Posts Tagged ‘Lib Dem conference’

Why Sheffield hated having the Lib Dems for the weekend

14/03/2011, 11:30:16 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Last May, I stood on the periphery of a throng of hyped-up students, Lib Dem activists (you can always spot them) and passers-by outside Sheffield City Hall waiting for Nick Clegg to disembark from his general election battlebus.

I had come to witness the true scale of Cleggmania as the Lib Dem leader arrived back in the city he represents to make his final speech at an open air rally. After an encomium – for the benefit of the television cameras – about “the new politics”, the crowd melted away and the rest, well, is history.

Fast forward ten months.

The hope and pluralism that the public felt Clegg personified have given way to anger and resentment towards him. “I agree with Nick” was a sentiment the apolitical, urban middle classes took to their hearts. His fall from public affection has been dramatic and real. No one seems to agree with Nick any more. He is the corporeal representation of that most loathed characteristic of the modern politician: career over principle.

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems rejoice at opinion polls that put them in double digits; with neighbouring Barnsley the scene of their sixth place in the Parliamentary by-election just a week and a half ago.

The contrast in Lib Dem fortunes from those heady days last spring is hard to overestimate. At the weekend, I again stood outside the City Hall, the venue for their spring conference. The free and easy atmosphere of last May was gone; with the square encased behind a six-foot steel fence (supplied, it turns out, by a Sheffield company). (more…)

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