locally made it an issue – stating do not let the pink flag fly above the town hall. When Labour won in 1997 and Bradshaw won I was elated. Only to become bitterly disappointed, not just with the party but also when Bradshaw attacked John Simpson for reporting that NATO bombing had brought the people of Serbia together with the campaign that they were all targets – Ben was wheeled out because he was a journalist himself and his character assassination attempt on Newsnight backfired.
Gordon Brown has his moral compass from his lay preaching father, David Cameron has opportunity and social mobility, and it would seem that Nick Clegg’s is about personal individual freedom and Brian Eno (to get in touch with younger voters).
Well we will see how it all pans out.