Of late, it seems that it has become all too easy to stick the size 12 into Nick Clegg. So much so that it may be tempting to even feel sorry for this man, who has becoming something of a running political joke and a byword for irrelevance and uselessness. And then, today, he has to open his mouth again:
Just because it’s easy to stick the boot into him doesn’t mean it’s not perfectly reasonable or correct to do so. In this Party Election Broadcast to be shown soon, Clegg apparently apologises for tuition fees. Not only does he use his best “Blair” emoting and serious, sombre face to establish a mood of unctuous and ersatz contrition, but he also said some words too:
“It was a pledge made with the best of intentions – but we should not have made a promise we were not absolutely sure we could deliver. I shouldn’t have committed to a policy that was so expensive when there was no money around. Not least when the most likely way we would end up in government was in coalition with Labour or the Conservatives who were both committed to put fees up.”
Not to mention:
“I will never again make a pledge unless as a party we are absolutely clear about how we can keep it.”
Where do you start with this? Well, let’s see: “I shouldn’t have committed to a policy that was so expensive when there was no money around“. This doesn’t whisper naivety. It shouts OPPORTUNISM in a spittle-flecked flurry directly in your face. What Clegg is saying here is that, in spite of the economy being hosed coming up to the 2010 election, he made a promise he knew full well he and his party couldn’t keep because no one thought they had a hope in hell of actually being called on the policy after the election, and because he thought he might get a short term bump in popularity from a constituency who might fall for it. They did*. I don’t think it’s a mistake they’ll be making again for, oh let’s say about a generation or so.
If that were not bad enough, he throws in his “I will never…” promise. I think this little gem runs in rough translation something like:
I will never again make a pledge unless as a party we are absolutely clear how we’re going to be able to get away with plausible deniability when it all goes tits up”
I really cannot understand what’s going on here. Surely, if he’s learned one thing over the past year it’s that this is a boil that he’s never going to lance. It is for him the equivalent of Major and Lamont’s Black Wednesday or Blair’s 45 Minute claim. It is the political kiss of death and all he is doing is digging; digging ever deeper the grave in which he will find himself buried after the next election. In the process of futilely trying to extricate himself from his deserved reputation as this government’s mendax princeps (an achievement in itself) he is simply reminding the electorate how easy he found lying was in the first place, and how easily his party went with him. It reflects ill on them both and has only served to remind people exactly why is now, in political terms, an untouchable. Apparently some of his advisors were telling him not to do this, as the effect would be to make him even more toxic to voters than he was. It appears that they were bang on the money.
He then goes on to say:
But I owe it to you to be upfront about it. And I don’t believe it should cast a shadow over everything else the Liberal Democrats are achieving in government. When we are wrong we hold our hands up. But when we are right we hold our heads up too”.
It’s a pity he hadn’t been so upfront in 2010, when it actually mattered. And of course, maybe it will won’t distract from all those wonderful things the Liberal Democrats are achieving in government. Make a list of all the wonderful things they’re achieving and see how it measures up against his abject performance as little more than Cameron’s human shield and teaboy. It shouldn’t take that long. If you’re struggling, ask someone disabled, or low earning, or made redundant, or paying 9k a year to go to university or someone not in the 50% tax band, or someone working in the NHS to help. I could go on, but they’re achieving wonderful things in government.
There’s no easy way to say this, Nick: you are a pathetic, mendacious political pygmy and you, like all of us, know you are on borrowed time. You are a Dead Man Whining.
* I say they, but I did vote Lib Dem in my constituency at the last election. The Labour candidate was frankly hopeless beyond redemption and I would rather have chewed my own arm off than vote for Robert Goodwill, the sitting Conservative MP. Short of spoiling again, my options were non-existent and the Lib Dem candidate came exactly where expected: a distant third in a Lab-Con marginal. One vote utterly wasted. Hurrah for British democracy.