Nick Clegg’s Message

The British began to make the big subconscious assumption that there would be a change of government in 2010

I am certain that the Tories will win

What crouton of substance did Nick Clegg offer last Thursday?

It must have been a couple of years ago that I was having dinner with the great Max Hastings, former editor of this paper, and he was being so gloomy about Conservative prospects that I scented a financial opportunity. Tell you what, I said, let’s have a bet. A thousand pounds says the Tories will win the next election. How about that?

“Done!” said my old mentor, with the wolfish gleam of one taking candy from a baby. And from that moment on, of course, the Tories started to soar in the polls. Gordon Brown lurched from one disaster to the next. The British ruling class – the BBC, the NHS senior managers, the university vice-chancellors, those kinds of people – began to make the big subconscious assumption that there would be a change of government in 2010.

At last the matter came to seem so settled that Max decided to run up the white flag. When David Cameron started to record poll leads of 20 per cent, a cheque arrived in the post for a thousand pounds. I promptly cashed it, and (to my shame) forgot to thank Max for being both so sporting and so realistic. It was big of him to acknowledge the way history was moving and even bigger to cough up before it was strictly necessary to do so.

It would only be human, after all, to start to wonder. Will he win that grand after all? Will this amazing and ludicrous burst of Cleggophilia keep the Tories from government?

Watching that debate, I had the clear impression that Cameron aced every question. His answers were clear, concise and knowledgeable.

Gordon Brown seemed stale and deeply unconvincing in his core assertion, that it was necessary to keep wasting exactly the same amount of money in order not to stall the recovery.

As for Clegg, I remember thinking that it was indeed a historic debate – the moment when the idea of a third force in British politics finally shrivelled under the Manchester TV lights. He was by far the worst.  And so you can imagine my amazement when those polls started to come in, and the news that the punters overwhelmingly scored it for Cleggie. It was one of those times when there seems to be only one solution to the problems of British politics, and that is to dissolve the electorate and summon a new one.

What has happened to us all, when serious papers can start raving about “Prime Minister Clegg”? Has someone put something in the water supply? Has some sulphur yellow cloud descended imperceptibly from Iceland and addled our brains? These are Lib Dems we are talking about!  They go around every university campus promising to abolish “Labour’s unfair tuition fees” – while dear Cleggie tells his party conference that this policy, this cardinal Lib Dem policy, would cost £12 billion and that the country can’t afford it. In the north of England you will find plenty of Lib Dem literature extolling their “mansion tax”, a proposal on which they remain deafeningly silent in places like Richmond and Kingston.

Everybody treats Vince Cable as a semi-holy Mahatma Gandhi of British politics, because he is supposed in some way to have anticipated the financial crisis. Actually his most notable recommendation before the crisis was that Britain should join the euro – a move that would gravely have worsened our current position by leaving us in a Greek-style straitjacket.

What crouton of substance did Clegg offer last Thursday, in the opaque minestrone of waffle? He wants to get rid of Trident. Great! So Lib Dem foreign policy means voluntarily resigning from the UN Security Council, abandoning all pretensions to world influence, and sub-contracting our nuclear deterrent to France!  The worst of it is that if you do vote Lib Dem in the demented belief that there could ever be such a thing as a Lib Dem government, you won’t get Prime Minister Clegg. You’ll get Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for five more holepunch-hurling years, because the Lib Dems almost always vote with Labour.

That is why the current madness cannot last. The Lib Dems are everywhere today, like the orange spores of an exploded puffball. Next week they will be gone with the wind. Clegg is the beneficiary of cunning Labour spin, bigging up the third party in order to take the shine off the Tories. But when people understand that a vote for Clegg is a vote for Brown, they will stay their hands, and they will see that it is only by voting Tory that they can give this country the change it needs.

For a fuller version of the above see The Daily Telegraph here

35 thoughts on “Nick Clegg’s Message”

  1. I am glad I am not the only one who had that reaction after last Thursday, I thought Clegg was lightweight, he was overacting and repetative.Then suddenly he is the talk of town ! go figure. Cameron must bring in yourself and David Davis and go after them on the Europe and Trident areas. It’s appalling that most of the people now waving yellow flags do not have the first idea of the implications of what the Glib Dems mean

  2. Norman, most people just do not know what the Lib Dems stand for! Their chances were so unfancied, they have not been subjected to any scrutiny. Thank goodness Boris and others are laying it on the line, because people need to know that Nick Clegg and also Vince Cable are not the white knights they pretend.

    It’s easy to preach, but Nick Clegg is no ingenue. He has been around for quite some time, making zilch impact and there are reasons why the Lib Dems have been out of power for 95 years.

  3. Yo Bozza! It seems that the electorate really is so shallow as to prefer a personable young chap over a jaded accounts clerk and a waffling third rate PR man. It can’t be about policies, because they are the same as they were this time last week. Cameron must be taught not to shoot himself in the foot by thinking that people will like him. Not sure who will tell him that – I’d keep my head down if I were you.

  4. I think large swathes of the British public are confusing Cleggie with a new brand of soap powder – gets rid of more stains than all the others – and I’m sure he’s kind to the environment too. Grrr!

  5. Only Boris could think gloating over a £1000 bet would win voters during the worst recession since his party were in power.

    ….oh, and as for disagreeing with Labour….just don’t mention the war(s).

  6. Unfortuantely, dave comes across as neither one thing nor the other. The public do not, I think, regard dave as a man of the people, but neither does he come across as a proper toff. The name gives it away; he isn’t really called ‘dave’, any more than the insurance person on the phone from Bangalore is really ‘Steve’. Gordon is just as alien, unless you happen to be a strange, angry Scotchman. So we are left by the boy Clegg, who looks the kind of chap you wouldn’t mind your daughter marrying.

    If you lent Mr Clegg a thousand quid you’d expect to get it back. Gordon would deny that he’d ever received the money, while dave would prove to you that it had been a donation and that you had, in fact, promised another four. Clegg’s the only regular guy so, hopeless as his party’s policies may be, people will vote for him.

  7. Clegg’s still got two more of these hurdles to jump. Everyone will be expecting him to ace these as well or be seen as a flash in the pan. And once people realise that he’d quite happily sign up to the Euro yesterday he’ll be a dead duck waddling.

    David Cameron just needs to hold his nerve and stick to his strategy.

  8. Be aware of this from todays Open Europe bulletin, this is what Clegg wants!!!

    “AFP notes that the Commission’s proposal for stronger EU control over member states’ budgets, which would require national governments to submit their budgets to Brussels before taking them to their own parliaments, could be extended also to non-Eurozone members, EU Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn has said.”
    FT EUobserver European Voice EU Observer El País ABC Expansión Handelsblatt AFP

  9. I think all three should be got rid of as candidates and BoJo’ should have a go at running for PM. Boris would certainly have a lot more support and common sense for that matter than the rest of them.

    And apparently its dead easy to apply for the role too . . .
    Found this while job hunting (A 2:1 graduate and thanks to Brown’s recession still without real work after 18 months. Thanks GB) Hell maybe even I should apply . . .

    http://www.jobsgopublic.com/jobs/prime-minster-of-great-britain-pm-1234567/from/1ki524rnbh07fw/13/of/971/opening_at/desc

  10. @Norman Dee: Really? oh dear. ………Should i get the picket signs back out from the closet? (just to clear it up,i’m not being sarcastic)
    Or do you think i should go and pick up the campaign bus from the garage? ……
    …….i’m not sure, i was fighting the good fight full throttle , then when i realized that the lib-dems were already starting to be revealed by various people….
    I thought it best to quietly support them… now Boris has well and truly stuffed their turkey!
    So i am at a loss do i;…… 1.go for the bus 2.picket signs banners and sashes or 3. maybe just a few sashes and one picket sign, and rely on the obvious advantage a tory victory and pure amount of havoc that would be born out of a lib dem victory…. to be noticed by Britain ??

    Oh the poor bus must be very lonely in that garage…..no ! i will resist the temptation! (i hope)
    Even if i have never done so before!

  11. Tiresias: but Dave would at least give you a baronetcy, no?

    Boris, your blog is full of wonders, not the least of which is the sight of you twisting yourself into a pretzel trying to convince people not to vote for the charismatic oddball.

  12. Thank goodness for common sense. I was beginning to think I was the only one in the country to think Clegg was lightweight. To me, Clegg and Brown appeared to be playing to each other. When not playing with Gordon, Clegg then talked to the camera (people at home) and forgot about the audience.
    Some of what he had to say was alright, but basically I thought he was out of his depth but managed to soldier on not too badly thanks to Gordon and his role playing against David.

    Gordon Brown acted like an overgrown schoolboy trying to get constant swipes at the most popular boy in school. He continually talked over DC in the most rude manner unbefitting for a Prime Minister, which just went to show me how completely unsuitable he was for the role he finds himself in since Tony handed him the job.

    David Cameron, was calm, controlled, assertive, but well mannered and polite at all times. He didn’t play to the camera, nor did he join in with Gordon and Nick’s little tete a tete’s. He showed himself to be a true leader in waiting. My only worry is that he doesn’t seem concerned about the House of Lords and kept very quiet on that one. He has to realise that the public do not like all the ex convicts and rather ill bred types in the Lords these days. I am more than happy with hereditary peers, but real aristocracy, not the ruffians each Prime Minister has befriended and given an hereditary peerage to. They are the ones we need to see cleared out and I hope David does that.
    Based on what I saw in the debate that evening, there is only one man suitable for the job and that has to be David Cameron.

  13. Raincoaster mentions a Baronetcy for Boris. Baronetcy! Shock and horror at the very thought that the lowest form of title should be bestowed on one as grand and deserving as our beloved Boris. If a peerage was handed to old crook Jeffrey Archer (for doing nothing as it turned out)) then Boris must at least be an Earl if not a Duke!

  14. Dear Boris,

    A change is needed in British politics and the Tories having chosen change as their election mantra has started the electorate thinking about what change is. The conclusion is that what the Tories mean when they say change is that it is Davids turn to play with the toy. It was a big mistake to agree to the leader debate precisely because it was a change and it wetted the appetite. Boris thinks its all terribly unfair and it is to those who have been raised with the expectation that nothing is ever going to change.

    Peter Wall

  15. The problem with the Lib Dems is that, as individuals, they can be very nice people.

    BUT! Put them together as the Lib Dems and they lose all sense of decency. They think they know best and they become illiberal and undemocratic and believe that the ends justify the means and resort to very dubious practices in order to try to achieve their goals.

  16. Are we supposed to rate comments according to whether we agree with them, or whether they are well argued, interesting and properly spelt? [Ed: whether we agree with them – on a purely personal basis – although any lack of coherent argument, lack of interest or appalling grammar is not helpful]

  17. If you rated on -say- spelling you could vote against something that you agreed with, based on something that might have been a typo.

    Would that work for you as a rating system? I don’t think it would work for me.

  18. I listened to the debate on Radio 4. Whilst I dislike Mr Brown on account of his policies, I thought (to coin a phrase) he had a radio voice (although I couldn’t believe a word he said). Mr Cameron sounded a little hoarse (but I liked what he said). Lastly, I thought that Mr Clegg was useless – so useless that I actually felt sorry for him. However, I also remarked to my listening companion that I wouldn’t be surprised if radio listeners, unused to the vile excesses of Strictly Come Dancing (and worse), would go a different way to television viewers. Whether this is true or not, I have no way of knowing: maybe I am a bit surprised that radio itself hasn’t had the self-confidence to discuss this point.

  19. If Boris were taking part in the next leadership debate, it
    wouldn’t be a question of “would he do well?”

    He would have to use the words of Darth Vader in Star Wars. “Don’t make me destroy you…..”

    Saint Nick, your astrological aspects are awful for the 22nd. (wonder how many thumbs down I will get for this, a lot I hope! I like being the naughty one.)

  20. Has anyone else noticed that whilst all this Clegg drivel occupies the media space, the country is at war?
    That British soldiers are being killed, every week?
    And this, after nine years of fighting.
    Can anyone tell me why?
    Does anyone care?

  21. If we’re using our electronic thumbs to show whether we agree with a comment, it seems inappropriate to relegate comments that receive the ‘red thumb’ treatment. We might suppress uninteresting comments but not, surely, dissentient ones. Otherwise we might as well be a Labour Party blog. [Ed: As you know most websites do monitor comments and suppress what they deem to be inappropriate. That is a very subjective matter. On this site we would not suppress comments already approved unless we have strong reasons to. If there is a strong thumbs down the value system here merely puts the comment down a peg and partially suppresses it; a mere press of a button would allow anyone to see it. I hope that reassures you]

  22. I am so pleased to hear you say this, Mr. Johnson. I cannot understand why anyone was impressed with Copycat Clegg in the first debate! He blatantly tried (and failed), to imitate David Cameron. I thought Mr. Cameron was excellent and deserved more praise for his performance.

  23. Janina Davison-Forder, I’m sorry but I have no idea what you are saying, otherwise I would honestly reply to your comment. If it’s critical, I would point out that 17 “thumbs up” is not a bad feedback, if you are actually being supportive then thank you. (What about those 17 “thumbs up” eh eh??).

  24. http://cyberboris.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/cleggie-monstered-over-his-expenses/

    IT’S PAYBACK TIME. THE TWO C’S GET THEIRS!

    Cleggie squirms as Andrew Neil monsters him over his expenses and then a LibDem aide leaves Cleggie’s debate strategy in a taxi cab!

    Neil then savages Cable over his reputation for honesty, and it’s Vince’s turn to stutter and stammer.

    George Osborne finally loses patience and when Cable and Darling try to gang up on him, floors Darling with a knockout punch.

    See the first two seedy scenarios on videos on the above link. The gloves are off!

  25. @Norman Dee: Sorry my sense of humor. what i was saying was …
    i know about clegg and his pro-eu attitude. I just couldn’t believe it would go that far.

    It was by no means a criticism . I was just stuck, i didn’t know whether to fight the tory cause like hell, or if i should leave it be and wait for the public to realize that a blue vote is the only logical one. I cannot understand how even in the most confused minds lies the belief that the lib-labourites ideas can benefit the country. I feel common sense has not only jumped out the window but boarded the nearest euro-star in hopes of greener grass and such like. Yes there may be green grass at the other end , although, it doesnt really count when we have paid for it! So no was just expressing my eccentricity lol

  26. I cannot understand how this labour mp shahid malik was allowed to disgrace our parliamentary system with his disgraceful religious bigotry. We have a race relation law but it seems powerless to deal with this type of incitement to hatred. It was only when he got caught with outrageous expense fraud that he was finally sacked (or forced to resign). Thats what Browns Britain has done for us

  27. It’s astounding how many people were taken in by him though;
    I’m 20 and will be a first time voter, but everyone my age seems to be voting Lib-dem. And not because they’ve looked at the policies either; because they thought Nick ‘looked good’.

    Someone should really point out that the Lib-dems want the euro; it may well swing the vote?

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