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Nick Clegg making up lost ground with young voters

A year or so ago Nick Clegg and his party was the voice of the young person. Ready to go into bat for them on the one issue that young people cared deeply about – themselves – and not paying for going to university. Then the coalition happened and tuition fees are shall we say not the Lib Dems finest hour. I still believe that the money would have been found from somewhere to fulfill one of our biggest policies had we recorded the stunning victory that the manifesto was written for but in coalition you can’t get everything – something I really do not believe a lot of people understand but that is another matter entirely.

Well unsurprisingly Clegg’s approval ratings have been in the tank for a long time but now there is a glimmer of hope. A post entitled Opinion Polls show Clegg leading Miliband with younger voters to get rid of this corruption shows a ComRes poll that on the face of it is typically bad for Clegg and the party but as the author shows if you look closely at the number you’ll see that in the 18-24 age ground Clegg is far more trusted than Ed Miliband (15% to 10% with DC on 17%) and in the 25-34 age range he is tied with Ed M (9% with DC on 25%). The fact that in every age range bar 65+ more than half of those asked did not trust any of the three major party leaders is rather depressingly but I’m not going to look into that in this post.

As I’ve banged on about before the likelihood of the Lib Dems winning an outright victory in the next 10-15 years is slim to none – the chances of a Liberal Democrat government are either a long-term goal or something spectacular has to happen. We saw that Iraq didn’t provide a spectacular moment so the likelihood of one happening is low. So it is about long-term aspirations and planning. If young people vote more for the Lib Dems than the other parties then as the young people grow older they’ll carry on voting LD and the young people reaching voting age will vote LD if we keep up being the champion of young people.

For the past 100 years or so people have been brought up with a straight choice – Labour or Conservative. The chances of taking lots of votes from dye in the wool Tories or Labour voters is low in all honesty. We have to continue to try and tell the electorate (and most notably young people) that there is a third way. Momentum is key in many things and politics is no different. Had Greece not collapsed when it did then I firmly believe the 2010 General Election would have seen the Lib Dems bring in 20-30 more MPs. Our pro-Europe stance and relaxed nature surrounding immegration scared some voters. Had Gordon Brown not called Gillian Duffy a bigot then he might well still be PM – or at least David Miliband would be.

Momentum is key but five years is a long time in politics. The Lib Dems can’t wash off the stain that is tuition fees but the stain can fade away. Some people will never trust us again but they are lost. Keep plugging away and trying to do the right thing and things will come good. The party nor Clegg are tainted in any way shape or form with Rupert Murdoch and News International. That will curry favour with people and will enhance our reputation as the clean party. If being clean and open about politics becomes a major factor then we’ll be in pole position to sweep up a lot of the floating voters.

So this poll whilst being encouraging in one way should be seen as a moment for us to look closely at ourselves. What are our ideals and goals. To me it is we want to give everyone a chance in life and a good start. Everyone deserves the opportunity to be the best person that they can be. Your background doesn’t matter. We are all human beings whether you are rich or poor, black or white and with no pre-concieved ideas for who we represent we aren’t pigeon holed in our ideals.

Younger people are naturally more utopian and enlightened. That is just the way the world is these days and they hold the key to the future. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and whilst that is true to some extent, what you can do is teach them that a fairer future for their kids and grandkids is the best legacy that you can leave them.

The Lib Dems to me shouldn’t care about buzzwords – i.e. bankers – and should concentrate on being fair and planning a future that is fairer for all – not just for one section of society – which is how the other two main parties see it. A kid from Buckinghamshire deserves as much of a chance at a future as a kid from Hackney. Money only does so much. If every school was as good as the next then that is fair. If every hospital was as good as the next then that is fair. A post-code lottery is not fair. If we can stand tall and keep to some of these basic principles of fairness for all then we’ll attract support from people who believe in that.

Some think that not representing a section of the electorate is a weak point. Whilst it might be today, tomorrow is another day. The world is changing and having a goal to represent one and all is a great one to have. The Lib Dems to the core believe that everyone deserves the same chance and that is way I am becoming firmer in my belief that this party needs the support from people like you and me.

People aren’t born losers. A baby is just born. Why one baby has a better chance to live a better life compared to another makes me oh so incredibly sad. It may be a hard goal to aspire to but what is the point of not setting that goal high? The gap between the have’s and have not’s is far too high and it is far too unfair. That is what I think we stand for and that is why I hope (and this poll shows) that despite a setback that we can win over the utopian idealists that are young people.

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Nick Clegg is pissing off the Tories on the NHS. I’m not complaining and nor should the electorate.

When you wake up in the morning to the top political heading in the Guardian being Nick Clegg angers Tories with new delay to NHS reforms you have to think that it is a good sign. Finally the Lib Dems in cabinet and most notably Nick Clegg have realised something – that the public need to publicly see that they are not doormats.

The public have made it clear that they are panicked on any changes to the NHS. Now the NHS needs to evolve so changes will have to be made but if the changes that are made do not include privatisation and selling off the juicy parts of the NHS to private companies then the public will breathe a sigh of relief. The selling off of national interests is not a good thing long term and when it comes to the nation’s health then we all have a tonne of interest.

The NHS might just be the greatest ‘invention’ of the 20th Century for Brits. The core principles that it meet the needs of everyone, that it be free at the point of delivery and that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay are vital. If private companies were able to cherry-pick services then whilst it would still meet those principles it would not be viable as the investment in the non-profitable sectors of the NHS would not be there.

Big decisions don’t happen overnight and they need to be discussed at length and not just by suits in an office – by the people that matter. I did a google search for NHS and saw this story in the Daily Mail entitled Clegg ignites Tory mutiny on health: Don’t let him derail NHS reforms, MPs urged. To save you going to the Daily Mail and infecting your machines with bile I shall copy and paste the best bit:

‘An email circulated to every Tory MP urged them to ‘make our views heard at the top of Government so that the debate is not monopolised by others’.

‘It calls on MPs to tell ministers that the Bill contains a series of ‘red lines’ which cannot be negotiated away to the Lib Dems.’

Now I’m no math major as the American’s would say but I’m pretty sure that the Tories cannot push through any bill without the support of their coalition partners. That is y’know why there is a coalition. If the Tories were able to push through anything they wanted then they would have no need for the Lib Dems. So it seems that certain backbenchers are still not smart enough to work out that 306 into 650 is not more than 50%.

The Lib Dems hold the balance of power and whilst in many ways they have done well behind the scenes – publicly they have been seen as doing naff all to stop the rampaging Tories. Time to get those guns out Nick (I’m talking muscles here) and flex them. We can stop anything becoming law and if things are not right then stop them. The coalition is not about making sure everyone is happy – it is about doing the right thing for the country and if this NHS Bill is not right then it needs to be re-written and submitted again.

We always said we could do more in power than we could in opposition and stopping bad changes is just as important as pushing through good changes. Yes it is all a balance but sometimes you just need to stick your fork into the ground and the NHS is far more important to this country than free university tuition for all so this is the time to say enough’s enough.

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Nick Clegg and the media

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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Nick Clegg is more popular than Ed Miliband

All we’ve heard from the political sphere recently is that Nick Clegg is toxic and Ed Miliband is the great new leader of the Labour Party. This seems to be the publics opinions, heck there are many Lib Dems I know who dislike Nick Clegg for daring to enter into a coalition government with the Tories. However the facts may not fit the story. In today’s FT there is a story following a poll by Ipsos Mori on the two leaders and they observe that Clegg is more popular than Miliband.

Yep you read that right. It seems that 40% of people who responded to the poll liked Clegg compared to Miliband’s 36% and both had a dislike rating of 51%. Now when you consider that Labour are ahead in the polls at the moment and when you add up the poll results for Tories and Lib Dems it still doesn’t come to 50% hinting that more people the poll spoke to are not following nor are they pro this government. So when you think of it like that this result is even more surprising considering the general consensus.

Remember it was only a few days ago that Ed Miliband said he wouldn’t share a stage with Nick Clegg on AV as Nick Clegg was too unpopular yet the facts seem to state otherwise. Will Ed Miliband just brush this off as a statistical fluke or will he continue to believe that he’s immensely popular because that is what the unions keep telling him? This isn’t the first poll of its kind and Miliband doesn’t seem to be getting any more popular.

Between them both Clegg and Miliband can win the AV referendum but their petty squabbles aren’t exactly helping their cause. Tribal politics are so annoying as it gets in the way of progress. Just sort it out and win the AV referendum and then we can move on. If the referendum does not succeed then FPTP is here for the next 20-25 years and MPs can be lazy in safe seats knowing that whatever they do they’ll always get re-elected and that isn’t what anyone (except those MPs) want.

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Ed Miliband tells Nick Clegg to go cower in a corner and he’ll save the day on AV

Yes I admit I may have used some poetic license in that title.

So Ed Miliband believes that the best way for the YestoAV campaign to win is if Nick Clegg does nothing, says nothing, believes nothing on the issue. The leader of the Labour party is apparently pro-AV and will be backing the Yes vote at the referendum but we’ve heard nothing from him or his party on that front until today. I haven’t heard anyone else from his party say anything on this front but if they have please point me towards it (they must have done but I’ve just missed it – it couldn’t just be Ed saying this whilst everyone else shyly looks down at their feet and starts talking about the weather, could it?)

So Ed Miliband says that the people of the country hate Nick Clegg and will automatically vote against whatever he wants at the referendum meaning that he should lead the campaign. Interesting hypothesis. However remember the people who wanted fairer votes were primarily those who followed the Lib Dems into the last election. So if they wanted fairer votes ten months ago then surely they still want them now? Or does Ed believe that everyone has now turned and after the tuition fees fo pah that all those that did want fairer votes are now perfectly happy with the old system? That doesn’t make sense unless those people now truly believe that Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems are the devil incarnate. Which you never know, they might.

The problem for Ed Miliband is he is a terrible speaker. He just is. David Miliband is good. Gordon Brown was not. Tony Blair was terrific. To lead a campaign you need a strong and charismatic voice and rightly or wrongly Nick Clegg still has that. He can hold an audience (if they give him a chance) and still attract the floating voters. Ed says he won’t share a floor with Nick Clegg believing that he’ll hurt the vote but it is more likely that Ed knows that Nick Clegg would overshadow him completely. If Ed was willing to work with Nick Clegg on this one then the YestoAV campaign would win quite convincingly. However due to Ed being scared of being outshone the vote is up in the air.

Unless Ed can bring the whole of Labour with him and very publicly state and campaign for a Yes vote then he has to let Nick Clegg front the campaign. The Lib Dems are the ones who pushed hard for this and they are the ones who need to win it. They aren’t hated all over the country despite what some people say and even now the polling is nip/tuck and changes from week to week. A good campaign for the Yes vote wins it and the best way is for both Labour and the Lib Dems to stand shoulder to shoulder on this issue. If they do then they win. If Labour don’t want to work with the Lib Dems and win it on their own then they face an uphill battle. The Lib Dems also face an uphill battle winning it on their own.

If Ed Miliband was truly Pro-AV then he would share the limelight and the stage with Nick Clegg. If he does this then they win. If he decides that he doesn’t want to do this then I question whether he is truly Pro-AV or is really Anti-whatever-the-Tories-want.

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