Archive for the ‘nick clegg’ tag
Being a member of a political party is slightly different to being just a supporter and a voter. It is that time of year where my membership of the Liberal Democrats is up for renewal and after a couple of years as a member it is always good to look at yourself and ask whether it is worth it.
I have decided that there are three reasons to be a member of a political party – National Issues, Local Issues and Personal Ideology. The big question is how many of those three do I (or anyone for that matter) have to be happy with to continue membership (or indeed join in the first place).
I’ll start with Personal Ideology.
Several weeks ago I was challenged to write about my Lib Dem Values. In a way it was also a way to see if my thoughts meshed well with that of the party. I am a liberal. I believe in liberal philosophy. I don’t really have to challenge myself on this at any level because I have always had a very similar viewpoint of the world and our place in it. No one person is born better or worse than the next person. Every person deserves the same chances and opportunities in life. If the Liberal Democrats still sit broadly in the liberal realm of the political spectrum then I can tick this box.
However National Issues is a harder thing to sit with.
I joined the party after the coalition was forced. Despite having always voted and leaned Lib Dem I never actually joined until March of 2011. So I was not a member of the party when solely in opposition so I do have a slightly different viewpoint to many others who have been members for far longer. The biggest difference between opposition and government is that sometimes principles and practicalities are mutually exclusive and something has to give way.
The question is at what point do principles become compromised unnecessarily? That is the problem the I personally wrestle with. Being part of a coalition does mean that we as a party will have to do things that we are not personally comfortable with. If we want to live in an isolated Utopian state and only do things that as a party we would be happy with then either win a General Election or be in opposition until the point where an outright victory occurs. Coalition will always mean two parties (or more) doing things that they are both comfortable and uncomfortable with. This is just the nature of the beast.
However when we see MP’s and the national party doing things that go against the will of the membership without getting an obvious trade back on another issue then it is immensely troubling. It can be said that the Tories have backed things they would have preferred not to during the past 35 months or so. It most certainly can be said that the Lib Dems have done just that and on multiple occasions.
People have left the party due to various issues since the formation of the coalition. Many leave strictly because of one principle gone too far and others because of an accumulation of principles they believed in being ignored and in some cases actively campaigned against by the upper echelons of the party.
It is hard to really back some of what is going on at Westminster. I like Nick Clegg. I like him a lot but unless he explains why he does some of the things he does and listens to the grass roots then it is hard to fully back him. We have gone past the point where we can believe in Nick Clegg and the national party with blind faith that they know what they are doing.
So this box I probably can’t tick so I’ll say it is an incomplete.
Lastly Local Issues.
I currently live in Southend. We have a Conservative run council (with a majority of one) and a rather interesting local political scene. The Lib Dems locally are good people (which is always a pretty decent start) and I think we can see some progress here. I wish the councillors would be better at talking about their achievements as it is rare to see them in the local paper talking about what they do – and some of them do excellent work and genuinely make a difference.
I do like to think that I live in the real world and the financial situation makes things very difficult for the Tory run council. Cuts do have to be made to make ends meet but there is always a question of what cuts and where. Do we cut along ideological lines or do we cut where those effected are those who can deal with being effected? This is where I struggle with what the Tories have done going into a voting pact with the Thorpe councillors (although now that pact isn’t needed) because Thorpe is the ward where people can deal with issues better than any other. So whilst those in Thorpe will be delighted at the reduction in car parking charges in the Broadway, that is money that is now not going into the coffers.
Also we have to work on what things are spent on – certainly the big projects. The Shoebury Youth Centre was a £2.9million building but it is hardly being used. Firstly we have to question why it was built in the first place but secondly we need to find a way for that building to become a viable part of the Shoebury community. There are issues like this all over the place and in general the local Lib Dems seem to be actively working on finding solutions to difficult situations and aren’t just sticking their heads in the sand and saying ‘those evil Tories are really evil’ etc…
So locally I think I can probably tick that I’m relatively content with what is going on. The local party are active and I do think that being part of it is worthwhile and it can benefit the local community if we continue to work hard and deliver on what we can do.
So two ticks and an incomplete. The National Party do concern me and do the pros outweigh the cons of being in coalition? I’m not sure. Are we losing our soul? Some may argue that and in all honesty I do not know the answer. However my ideology has not changed and being a member of the local party is I think worthwhile therefore it’ll be another year as a member for me…
Immigration is one of the biggest issues facing our country today. Not because it actually is but more because that is what the media is telling us. Ten years ago immigration was a footnote when questioning the public about what they wanted the government to sort out. These days it has become a bigger talking point on the doorstep than everything bar the economy. Yes even the NHS and Education are less of a talking point than immigration. So why the sea change?
Basically the economy has gone down the tubes and someone has to be to blame and it can’t all be the bankers fault, can it? We have gone from one of the most tolerant societies to one that openly talks about immigration in a bad light. The media whip up a firestorm with stories such as the benefits cheats who get to live in mansions at the tax payers expense but the stories about the hard working people who come over here, pay taxes and enrich our culturally diverse society don’t seem to get as many inches in the written media for some reason?
If I’m awake in time I often leave BBC1 on in the mornings (because Homer Under The Hammer is fantastic) and there is a show called ‘Saints & Scroungers) and practically every single scrounger is a foreign national who shouldn’t be living here. Am I to believe that these people account for more benefits being illegally received than born and bred Brits? Yeah. Right…
The argument I often hear is, ‘well I was born and bred here and they weren’t so why should my taxes pay for their benefits.’ On the face of it a fair point of view but when you dig deeper they don’t just chastise those who don’t work and claim benefits, they chastise those who have jobs as well because they are doing jobs that born and bred Brits could do. I ask them what they think about Brits moving abroad and they don’t have a problem with it. So Brits moving abroad and working is fine but others coming to the UK and doing the same isn’t. I bash my head against a brick wall sometimes.
Angry voices are swelling about immigration and you hear that people want the government of the day – whoever they are – to be tough on immigration. One of my main issues is the loudest voices want the government of the day to be tough on everything. Being tough is the way forward they say but it isn’t however a political party can never be shown to be anything other than tough otherwise they’ll be torn apart in the media. Being tough on crime is one of the main ones and yet locking everyone up and throwing away the key doesn’t actually solve all the problems. The penal system isn’t just about punishment but also about rehabilitation but you can’t say that out loud without sounding soft in the eyes of many.
This leads me to the immigration issue. The country and the economy will prosper if we are open for business. That means foreign companies investing in the UK and it also means skilled nationals from other countries coming here and working. It also means foreign nationals coming to the UK to learn and get educated.
On a society front I hear people argue that they feel more uneasy being around foreigners instead of UK nationals. Personally I have never felt this is the case. It is akin to people saying that foreigners are more criminal than people in this country and that just doesn’t wash with me. We are all human beings when it comes down to it and yes there are bad people in this country who are not helping our economy or society but you know what – the majority of those people are British. Should we tolerant these people and persecute the others just because they were born here? Does being born somewhere give you the right to be treated differently to another person when that is the only difference between the way you are acting? I think not.
The reason I am discussing this today is simple. Nick Clegg spoke today on this issue and the headline is about looking into the feasibility of visitors from certain countries having to pay a bond that they would collect on their way out of the UK once their visa was up. It is a pretty dumb policy in my opinion but they are just looking into it, just like the previous Labour government did twice and the coalition has already looked into. If civil servants think it is feasible then a pilot will be run.
Now that is the headline that was on the news and is in all the online editions of the written media. It doesn’t come across well but the speech wasn’t just about that. A very interesting part was about exit checks and the way they had been scaled down by the previous government. To me it just seems logical that you count and check people in and then check them on the way out as well. Isn’t that just good practice so you know who is where?
I have no issue with being ‘zero-tolerant on abuse’ as long as it doesn’t impinge on those who are wanting to do things legally and would benefit the economy and our society. I know Nick wants to sound tough on immigration and wants to be at the forefront of the debate but the issue now isn’t about actual immigration – it is about how to differentiate between all the main political parties on this issue. They all want to sound tougher and more outraged than the next party whereas in reality the best practical solution would be to sort out the management of the system and ensuring that we know who is here, for what purpose and for how long. If we know that then that is the majority of the battle won. The way I see it our biggest problem isn’t the amount of people who are here but that we don’t know who is here.
Whilst immigration is an issue – as I said earlier it is seen as such a large issue because those with the loudest voices have dictated it to be so. UKIP, the Tories and Labour all want to be seen as the hardest and toughest on immigration and that will play well with many. However there is plenty of room for a sane and reasonable approach to immigration and that is where I hope Nick and the Lib Dems go. If a political party could say (and more important achieve) a situation where they could effectively manage immigration to the point where the country was open to anyone with the skillset that was deemed needed and that students on education visas were free to come and study but with the important caveat that when their visas ended they had to either leave or apply again for either an extended or a different visa then that would be music to my – and a lot of other people’s ears.
Politicians need to remember that the loudest voices are not always the majority of voices. If you can put yourself in a position where the more reasoned voter could believe you could deliver something that made sense then you have a chance with these people. Not everyone votes on the strength of what the media tells them. In fact the truth is most vote based on their own opinions. Not everyone is extreme in their views on immigration so I’d like to see a political party talk to these people – and I for one would like that political party to be the Liberal Democrats.
Immigration is not bad. Uncontrolled immigration might be but the whole issue of immigration is a good thing for all countries around the globe. Finding a way to ensure our doors are flung wide open to the right people is far more important than ensuring the wrong people are finding a way in but we need a balance. If we can find a way to manage immigration – both the good and the bad – then we’ll be going someway to building a better society and economy. The biggest story in Nick’s speech wasn’t the bond issue but the fact we are building up our network of exit checks that the party has been calling for since 2004. Once we have a handle of who is where and who hasn’t left when they should have then we can start effectively managing the whole immigration system. It was a Labour mistake but it is one the Lib Dems are helping to fix.
Ah Secret Courts or to be more formal The Justice and Security Bill. It is legislation that no-one will talk about on the doorstep. No-one. People will talk about many national issues but whether in certain circumstances evidence can be heard in secret is not one of them. Equal marriage is something most people said was a waste of time and even that is 100x more likely to be a topic that fires up the average voter. They care about many things but secret courts is not one.
Yet the fact is for liberals it is vastly important and the terms ‘National Security’ and ‘Terrorism’ are in essence buzz words to defend anything. If a political party wanted to say that they wanted to close all borders and used ‘anti-terror’ as their reasoning it would work to a far larger degree than saying ‘we don’t like those damn foreigners’. George Bush won an election in 2004 not just because John Kerry was an awful candidate but because he scared the electorate. People believed that if tough legislation wasn’t in place then terrorists would blow them up and eat their offspring – so anyone who wasn’t a hard right-liner was opening the door for this to happen. So I’ve always been rather dubious when any politician ever tries to stats that anti-terror legislation is a good enough reason to ignore civil liberties.
I heard Ken Clarke say in the House of Commons during the debate on this bill, ‘I believe that British judges are the best in the world’ as that was an important issue. He is implying that because they are the best that they’ll only ever allow evidence is private if if was indeed in the interests of national security. The issue is if the secret services had their way every piece of evidence they give would be in private. They don’t want to ever put one of their men or women on the stand. The term ‘National Security’ doesn’t automatically actually equate to genuine ‘National Security’ issues.
Now I think it is well known that I like Nick Clegg. I like Nick Clegg a lot. I think he is a very intelligent man and believe that he has genuine liberalism running through his veins. Personally I would go as far to say that if Nick Clegg had no advisers he’d probably be doing a far better job than he is. The problem is that the civil service and advisers often don’t think about what the party Nick Clegg represents stands for but more about what is best and right for them.
The coalition agreement is a framework for the 2010-2015 government and not a comprehensive guide to what the government will do. Equal marriage as we all know was not specifically in the coalition agreement and when that got brought to the table it pissed off a lot of Tories and Lib Dems rejoiced. Well in a way this is payback and this is not a Lib Dem agenda at all (although I’m unsure why it would be a Tory one either) basically it opens the door further to corruption and it potentially puts people – defendants – in a position where they have no public right to reply and the general public will not have access to the full facts of a case. Surely a pretty scary scenario for all of us?
I want to go back a week and look at Zadok Day quitting the party as he felt at times all we care about is votes and not about showing off our liberalism. If you speak to the younger generation – those who aren’t carrying the scars of either the world wars or the cold war then you’ll find people who are more open minded regarding civil liberties. That isn’t an all encompassing thing – there are plenty of people who lived through those instances who are big on civil liberties and plenty who did not who don’t give a stuff – but I think it is fair to say when you have never lived in a world where you genuinely feared bombers or nuclear war then you have a slightly different outlook.
Now these people care about liberal issues – and if civil liberties isn’t a liberal issue then I’m the perfect new cast member for TOWIE (for those who don’t know I don’t drink, don’t go out to clubs and my main passion in life is not ‘having a good time’). This is what I think most liberals would see as a red-line issue. What is the point on being in government if you can’t stop illiberal laws making it on to the statute book? It is a pretty good question to ask.
This bill is clearly better than the first draft but that doesn’t mean it should go through and we should pat ourselves on the back about it. Heck when I write my first novel I’m sure it’ll get crucified but a few cosmetic changes may not be enough to make it worthwhile to actually publish. If it’s shit then it will only ever sit on my hard-drive taunting me over my lack of story-telling abilities. Basically what I’m saying is this bill never had to go through. The Lib Dems could have all voted it down and then if a few members of the opposition voted with the Conservative Party and it still became law then we could hold up our heads and say we are the party of civil liberties no matter what. For activists, members and those with a general liberal viewpoint this would have been respected.
Instead members are looking at themselves and thinking ‘can we really call ourselves the party of civil liberties when we do something so illiberal and worst of all – unneeded?’ I can’t answer that but I can say that Nick – in my opinion – played this one badly. Very badly. Members in general aren’t easy about coalition. Many have left because of it but many others have stayed because it is better to have some influence than none at all. However when it comes to issues that are so core to the party – and have no doubt that any civil liberties issue is core then to basically say we made a bad bill better isn’t good enough.
The members spoke. Well I should start that again. The member shouted, hooted and hollered that they didn’t want any part of this. Now I know we the grass roots don’t have the full story about why these powers are deemed necessary but if there are real reasons behind it then don’t just hide behind the ‘National Security’ or ‘Anti-Terror’ bullshit. Gives us real reasons. Give us facts. Give us figures. Oh wait you can’t in the interests of national security…
Look I know the party is having to grow up and face the real issues instead of living in our Utopian idealistic minds but if we are going to do something that is – on the face of it – so illiberal then you have to tell us why. The fact is you haven’t and now we all feel let down.
Imagine this scenario. The Lib Dems win Eastleigh on the Thursday, vote down Secret Courts on the Monday and have Spring Conference on the Friday-Sunday. Imagine the good feeling that would be pouring through our veins now. The grass roots would be energised and full of passion that the party can still win, can still look ourselves in the mirror and say that we are doing exactly what we say on the tin and we can stop bad bills in the House of Commons.
We all like winning. However do we really want to win at all costs, certainly if the cost is one of our core values? (I won’t say souls because I think that would be too far). I’d prefer to lose with pride and honour than win but not live up to our billing.
Whilst it might not make waves on the doorstep – The Justice and Security Bill has made waves amongst liberals – and not in a good way. The Lib Dems do stand for something and one of those things is the protection of civil liberties. Just because leadership have failed us on this occasion it doesn’t stop the notion. If I had a diretc line to the powers that be I’d tell them one thing – do whatever you feel you need to do – but if you do something that goes directly against the will of the party and the notion of liberalism you better give us a full and comprehensive reason why you did so – and in this situation you failed to do that.
This could have been a huge game changer for the party these past ten days. Instead it has been a deflating experience. Start listening to members and not civil servants and advisers. That is something for all Lib Dem MPs to take to heart. You may have been elected to serve but if you don’t listen to your heart and the people who work for – and support you – then you’ll end up lonely and not an MP.
As much as I’m crushing Nick here (and rightly so) 49 other MPs did not vote against the bill (although a handful were away from the HoC for legitimate reasons). So it isn’t just Nick but he is the head honcho. Nick – we are all friends in the party (actually that is a lie but lets pretend…for now) – Nick – we are all friends and you can tell us stuff. Tell us why you backed this illiberal bill and if you convince us that it was the right thing to do we’ll understand. The problem is there was no good reason and it wasn’t needed was it? You can’t defend it without using buzzwords. Get back to your roots and don’t let those non liberals scare you into thinking this is a good idea. You have a great brain and it might be an idea to use it and not ignore it at times…
Disappointed. Still a Lib Dem.
Now that is what I want for my next birthday as well. Can someone sort that out please?
Away from my dreams the news today is that the Deputy Prime Minister has agreed to do a weekly phone-in radio show on LBC in an attempt to be more accessible to the public. I don’t know what the general consensus is but personally I think this is a good move by Nick Clegg who has in the recent months slowly seemed to be getting himself together with regards to his public image.
As a known ‘Cleggite’ as it were and as a firm believer that he is a very good man who is doing his best even I thought the advice he was getting was woeful. I feel he has been getting too caught up in the Westminster bubble and wasn’t listening to what people on the street really thought and the challenges they were facing. To open himself up for an hour a week to the general public will hopefully give him yet another reminder of the real world. I would love it if he also spent more time listening to his membership. An hour a week phone-in for members who also go down extremely well for me.
Speaking on the new show the DPM said, “I’m doing this because I don’t think politicians get to hear enough from people directly. You can’t do the right thing in government unless you keep in touch with how people are thinking and feeling.
“Nick Ferrari is known as the interviewer that all politicians fear. He can be very tough but he’s generally fair, very well-informed, and I hope we’ll make a good combination for the show we’re doing together.”
As I said I think it is a really good idea. Yes I’ve seen some people say he shouldn’t be doing it, that if he is going to do it then it should be in Sheffield, that by doing it in London it proves he only cares about London but these are all just people trying to find fault. Yes he could do a phone-in in his constituency but he isn’t in Sheffield every week. He works and lives in the main in London like most northern MPs. Did he turn down a national broadcaster to do a London based station? Well no. No he didn’t. The BBC would never do this as they would be scared of showing a bias so it meant an independent station would be the place for this and LBC is the obvious fit.
You can of course listen live to LBC online from wherever you are so if you are interested then you can listen online and I wouldn’t be surprised if they accept calls from outside of London but of course I’m not privy to this information.
The more politicians actually listen to people then I think the better they’ll understand the effects their decisions are having. Sometimes things look good on paper but have unintended consequences and this is the type of things that needs to be nipped in the bud before these unintended consequences become a real issue.
People wonder about the type of people who get through and we all hope they are people who genuinely have an issue and want to talk about it and not those who just want to sling abuse. No doubt a few of them would get through but I’ll leave you with a quote on the Guardian comments as user holzy hopes he ‘dies live on air.’ You can’t buy class even if you read the Guardian so it seems…
My fingers are so cold that I mis-typed that title three times. Seriously my heating needs to work faster…
Anyway yes. Another day and another Lib Dem member and this time Town and Parish councillor has left the party stating that the reason is the leader of the party. Speaking to what is without a doubt one of the most successful local rags in the country – the Isle of Wight County Press Cllr Bob Blezzard said that he has sent a letter to Nick Clegg with the following:
“Failure to honour the pledge on tuition fees, when you did not even take advantage of your negotiated agreement to abstain, has done incalculable damage to the reputation of the party and to public trust in it. The damage was compounded by your cringing and clearly insincere apology, which resulted in you rightly being publicly lampooned.
“The cutback in support for among the poorest and most vulnerable in society by cutting council tax benefit by ten per cent while cutting tax for millionaires only reinforces my concern you are simply following a Tory agenda with a few crumbs being thrown to the Lib Dems to keep members quiet.
“The principled party I joined under the leadership of Charles Kennedy in the wake of the Iraq war no longer exists under your leadership.”
Now I want to just bring up a couple of points about this departure from the party. Firstly not a few days ago Bob was running for the ELDR in the Lib Dem internal elections. He lost. Badly. Now I’m not going to say that the two are linked because that is lazy but what I will say is I have seen people run for internal positions within the Lib Dems and lose and then quit the party extremely soon afterwards. I’d have thought that if you felt that you were drifting away from the party that running for internal office wouldn’t be a wise move? Had he won would he then have still quit and then someone who has lost been promoted? Logically internal office would be for those who are fully invested with the party and not for those who are having second thoughts.
Secondly his departure has caused quite a ruckus on the Alliance of Liberal Democrats Facebook page. Who could have thought that leafy sandal wearing liberals could get so personal? Insults flying around the joint like they were going out of business and were on a ‘say one get ten free’ offer.
Also I’d like to say that whilst the apology could be taken in many ways it certainly was not insincere. When the DPM told me that he ‘thought about saying sorry every day’ I fully believed him and still do. I don’t think for one moment he chose to vote for tuition fee hikes without feeling sincere regret. As for him being publicly lampooned. Yeah right…it hardly even made a blip on the media radar and the same with the public. So that I think is grossly inaccurate.
Now I’m not sure here but I do believe George Osbourne is the Chancellor of the Exchequer and not Nick Clegg. Of course the Lib Dems get a say in the budget but they don’t write the budget. Now the tax cut for millionaires bit really irks me as the 50p rate was in place for what was it – 36 days under Labour? With a 40p tax rate being the norm for the rest of their government. It seems like political point scoring to put the higher band tax rate up for such a short time knowing that if they lost it would probably be lowered. A very clever political manoeuvre as most people won’t realise this.
Does Bob think that things like upping the Income Tax threshold and taking millions out of paying Income Tax altogether is ‘crumbs?’ Are Green issues and successes ‘crumbs?’ Is the Pupil Premium ‘crumbs?’ Is Equal Marriage legislation going to be ‘crumbs?’ The Lib Dems quite simply can’t win them all and for those who think that they can block everything that the Tories do then they need to look at how coalitions actually work.
His final sentence though is something I will explore in greater detail in a subsequent blog post as the people who joined under Charles Kennedy over the Iraq issue are deserting the party in their droves (I have no evidence to back this up but it does seem that out of the people that I know who have actually quit it is this section who have left more than the rest) and it is an interesting thing to debate and hypothesise over.
So yes another member and councillor gone from a former stomping ground of mine. I remember the days when we stole the Isle of Wight following the Tory collapse in 1997 but the Isle of Wight is proper blue and it is of no surprise that the Tories regained it in 2001 and continue to dominate the political landscape here as the demographics are about as blue as you can get. It is disappointing that he has chosen to leave the party (as it is when most people leave the party) but his final sentence in that letter to Nick Clegg is worthy of some further blogging…
Gary McKinnon is not going to the United States to face trial. Nick Clegg was pretty darn clear when asked about this before the General Election in 2010 and he has come through. No doubts he put heavy pressure on the Home Secretary to get this decision and it is one I think it fair and we should be very happy with.
Nick (or someone writing on behalf of Nick) sent the following e-mail out to Lib Dem members earlier this evening.
In opposition, we were unequivocal: Gary McKinnon should not be extradited. I said at the time that he was too vulnerable to be uprooted from his friends and family and sent across the Atlantic, and if there was a case to answer it should be here in the UK.
So today I am absolutely delighted by the Home Secretary’s decision to withdraw his extradition order.
I want to congratulate Gary and his mother Janis on their deserved victory. They have campaigned tirelessly and I pay tribute to their strength and determination.
But there was another significant moment as well: the Coalition Government has announced that we will seek to amend the US-UK extradition process to make it fairer in future.
We’re adding a so-called “forum bar” which will mean that British courts can decide to block a request for extradition if it is in the interests of justice to try the case here. This will increase the overall transparency of our extradition arrangements and will better balance the safeguards for defendants.
We will let you know more detail in due course on this announcement because today is about Gary. Today is a day for celebrating.
Good times. The fact that the extradition process is going to amended is not just a win for today but a win for future cases as well.
Not a terrible day at all…
The Rambles of Neil Monnery feels like it should change it’s tag-line from ‘Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interwebs’ to ‘All Nick Clegg. All the time’ as the past what 18 hours or so has seen quite a dramatic shift in Nick Clegg’s attitude to both governing but also towards his own party.
His apology was unsurprisingly autotuned and ThePoke website cheekily asked if they could release it as a charity single and lo and behold the Lib Dems and Clegg himself have agreed as long as the money raised goes to Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital. Yeah who saw that coming?
Now whether you like Clegg or not – he’s allowing himself to be ridiculed to make money for his local children’s hospital and that is something everybody would respect. I know Nick Clegg has become the most divisive figure in mainstream UK politics since Margaret Thatcher – and that isn’t a good thing for the Deputy Prime Minister – but at least he is willing to poke fun at himself. Isn’t that why everyone loves Boris Johnson?
Now Clegg is no Boris – not by a long shot – but Clegg has decided to draw a line in the sand. This is his last stand and it’ll either pay off handsomely or he’ll have allowed his successor whoever it is to start without the biggest monkey on his back. I was just tweeted to tell me that money is piling on Clegg to not lead the Lib Dems into the next General Election which surprises me somewhat.
The next few days in Brighton will certainly now be far more interesting than we all expected. Looking around my politicosphere (that isn’t a word but it really should be) the general consensus was that people were fed up. They are fed up of being in coalition but more than that they were fed up of defending the accusation that we are a bunch of liars who cannot be trusted. That allegation is of course still there but a very public apology from the top means defending it becomes easier on the doorstep.
The big question is will this translate to more positivity within the party. If people once more feel that we aren’t heading to election oblivion then maybe they’ll be wiling to put in that extra ounce of effort and go that extra mile to do more leaflets, more surveys, more doorstepping. Lib Dems all over the country work hard and care but like all humans if they think they can’t win then they’ll find it harder to play the game as it were.
I respect Clegg for finally apologising and his decision to allow the autotune remix to be released as a charity single is a very brave but correct one. If people laughing at or with him makes money for his local children’s hospital then who cares. If it sells well then it can make some serious money and make kids stays at hospital that little less awful and that is something I think we should all applaud and respect.
Next up get Clegg in the stocks or maybe gunge him? Sit him in a bath of beans whilst students pour tomato sauce over him? The possibilities are endless but I suspect this will be it…fr now.
So who knew that Nick’s apology yesterday would result in various mash-up videos on YouTube? Oh. Everyone. However who knew that it would turn out better than many of the wannabe stars that go on The X Factor et al?
I mean Frankie Cocozza or Nick Clegg autotuned?
Some of the comments on the video though aren’t exactly the nicest though:
Fuck off and die, Clegg. Good song but too soft on him.
Well they like the song at least Nick. Nine thumbs up for him to go and die. Lovely.
fuck you clegg……. you and your party will get no vote from students and future students for ever spineless prick
Well that is a lie as I know students who have voted for the Lib Dems since this episode and plan to do so again.
I’ll only ever consider voting lib dem again once that emotionless twat has resigned from leadership
Lewis Robinson is out until you are Nick. Emotionless? Well that isn’t true and twat? Harsh.
This is a terribly produced song. Guys even if the Lib Dems didn’t support the motion it would have passed through the Commons at some point anyway.
Nick. Fire your producers now.
An awful artist, but a brilliant song… hilarious !
I’m smelling Rebecca Black…
a f8ckin ars*hole
Haha. What an arse.
Oh. *sad face*
The thing is I bet just half an hour max after Clegg delivered this speech. He changed his mind and decided he wasn’t sorry Lmao
People who laugh are their own comments are lame. Also when they know very little about the situation it just makes them look dumb but they are cool in their own world so that is all that matter. ROFLOL.
if this gets in the charts i will die laughing
Maybe the best thing I’ve ever seen. Maybe.
Clearly not seen Man V food then…
Skeevy arse-piece. At least Judas had the grace to hang himself!
And we’ll end with another person wishing him dead. Oh the youth. They are the future you know…
So I’m there showering and thinking of witty lines to use on the air this evening (I couldn’t think of any) and by the time I got back to the PC to check e-mail and twitter before I left everything exploded.
Nick Clegg had apologised. What had he apologised for exactly? Well he had apologised for signing the pledge that said the Lib Dems would not back any rise in tuition fees. He didn’t apologise for being in government and raising the tuition fees upper-limit. Is this significant? Yes. Did he apologise for the right thing? Undoubtedly.
Last year I got to the opportunity to interview Nick Clegg and I got the killer quote from him in response to my question about whether he needs to apologise for just this, ‘I think about saying sorry every day’. To quote from my own piece:
He doesn’t think he can openly say sorry because people will retort ‘well you were in Government so you could not have done it’ and that it would do no good. I got the sense that he deep down wanted to apologise but either he thinks – or his advisers think – that is just wouldn’t be credible.
I think today he finally got that monkey off of his back. He didn’t do this because I implored him to. He probably doesn’t even remember me. He did it because finally he either felt that it was time to do the right thing or he knew if he didn’t he was finished. I am unsure as to which it was but I choose to believe that it is the former rather than the latter.
You see the thing is I do really like and respect Nick Clegg. I think he’s a very intelligent man and he is a passionate liberal. I don’t believe for one iota that he’s just a Tory in liberal clothing. I’ve listened to the man speak and he believes in liberal ideology. He believes in a fair society and ensuring that those who don’t have the chances of others are not ostracised and kept down. He doesn’t think that the poor need hand-outs to survive but he does believe in helping hands and if hand-outs are needed to help them get on their feet then he believes that is the way forward.
True Tories essentially don’t care and believe that the vast majority of people on benefits are there because they choose to be. Whilst some are the majority are not. This is where Nick Clegg clearly differs from the Tory party and that is why I have no qualms whatsoever that he’s a true liberal and why I get very annoyed when people lazily claim that Clegg’s a Tory without any real thought.
The apology was needed but it is way later than it should have been. Will it change minds of people up and down the country Probably not but it does give Lib Dem activists up and down the land a response to being told how they can’t trust the Lib Dems any more. The thing is politicians lie. All parties had Lords Reform in their manifestos but backbench Tories and Labour scuppered that bill but are they called liars?
All manifestos have things in that aren’t fulfilled. Didn’t the 1997 Labour manifesto have a referendum of the House of Lords? I do believe it does. Here is the paragraph:
The House of Lords must be reformed. As an initial, self-contained reform, not dependent on further reform in the future, the right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords will be ended by statute. This will be the first stage in a process of reform to make the House of Lords more democratic and representative. The legislative powers of the House of Lords will remain unaltered.
So a lie or was it just a mistruth?
The reason the Lib Dems pledge and subsequent backtracking on it was news – serious news – was essentially because it was the Lib Dems and for the first time in several generations liberals had some say in how the country was won. We were the great hope that things could be different and we failed. Oh boy did we fail.
Do I think that people will trust the Lib Dems again? Maybe, maybe not but for others to trust the Lib Dems then first of all Lib Dems need to trust the Lib Dems. Hopefully as a party we can start to move forward from this whole affair and start uniting once more. A genuinely apology goes a long way with me personally and I think it has gone a long way with many fellow members. Even some of Nick’s strongest critics have felt a sense of relief that he has done this. Whether that relief is short-lived I don’t know but at least it gives us all the opportunity to move on.
I am genuinely delighted by Nick’s decision to apologise. He (along with the other people in the decision making loop) screwed up big time and I mean big time. If you make a mistake then you need to apologise before you can truly move on. He should’ve done it ages ago but the old adage ‘better late than never’ is still applicable in my eyes. I hope this leads to a more united future for the party and revitalises the grass roots. If the people on the ground start feeling that the sky isn’t falling in any more then maybe they’ll start believing in themselves and the party again.
This apology to me seemed aimed not only at the country but at his own party. He knows his party is haemorrhaging support not solely from the electorate but also within the Lib Dems. Membership has fallen and even those that have stayed are doing so with an uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomachs. This should help and heck if there’s one thing we know from all this is that suddenly Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton from Saturday is going to be a whole lot more interesting…
The rise of Jo Swinson continues as she now gets one of the jobs Lib Dems on the ground worry most about
Do you remember the scary days of last week? When the sky was closing in on Lib Dems? Equal Marriage was toast and any hopes for women doing anything successful for the next generation was scuppered because Nick Clegg (yes a privileged white man) basically traded all his assets to the Tories to get David Laws (yes another privileged white man – and also Clegg’s key right-hand man) back into the cabinet?
I remember those days. I remember them well but I have a good memory so that isn’t a huge surprise. It was a turbulent era though. The Lib Dems on the ground thought that it was pointless even fighting any more. Moving Lynne Featherstone to a job she’s be fantastic in was clearly a sign that Clegg didn’t care any more. He was a Tory by-proxy. The Tories not only got their hands on Equalities so they could outlaw gays and get them rounded up and dumped on the Isle of Wight but also their devious plans to outlaw adults not being marriedand kids outside of wedlock would become things of the past. Yes the family unit would flourish once more. The evil Tories had won.
The thing was though. None of that happened (well except the Lynne moving to another job that she’ll do extremely well in – that bit did happen). I mean hands up if you think Lynne Featherstone won’t be terrific in the Department for International Development. Anyone? I thought not. Oh put your hand down Labour tribalist who thinks all Lib Dems are evil – your views are tainted by your lack of being able to form an opinion.
The fact is as everything came out in the wash Jo Swinson was promoted to Lynne Featherstone’s old job – and the move isn’t one that should be overlooked. Equalities is something that runs through all Lib Dem veins but do you know what else is important? Reducing poverty and Lynne is now involved in that as well. Jo Swinson is a star. I have said before that I think she should lead the Lib Dems into the 2020 General Election should she continue on her career path and is both a) still an MP and b) interested in doing such a thing. However with Lib Dems now in cabinet it would be hard for her to win the leadership without any experience (hence why I think Tim Farron despite all his twitter love might struggle).
Getting a Lib Dem into Equalities was extremely important to most Lib Dems. It is kinda part of our core. Getting a popular hard-working Lib Dem in there was a bonus and Jo Swinson fits the bill perfectly. Personally I am thrilled about this. I truly am. I know I should love and respect all Lib Dems the same but the truth is I don’t. However with this appointment I totally trust Jo to continue to work hard and do a fantastic job promoting equalities and getting equal marriage sorted – along with other issues.
I do hope those who quit the party over Lynne going last week are feeling a bit sheepish. No announcement was ever made about who would be directly replacing Lynne and you could tell something was going on. Many who didn’t quit because of this (to be fair I only know of one who did but still) were still seething and were very much on the ledge. I hope they take a deep breathe and a step back and acknowledge (even grudgingly if they need to) that Nick Clegg despite being a privileged white man with no women in his cabinet doesn’t actually hate all women. He is bringing Jo Swinson along quickly and clearly sees something special in her – like most of us do and is fast-tracking her to the big jobs – and I suspect there is no bigger job for Lib Dems outside of the actual cabinet than Equalities.
Pretty darn good news.
If you haven’t read the e-mail from Nick Clegg (hah) ok purporting to be from the big cheese himself is a more accurate description – if you haven’t read it then here it is below:
Tonight I’ve been hosting a reception to celebrate the Coalition’s commitment to equal marriage, an issue I’m very proud that Liberal Democrats are delivering on in Government.
I was delighted to be joined at the reception by Jo Swinson MP – who I’m pleased to announce is our new Equalities Minister, in addition to her role as Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs.
Jo is one of the new Liberal Democrat team in Government; I am also delighted to welcome back David Laws and to bring Jenny Randerson, Don Foster and Tom Brake into Government roles. Their ability, enthusiasm and wisdom will be crucial as the Coalition puts Liberal Democrat policies and values into action.
I would also like to pay tribute to Sarah Teather, Paul Burstow, Andrew Stunell and Nick Harvey. They have all played a big part in making our country more liberal and have a number of significant achievements to their names. I know they will all continue to have a huge role in our party.
You can see the new Liberal Democrat Ministerial team here and the full Government here.
Equal marriage is just one of the many Liberal Democrat achievements in Government that our new Ministerial team are committed to delivering. We’ll also be fighting to make tax fairer, promote jobs and growth, improve education and protect the environment.
That is what Liberal Democrats are in politics for – and what Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government will deliver.