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Ben Chu: Is Nick Clegg getting above himself?

Posted by Eagle Eye
  • Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 11:16 am

Meet Nick Clegg - A fresh start for Britain.
Who on earth does he think he is?


Is Nick Clegg standing on a dishonest "anti-politics" platform?

That’s what Labour and the Tories argue (see
here and here).

And several commentators, including my colleagues
Steve Richards, John Rentoul and Rachel Sylvester of The Times suggest the same.

It's a superficially compelling thesis. After all, there was Clegg in those television debates, presenting himself and his party as somehow above the fray of traditional grubby party politics, seeming to suggest that there are easy answers to difficult issues, when there simply aren't. Isn't it all a triumph of style over substance? And aren't the public being led down a dangerous path?

I'm far from convinced by this critique. I'm willing to accept that the Liberal Democrats are too shy of discussing the major challenges facing Britain - from how to reduce greenhouse emissions, to dealing with the deficit, to extricating our forces from Afghanistan. And there are elements of their policies which are not fully formed (as John has pointed out
here in respect of Trident). But are they any worse than the other two parties in this respect? To accuse the Lib Dems of lacking substance, while failing to mention the shortcomings of Labour and the Tories, is surely a case of double standards.

And as for Clegg posing as being above the fray of normal politics, this is one of the oldest tricks in the political book. What does David Cameron's "vote for change" slogan amount to except a vacuous appeal to kick out Labour because they've been in power for a while? What about Gordon Brown's sporadic and rather unsuccessful attempts to pose as the "father of the nation"? Again, to present the Liberal Democrats as uniquely disingenuous in this regard is surely nonsense.

Isn't Clegg's real crime in the eyes of many of his critics not the fact that he is some sort of "anti-politics" demagogue, but that he is rather too successful a politician for their liking?For me, this somewhat prissy and one-eyed response to the surge in Liberal Democrat support suggests an unarticulated underlying attitude: that the Liberal Democrats have got above themselves and should leave power to the big boys.


Directions. And locations.
junkkmale wrote:
Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 11:55 am (UTC)
Hard to answer what is in another's mind.

Though agreed some actions can be a guide.

But I am in no doubt from the plethora of written evidence who in the media remora pool is well up themselves, and certain pols, by now.
None of the thesis proposers support Clegg......
rhysjaggar wrote:
Tuesday, 27 April 2010 at 07:29 pm (UTC)
So of course they'll raise objections.

If a few LibDems said the same, it'd be far more damning.

I think he's running on a real set of propositions, some of which I disagree with.

I disagree with him about the dangers of climate change and I'm tired of untrained, unqualified non-scientists attacking those who side with many scientists and engineers who are not beholden to IPCC dogma and who study measurements not computer models.

I agree with him about a £10k tax free zone. I don't on the mansion tax.

I like his ideas on smaller class sizes.

Where we still need to hear from all parties is how they will tackle the deficit.

He's right to say politics must change. It's starting, but there's a long way to go. Hopefully all the new intake will be the primary shakers.

I'm for PR. Of course the DT isn't. It's pathologically opposed to anything that stops permanent Tory rule, which is why it's attacked Clegg so much recently. I am more optimistic as I see a larger number of sentient, thinking independents coming into Parliament in future, not the zombified lobby fodder of the past. Mr Cameron will be a retrograde step in that regard, but I think it will be temporary. I might be wrong, but I think the deep and settled will of the people now is electing the best defenders of the public interest, not the best defenders of the political parties. It usually takes up to a generation for the settled will to become the operational reality....

I like much of what the Tories propose but hate the harder elements of the DT writing staff who make me want to hang them occasionally, although my principled opposition to hanging means it won't happen. Their understanding of human nature is so lacking that they'd be lynched at any well-rounded public meeting........but I respect their right to hold their opinions, except when they say letting people die is an acceptable way to bring people to forced labour. For that I think they should lose their jobs. As I do when they defend paedophilia in religion but decry jokes in poor taste.....

I don't notice Mr Clegg running co-ordinated Press campaigns to smear Mr Cameron. Do you? That is anti-politics and it is the domain of James Murdoch and his editors, along with the Mail etc etc. I'm amazed Murdoch Jnr hasn't been told that his participation in politics should be proportional to his payment of UK corporation taxes........

But then, as he thinks he's the heir to the Throne, why would paying taxes be something HE'S expected to do, eh????


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