Posts Tagged ‘Nick Clegg’

Will we ever see the likes of Blair again?

30/07/2014, 09:56:25 AM

by Jonathan Todd

We are now too cynical to entertain the idea of a leader who defeats all, reconciles all and ultimately encompasses all, Janan Ganesh concluded following Tony Blair’s Progress speech. We won’t see his like again. And in their absence, Ganesh observes, Labour seeks a squeaked victory on a left-wing platform, while the Tories devote all campaign resources to 40 seats that they are trying to retain and 40 more that they aspire to gain.

Given the seeming lack of traction for a Blair-like big tent, the two largest parties battle a war of attrition, both closer to their voting and ideological citadels than Blair preferred.

Is the centre ground, which Blair dominated, so drained of potency that neither of the largest parties is best served by squarely holding it?

We might attach personnel or structural explanations for neither Labour nor Tory rushing to do so.

“Tony Blair,” according to a Labour strategist quoted by George Eaton, “was doing an impression of Bill Clinton, and David Cameron was doing an awful impression of Tony Blair. Ed has no interest in doing an impression of David Cameron.” If we conclude that Cameron and Miliband lack the capacities of Blair and Clinton, we might explain their non-centrist strategies in terms of personnel.

There is, however, a British leader seeking to command the same terrain as held by Blair, Nick Clegg, which has led John Rentoul to diagnose the paradox of centrist politics. This is that elections are supposed to be won in the centre ground, but the one party that occupies precisely that territory is facing damnation – meaning to be cut by about half – in next year’s election.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Labour should put the Lib Dems out of their misery

14/04/2014, 11:07:36 AM

by Jonathan Todd

When was the last time a Labour leader uncompromisingly made the pro-EU case in a head-to-head dual with Nigel Farage? Or floated licensing “head shops” for the sale of drugs? Or offered free sex to everyone in the former Yugoslavia?

It’s the Liberal Democrats, not Labour, that have reached out to liberal left voters on these issues. Their desperation to recover some of these voters, lost to Labour since forming a government with the Conservatives, has not extended to sexual favours. I just have a memory of Chris Morris “reporting” that Bono Vox, as he called the U2 singer, had made this proposition to the peoples of the former Yugoslavia. And I wonder whether the Liberal Democrats will get to that stage.

Because, while their tactics are getting more exotic, their poll ratings steadfastly refuse to get off the floor – in fact, the latest Comres poll sees them at 7 per cent, falling below the floor. Paradoxically, the polls also indicate that there is a decent chance that they’ll be in government in the next parliament. It can be debated whether Labour or the Tories are most likely to win the largest number of seats. But they both face a steep challenge to win a majority.

The battlefield is akin to World War I. Lions slogging it out on #labourdoorstep and the like. Donkeys unable to break out of their cultural and political citadels. Unless Labour can convince enough voters, predominantly in the south, that we have the competence to govern or the Tories can persuade sufficient, particularly in the north, that they have the heart to do so fairly, then neither will hold a majority. And the largest party in such a hung parliament may be tempted to come to an arrangement with the Liberal Democrats, creating the likelihood of them being in government for a decade.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

A referendum on Europe would undermine our constitution (and yes, we do have a constitution)

07/04/2014, 01:11:01 PM

by Sam Fowles

By now tens of thousands of words have been written about the Nick Clegg vs Nigel Farage debates but I think you can sum them up in just three: They were rubbish. While no one was expecting either man to be an Obama (or even a Romney) we deserved a higher standard than what was essentially a playground spat.  The sheer absence of analysis, reasoned argument or basic factual accuracy was just embarrassing.

Nowhere was this more true than on the question of a referendum. Most commentators agreed that this was where Farage really scored points arguing “you (meaning the amorphous political/business/academic elite – i.e. anyone who happens to disagree with Farage) don’t want a referendum because you’re afraid of the ‘wrong answer’”. They’re right, Clegg couldn’t answer it. But that’s probably because the answer involves engaging with big, complex ideas like constitutional law and democracy. (Incidentally Nigel shouting “all the foreigners are making decisions for us” and Nick shouting back “they’ll take more if we leave the EU” doesn’t count as an adult debate about democracy).

Contrary to popular belief, we do have a constitution in the UK. It’s even written down (mostly). It’s just not all written down in one place. In the first instance the referendum debate isn’t about giving people a say it’s about being true to the constitution. Helpfully, if we are true to our constitution then, in the bigger picture, individuals will have much more of a say than they otherwise would. our constitution isn’t perfect but it has achieved a rare quality in constitutional law: It’s being mostly right most of the time.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Are Nick Clegg’s pants indeed on fire?

03/04/2014, 06:00:22 PM

In their television ding-dong last night, Nigel Farage accused Nick Clegg of “wilfully lying” about Europe when the Lib Dem Leader claimed just seven per cent of UK laws are in fact made in Brussels.

But he wasn’t the only one accusing Clegg of being economical with the facts yesterday.

He is also in hot water after berating his local council in Sheffield for not being willing to take in its share of Syrian refugees.

Clegg accused council chiefs of “tarnishing” the city’s reputation as a “city of sanctuary” after refusing to be part of the Home Office’s Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) programme.

In a piece of chest-puffing hyperbole, he claimed the Labour Leader of Sheffield City Council, Julie Dore, had “decided to shut the door on some of the most vulnerable people in the world”.

Dore hit back, saying it was “outrageous” of Clegg to claim the council had refused to take in Syrian refugees and accused him of “not telling the truth”.

She in fact wrote to ministers last month “making it clear” the council would do so, providing the government would guarantee funding for longer than 12 months.

The refugees are expected to need to stay for up to five years, with many having complex health and social care needs.

Hull and Manchester are also said to have asked the government for further funding guarantees before taking any refugees.

Unfortunately, Clegg has form. Last year exasperated council chiefs had to formally write to him to ask him to stop misrepresenting the council’s budget, claiming the council was spending £2 million renovating council meeting rooms.

In fact, the council was spending £600,000 on essential maintenance to the Grade II listed Town Hall and making improvements to increase the number of income-generating civil ceremonies.

In accusing Farage of being an isolationist last night, Clegg mocked his Billy-No-Mates approach.

Still, better than being Billy Liar?

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Clegg’s committee for broken promises

04/03/2014, 03:40:05 PM

by Michael Dugher

Today’s YouGov poll shows the Lib Dems on just eight per cent.  The poll also gives Labour a nine per cent lead on 41, with the Tories on 32.   This follows the recent Wythenshawe by-election where the Lib Dems received less than five per cent of the vote and lost their deposit for the eighth time in ten by-elections since 2010.

It was in this context that Nick Clegg had the audacity to announce that he is setting up a “negotiating committee” to prepare the Lib Dems for five more years in government.   The press release was issued from planet Clegg or from whatever parallel universe the Lib Dems currently inhabit.  

The Lib Dems will certainly not be running on their record, which is one of utter failure.  Working people are on average £1,600 worse off since Nick Clegg became Deputy Prime Minister.  Yet while families up and down the country face a cost-of-living crisis created by the Lib Dems and their Tory mates, Nick Clegg has decided that his priority should be keeping himself in power.

With their painfully transparent strategy of “differentiation”, Clegg and his party like to pose as a restraining influence on David Cameron, but the truth is that the Lib Dems have nailed their colours firmly to the Tory mast.   They have propped up this Tory government and given up any pretence of believing in progressive policies in return for a few seats at the cabinet table, the keys to the ministerial cars and a parliamentary group that has more knighted male MPs than women. 

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

TTIP. Four letters that will make a big difference to all our lives

25/02/2014, 02:21:45 PM

by Callum Anderson

Last week Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, threw the gauntlet down to Nigel Farage, the leader of the eurosceptic UKIP, by challenging him to a televised debate regarding the UK’s continued membership of the European Union. As far as I am concerned, this should be welcomed by all, regardless of one’s place on the political spectrum. Any opportunity for our senior politicians to debate this subject should be seen as a positive.

Of course, Mr Farage has accepted this challenge, but with the caveat that he would also like the prime minister and the leader of the opposition also participate.

However, Ed Miliband should embrace this opportunity to establish Labour as another party of ‘in’.  As I have argued elsewhere, the UK already benefits hugely in economic terms from EU membership, yet there is still scope to further increase these benefits. And one of the (many) things that Ed Miliband, and indeed any progressive must shout loudly about in the coming years, is the opportunities that will be available to Britain through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States.

For those of you who don’t know, the TTIP is the trade agreement that is presently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States, with its aims of removing trade barriers, so that it becomes easier to buy and sell goods and services between the EU and the US. Furthermore, it will tackle non-trade barriers (NTBs) such as technical regulations, standards and approval procedures.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Nick Clegg has changed British politics and Labour would do well to understand that

19/02/2014, 07:26:32 AM

by David Talbot

Moments after the close of the first debate of the 2010 general election, Lib Dem officials were breathlessly rushing around the Granada studios in Manchester. They were hailing their leader’s performance as a potential “game-changer” in an election that had seemingly been thrown wide open. Nick Clegg, the political messiah, had arrived.

It was his best, and worst, moment.

Lauded to the skies as a return to Churchill, as another Obama, as the new kingmaker, he surely knew it must be as good as it gets. And how it turned out so. Burning effigies scarred the land, his party sunk to historic lows, lost deposits and pitiful results abounded. The great irony, however, is that come 2015 he will once again take centre stage.

Any fool can kick Nick Clegg. The Labour party, so often by far the most sanctimonious of the main political parties, has reduced this to a sorry art-form. When Clegg entered the coalition government with the Conservatives, the Labour party, always quick to feel betrayed, duly howled blue murder. It was treason of a high order. If there is one thing the Labour party does well it is hatred, and hate we did.

A more nuanced view would rightly ask what else was the leader of the Liberal Democrats meant to do? The only other option open to Clegg was to stand aloof, tolerating a minority Tory government and most likely precipitating another early election. The country, having just gone through the toils of a general election, would not have taken kindly to such short-sightedness. An alliance with Labour, who had just been decimated in the polls, would have been simply incredible. And were another election called, Labour, leader-less, penny-less, would have been destroyed. But for some in the party this is the utopia that could and should have happened until that bastard Clegg came along.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Your opinion on a Lib Lab coalition doesn’t matter. Labour are going for one anyway.

17/02/2014, 06:59:20 PM

by Atul Hatwal

Quite a little kerfuffle today as various Labour voices have sounded dissonant notes on the desirability of a coalition with the Lib Dems. The spark to ignite the Lib-Lab tinder was Nick Clegg’s open discussion about the possibility of a future coalition with Labour. The internal Labour discussion has been earnest and heartfelt, but above all, entirely pointless.

Labour activists and commentators can talk about the pros and cons of a coalition with the Lib Dems ad infinitum, but the decision has already been made. The opinions do not matter, Labour is going for a coalition with the Lib Dems come what may.

The evidence is apparent in the reprioritisation of Labour’s 106 key seats.

A month ago Uncut reported that Labour had significantly scaled back its key seat ambitions. This was always going to happen – there was no way a constituency on the list like Bermondsey and Southwark, held comfortably by Simon Hughes since 1983, was going to receive the same level of support as a seat like Stockton South where the Tories only have a majority of 332 and that Labour held solidly in 1997, 2001 and 2005.

But it is the scale of reprioritisation which effectively means Labour has abandoned thoughts of governing alone and is now aiming for coalition with Lib Dems.

Labour’s struggle in the south in particular is crippling the party’s ability to push for a clear majority. Party sources suggest that doubts among southern voters on Labour’s economic credibility and Ed Miliband’s leadership are making comparatively small Conservative majorities difficult to overturn.

One seasoned campaign professional with knowledge of the resources being allocated to key seats has indicated to Uncut that the high command now views majorities of over 2,400 in the south as increasingly beyond Labour’s reach.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

In defence of political fixing

23/01/2014, 07:00:27 AM

by Kevin Meagher

If the glamorous world of political power is an aphrodisiac, the grubby underbelly of politics is probably something like a retching motion. That’s to say, it isn’t pretty, as a cast load of dubious characters are coughed forward into our midst. A few crooks. Quite a few oddballs. Plenty of lechers. Mostly, they are men (although there are a few are women too). They are all part and parcel of our political life.

So nothing about the allegations swirling around Lib Dem peer Lord Rennard is particularly unusual or new and no-one, in any party, should react too smugly as this sorry state of affairs unfurls.

And I say that from the start, allegations. I don’t know what Rennard did or didn’t do. Neither does the police, it seems, who found there was no case to answer after investigating complaints from several women Lib Dem activists about unwanted moves they say he made on them.

Neither, did the party’s internal investigation, conducted by Alistair Webster QC, which has triggered this latest crisis. That’s because while he concurs with the earlier police investigation, Webster concludes, in a frankly brilliant circumlocution, that Rennard should still apologise:

“I viewed Lord Rennard, from the weight of the evidence submitted, as being someone who would wish to apologise to those whom he had made to feel uncomfortable, even if he had done so inadvertently.”

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Jim Dowd. Not so relished in South Yorkshire.

21/01/2014, 05:11:34 PM

Pity poor Jim Dowd. A Londoner to his boots and scourge of cheap knock-offs of quality brands. He led the way in the debate on intellectual property in the chamber yesterday, castigating “parasitic” copies of established products.

Tears were welling-up among fellow MPs and onlookers as he laid out the foul calumny that he himself had suffered, just the previous weekend,

“I was in the Hare and Billet pub in Blackheath (in London). And I was having lunch, and I asked if they had any Worcestershire Sauce – everybody knows the famous manufacturers of Worcestershire Sauce.

Now, I’m a simple soul from south-east London, and I thought there was only one Worcestershire Sauce. And the very nice chap who was serving us went away and said ‘certainly’, and he came back with a bottle, and it was shaped like the bottle which I always remembered containing, I think it’s Lea and Perrins, Worcestershire Sauce and their marvellous concoction: same shape, same size, the label was amazingly enough orange with black lettering.

But it was something from Sheffield, from somewhere called Henderson’s – whoever they were.

Now, I’m sure Mr Henderson and his company is a perfectly estimable organisation and I’m sure they pursue an entirely legitimate business, but I couldn’t help feeling at the time that this, of all the colours they could choose for their label, of all the shapes they could have for their bottle, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Sheffield sauce until then, but I thought this is an ideal example of just how easy these things are to do (to copy).”

Damn straight Jim. Who the hell is Mr.Henderson anyway?

What’s that? Henderson’s is a brand that has been established for over 100 years? Really? A great British export, shipped all round the world, you say? 750,000 bottles sold each year?

Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, rode to the rescue earlier today to set Jim straight, writing him an open letter on Facebook.

But it was already too late.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon