After reading the excellent pice by Olly Grender inThe New Statesman entitled Clegg can’t walk on water and the interview Jemima Khan did with the Deputy Prime Minister in the same magazine it brings up some excellent points.
Whatever happens at this current juncture Nick Clegg will be vilified. If he found the cure to the common cold there would newspapers and media outlets who’d say that he was putting 1000s of people out of work who work in the cough syrup/throat lozenge/paracetamol etc… industry. This is certainly not ideal but that is the world we live in. If you listened to just the media and were unable to form your own opinion then you’d believe that he is the most hated person in world politics of all time. He is the person who made the decision to spurn Labour in the 2010 coalition talks to go with the Tories – the party who received more votes and MPs at the General Election. Coupled that with having to go back on his pledge regarding tuition fees then there are two very high-profile sets of people who dislike him.
The truth is that Labour will attack anyone who dares disagree with them. They showed during the talks to form a potential coalition that they wanted the Lib Dems to prop them up and not be in a proper coalition. They basically wanted a Labour government with Lib Dem votes. If Labour wanted a Labour government then quite simply they should have won more seats at the General Election. They didn’t and therefore the country showed they didn’t want a Labour government. They claim that the Lib Dems are now Tory stooges and they prop up a Tory government but that is what they wanted for themselves. It would have been fine that way round but it wasn’t to be.
Also the mainstream media who are pro-Tory will be anti-Lib Dem because they want to ensure that in the future there is no coalition and a full-on Tory government. The majority of the written media are led by editors who still live in a two-party world but I’m afraid that world is not where this country lives anymore. 34% of votes in 2010 went for parties other than the two main parties. As younger people takeover as editors of newspapers then the media will adapt but at this current juncture the dinosaurs are scared and hate the idea that the political world isn’t where it was. A 3rd and potentially more parties having policy influence will make it much harder to lobby and bend the laws for their own greasy needs.
The media will change. It will have to change but the mainstream media probably has a decade or two left in them to kick the Lib Dems and other parties around. So the future is here. The future is right here on the worldwide interweb. Olly makes a terrific point that social media and the blogosphere are still growing and will continue to do so. Young people these days are less inclined to vote for the same party through loyalty for life and are ready to be wooed by whatever the parties say. This means that MPs and prospective MPs will have to listen more to what their constituents think. This is surely a good thing.
These days any Tom, Dick or Harry (or Neil) can set up a blog or a twitter account and have 100s of people read what they say. This means there is plenty of opinion out there and people are willing to read what the average person thinks and not just political commentators in the rags and on the tellybox. The more people write and in turn read the more engaged the whole process gets.
In the piece by Jemima Khan, Nick Clegg shows a more human side to him. The way the mainstream media portrays Clegg he is a ruthless hard-headed man who takes no guff and has his head down doing whatever it takes to stay in power and look important. The reality though is vastly different. He is a man with a loving wife and three young children that clearly mean the world to him. He tries to pick them up two or three days a week from school and keep them living as normal a life as possible. Some Labour activists on twitter this lunchtime were attacking Clegg for his son using the word ‘Papa’ instead od dad and quite simply I shake my head at those kind of comments. His kids speak both Spanish and English and that is how it should be. Being children of parents from different background it is only right they learn both languages and are brought up knowing both parts of their heritage. Anyone who disagrees with that is someone who needs help.
So as for Clegg’s position in the media he should just keep his head down and work hard. Whatever the media says over the next 42 months or so doesn’t really matter because if three months out from the next General Election he can point to everything he has done in government then people will be able to make up their own minds.
The people of this great country will never ever again be swayed solely by what a newspaper says. Never again will The Sun be able to say ‘it was us who won it’ and never again will people vote simply because of what a newspaper says. Newspapers will still have influence but as much as they hate it – that influence is diminishing and will continue to do so. People aren’t thick and in this multimedia age it is far easier to read both sides of a story. The future for Nick Clegg and the party is deeply uncertain but one thing they need not worry about is what the mainstream media is saying today because today their opinion doesn’t count for much and come the next General Election their opinion will count for even less.
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