Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Nick Clegg, Michael White.........True Confessions

While atTory party conference I visited the stand and got them to look me up. Their assessment of my blog was that it was excellent, although declaring that the funniest thing about it was the way I swoon over my leader.....for me the funniest thing was that they also described me as the "eminence grise" of conference - yes I had to look up what it meant :-). Well...........I have a confession to make..........its not Nick Clegg I swoon over.......its Michael White. Scary but true! None is his equal. Has any other political commentator his wit or charm? Or dulcet tones? Or classic good looks? Oh yes, if anyone is to make me swoon it has to be Mr W. But I have to confess to having a mixed reaction to his latest missive about our dear leader. On the one hand he is generous in his acknowledgement of the validity of the principles underpinning our manifesto, having listed them he takes issue with our ability to clean up politics but goes on to say - "But overall it's wholesome enough. Fairness matters in healthy societies. Ours is out of balance again and needs a decent tweak. The Lib Dems are sincere in wanting to deliver improvement. It's the politics they may find tricky."

It is his assertion that Clegg is closer to the Tories "because he's a market man, not a social democrat at heart: it's the old Liberal-SDP split, Paddy Ashdown v Charles Kennedy, Menzies Campbell v Simon Hughes, Vincent Cable v Chris Huhne. Clegg's indignant denials are the "narcissism of small difference" that I take issue with. Whilst he acknowledges that he might be wrong and that "it won't matter much. Whatever Clegg's private inclinations (his Sheffield Hallam constituency is one of Britain's richest), his party is culturally anti-Tory at heart and will nip any temptation in the bud as it did when Jeremy Thorpe was tempted to sustain the defeated Ted Heath in office in February 1974." He has hit on a misrepresentation of Nick that feeds into an unjust perception, fed by the right wing media and hence prevalent amongst many of our potential supporters, that he is "Cameronlite". Yes, it may be reasonably fair to suggest he is a market man, and if that was the sum total of all that he is, I certainly would never have supported him. White, like many before him, has confused values and methodology. Nick, wrongly in my view of course, has a belief that the market can help deliver social objectives. But make no mistake, what drives him is not that blind belief in the market that characterises Tory philosophy, but a belief that we can and must have a fairer society. That we can and must redress the balance through fairer taxes and investment in improving the life chances of all our children. That we can and must fulfil the reason d'etre of our party - to build a fair, free and open society, balancing liberty, equality and community, in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

And that, dear Mr W, is light years away from being a mere "market man".


Paul Walter said...

Happy New Year!

I am not surprised you swoon over Michael White. He is a Cornishman!

Linda Jack said...

Ah yes - that explains it!!!!!!