Wednesday, 5 February 2014


Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

by ANDY FLEMING, Guest Blogger

As a fellow human being you’ve got to feel some sympathy towards Nick Clegg.  After nearly four years as the Coalition government’s Deputy Prime Minister, his fortunes have nosedived from being a political Adonis to being the Devil incarnate.  He’s been blamed for most of the political misfortunes that have befallen his party, culminating numerous Liberal Democrat meltdown s in both local and national elections over the last few years. And then of course there was the debacle over the result of his party's only original idea, Alternative Vote system.

In truth, most of his problems are self-inflicted as he adopted the “default position” for politicians of lying to the electorate.  Springing to mind straight away is the duplicitous Coalition Agreement entered into with David Cameron’s Conservatives to introduce student higher education tuition fees of up to £9,000 per annum.
Nick Clegg saying "sorry" for lying to the British public. Do you believe he's sorry? Nope... didn't think so. How do you know Nick Clegg crossed the road? Because he said he didn't!

This was only a couple of weeks after Clegg categorically denied in front of television cameras and student groups prior to the General Election in May, 2010, that any such policy would not occur on his watch.

Then of course there's Clegg’s signature on former Tory Minister of Health Andrew
The post's Guest Blogger, Andy Fleming.
Lansley’s fully baked plans for the NHS, something that from which retrospectively he stated that his party wanted to withdraw.  Such retraction is due in no small part to the Liberal Democrats carrying the can for the Coalition’s unpopularity in elections and opinion polls.  These entire fiascos confirm the effectiveness of Cameron and the Tories as smooth and canny political operators, and epitomise Clegg and his Liberal Democrat colleagues as naive, inept, green and out of their depth, having been shafted to such an extent following l2010's Downing Street rose garden love-in.  However, their problems although symbolised by the duplicitous Clegg run much deeper than him as leader..

I’m not political commentator, just a common sense member of the electorate, who has in his 33 years voting career supported all three main political parties.  I don’t vote by belief, (because my parents voted for such and such a party), I weigh up sceptically and rationally the pros and cons of each party at each election, and then vote for the party offering the most rational, socially cohesive, economically sound and equitable set of policies.  In this, I’m probably the archetypal ‘floating voter’.  Like most of the great British public I cannot tolerate politicians who lie, cheat and milk the system, and engage in acts of blatant self-advancement and nepotism... all qualities in which both Labour and the Conservatives have excelled in recent years.  However, the shiny Liberal Democrats have turned these dubious qualities into art forms.

Marketed as the whiter than white party and above the political fray ever since the Social Democratic Party (SDP)/Liberal Alliance of the 1980s and with a distaste for political tribalism, they have just undone thirty years of hard work, showing themselves up as bad, or even worse than the two main parties they say they despise.  Their duplicity with the electorate has been rewarded with their worst share of the vote since the formation of the SDP in 1981.

In retrospect, however, the Liberal Democrats have always contained the seeds of their own destruction... or rather the “Democrat” part has.  This is no way a reflection on the honourable and principled true Liberal component of the party, people such as David Steel, Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell, with an ancestry dating back to the Whigs of the nineteenth century.  It’s the Social Democratic opportunists with a history going back no further than the Limehouse Agreement of 1981 that represent the bomb that has just blown up in the party’s face.

Recall that this declaration was a statement issued on 25 January 1981 by four senior Labour politicians, all MPs or former MPs and Cabinet Ministers: Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams (it was so called after David Owen's London home in Limehouse).

The 'Gang of Four', as they became known signalled their intent to leave the Labour Party (itself a broad church of socialists and social democrats) which had moved decisively leftwards, and form the British Social Democratic Party (SDP).  Their intention was to ‘break the mould of British politics” by destroying the two party system, and espousing proportional representation.  Looking back, it could all be seen as bad losers doing what bad losers do best: leaving the party and taking their ball home, and by splitting the left of centre vote, setting the UK on course for 18 years of unbroken Tory rule.

They demonstrably failed to break the two party system in the 1983 General Election, Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government increasing its majority over Michael Foot’s Labour Party (remember the latter’s manifesto... the longest suicide note written, complete with Foot’s duffel coat!).  By 1987 they had joined forces and almost usurped David Steel’s Liberal Party, to form the SDP/Liberal Alliance.  Their reasonable share of the national vote equated to only a paltry handful of MPs and once again there was a large Tory majority in the House of Commons with a split left of centre vote.

By the 1992 General Election, the two parties had merged to form the Liberal Democrats, led by Paddy Ashdown and throughout the decade they had some spectacular by-election victories.  And there in lies the roots of their current malaise.  In by elections in Labour-held seats in northern inner cities they canvassed on a Conservative platform appealing to Tory voters to vote tactically for the Liberal Democrats where the Tories had a negligible chance of winning... thus “keeping the Labour candidate out”.  In Tory-held southern and rural seats the converse was true, Labour voters were encouraged to vote tactically for the Liberal Democrats to keep the Conservatives out.  As duplicitous and disingenuous as this policy was, it continued right up to the 2010 General Election.  Tory voters were duped into believing they had voted for a right of centre alternative, the converse being true for Labour-inclining Liberal Democrat voters.

Touted for the last decade nationally as a real left of centre alternative to the self-advancement , slights of hand and dubious foreign policy of members of the Blairite New Labour Party, it was a huge surprise to many when they formed a Coalition Agreement following the 2010 vote, not with what one would assume would be their natural bedfellows the Labour Party, but with David Cameron’s Tories.  Was it really a surprise though?

Electoral mathematics and the fact that any pact with Labour would have led to a vulnerable minority coalition government, most of the intake of Liberal Democrats were elected by doublethink tactical voting by Tory voters in the south.  Those with true left of centre Liberal ancestry such as Simon Hughes, Menzies Campbell or Charles Kennedy are the ones kicking up a fuss about being in bed with a right wing Tory administration planning some of the most controversial and barbaric reforms on health, education, and welfare in living memory.  They have had the common sense to realise that it is their party carrying the proverbial fig leaf for the Tories; it is their party that will be left as a gutted rump at the next General Election. 

For make no mistake, as the savvy former Labour Party Deputy Leader Roy Hattersley stated after the 2010 General Election, in general it’s not the Tory MPs who will lose their seats when the nation next enacts its 'democatic right'... the Tory voters in 2010 voted Conservative and knew exactly what they were getting.  It was the Liberal Democrat voters who woke up following the signing of the Coalition Agreement scratching their heads... the duplicitous switch common to all political games had happened, and they weren’t going to get what they thought they had voted for.

It’s hardly surprising then that a resounding “no” vote was recorded in the referendum on the Alternative Vote system.  The promise of more duplicitous coalitions that nobody had actually voted for, operating like the current right wing lunatic fringe, against the will of the majority of the electorate is not a great attraction for even the most ardent Liberal Democrat supporter of proportional representation.  And so the actions of the Liberal Democrats in the coalition ironically have surely led to a huge nail in their political coffins.  If he has a conscience, which I strongly doubt, it must truly dreadful being Nick Clegg .

Having had a drubbing at numerous ballot boxes, the Liberal Democrats now actually have the audacity to threaten the Tories with renegotiation of the coalition agreement, and Clegg himself has stated that without substantial change, he will not support many of the Nasty Party's brutal reforms (even though he himself signed the document!).  Hardly a reality check when their share of the vote in poll after poll has collapsed. In reality, they now have much less power or political clout than they did when the coalition was formed.  Seasoned Tory MPs such as the unpleasant and obnoxious John Redwood have poured scorn on Clegg’s comments. And although I hate Redwood, on this occasion he is totally correct.

There have been very few principled politicians in Britain over the last few decades for whom I actually have any time. Infact I could literally count them on the fingers of one hand. The late John Smith springs to mind, as does the fantastic Tony Benn and Denis Skinner.  Nick Clegg is the antithesis of these men of decency and principle.

I prophesise that Clegg's last great act of betrayal will be to join the Conservative Party when this unholy Coalition finally splits, and is removed from our collective political and economic misery.  Following him will be the ex-Expenses Trough Treasury Minister David Laws and and his equally devious side-kick Danny Alexander.  Others may defect to Labour, leaving a rump of a party that could rename itself as guess what?

Yep... a 1970s style irrelevant Liberal Party! And good riddance to them I say!

Editor's Note: Andy wrote this article in mid-2011. Since then his views have changed and he intends to withdraw from participaing in the phoney illusion of what masquerades as a do-called 'democratic system'. He has finally realised as a person of scepticism that voting changes nothing. No matter for which party you vote you still end up with the dame political detritus. In the words I use all the time: "Don't vote. It only encourages them".


Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

No comments:

Post a Comment