Friday, March 25, 2011

Is Nick Clegg a Lib Dem?

That's the difficult question I asked myself this morning on reading of Nick's overheard comments to David Cameron yesterday. "If we keep doing this we won't find anything to bloody disagree on in the bloody leadership debates" It may have been said in jest, but like many jokes it perhaps comes closer to the truth than we would like to believe.

Despite my feelings about the Coalition I have not changed my personal regard for Nick, just as I have Tory and Labour pals I am really fond of, I still regard him as a good, brave and liberal person, with whom I still agree on many things...........however............(how did you know there would be a however?!) his overheard comments yesterday disturbed me more than anything that has happened since the Coalition was formed. If he honestly cannot think of any differences with Cameron it gives the lie to the leadership argument that what we have landed up with in terms of Coalition policy is a compromise and the inevitable consequence of not being in power on our own - yeah right!

I understand from someone who was there at the time, that Nick allegedly decided to join the Lib Dems only because he didn't like the Tory position on Europe and LGBT issues. OK, there are many in our party who may quite comfortable in a more liberal Tory party, but they are not the majority. The preample to our constitution which sets out our values clearly, the fact that 2/3rds of our party see themselves as on the left, just a cursory glance at our manifesto and our reams of policy papers - demonstrates that we are not a right wing party. Do we really believe that had Paddy or Charles or Simon Hughes been leader at the moment they could have made such a comment - even in jest? I don't think so.

So, my question is a genuine one, yes Nick is a liberal to his fingertips - that's why I supported him - but is he a liberal democrat one?


Paul Walter said...

I really think you are reading too much into a joke.

"If he honestly cannot think of any differences with Cameron..."

Have you lost your mind Linda? Of course he can think of differences. It is unbelievable that the Linda who physically melted in the presence of Nick Clegg when he was running for leader has now gone from one extreme to the other. Surely you have seen enough of Nick in action to know that starting a sentence with "If he honestly cannot think of any differences with Cameron" really is daft, have you not?


Andrew Hickey said...

I honestly don't see it that way. Clegg is certainly on the right of the party, but we're a broad church - if two thirds of the party think of themselves as on the left, that means a whole third of the party *doesn't*.
I understand your worry, but I think it's unnecessary. I've often made such jokes myself, and it's always been when I've found a little common ground with someone with whom I generally have deep disagreements. The joke wouldn't be funny if they really did agree all that much.
Clegg wouldn't be my choice of leader, and the Tories wouldn't be my choice of coalition partner, but I don't think we have too much reason to worry...

Dan Falchikov said...

More to the point Linda - is Liam Byrne a liberal?

He's the man you've run off to make Labour policy with despite him being a typical Labour reactionary, authoritarian, knee jerk machine politician.

I know who I'd prefer dealing with.

Simon McGrath said...

I suspect Linda is getting ready to jump ship ove rthe Labour. this is all getting ready for the 'it's not me who has changed'line.

If I was a Tory i would be worried that cameron agrees with Clegg on so much.

Unknown said...

There's quite a few "honestly"'s going around here...

Honestly Linda, I think you had some kind of Cleggasm early on and are slowly recovering.

He's not a Lib Dem, he never really claimed to be like us; he's something else (libertarian?). He was always pretty honest about it too, and the party accepted it.

I agree mainly with Andrew - Clegg wouldn't be my choice of leader, and I wouldn't choose a coalition with the Tories, however, I think we have good cause to worry. After the next General Election there's the potential for a parliament with very small LD representation, and the dinosaurs will rule the earth once again! I think Labour and Tories are likely to hold off anything too radical until there's no viable opposition, only each other.

edjoyce said...

Does this mean that Nick has given up on the mansion tax ? This was a major policy for us at the election. Nick has never come out as a libertarian. In fact he has studiously avoided using the word.
Ed Joyce

MatGB said...

This is the wrong question to ask, surely? It's not is Clegg a Lib Dem, that's obvious to anyone that's met him (and I abstained in the leadership election as I thought either would be good and stand by that choice).

The question is surely is David Cameron a Tory?

I've been saying for ages that he's a Whig and his opinions are clearly from the National Liberal wing of the Conservative Party.

So that a liberal conservative mostly agrees, personally, with a centrist Lib Dem shouldn't really surprise anyone.

That one of his greatest cheerleaders during the leadership campaign just didn't notice that Clegg was obviously far more likely to work with Cameron and would obviously get on with him is indicative as well.

JohnM said...

"if we keep doing this....!" What, appearing together and selling coalition policy to an audience it will probably then look strange having a go at each other in a leaders' debate. I think that's what we meant.

He had plenty to say against Tory policy but I will judge him on the NHS issue because he says he has listened and that there will be no privatisation (further privatisation).

Robert said...

Well after 2000 I decided Labour was not my party and I went to a meeting of the Lib Dem's I was asked to attend to speak about disability, I'm severely disabled with Paraplegia a lesion of the spine, but I was turned down for benefits after the new WCA medical they said that I was fit to work.

I spoke at the meeting for a few minutes and it was decided it was obvious I was disabled but they felt that something had to be done about welfare and Labour new medicals.

This week I hear the Tories labour the Liberal have all agreed to the welfare reforms. not to sure where I will go now.

I appealed the decision on the WCA and won my appeal with two minutes of going.

Matthew Harris said...

There's is something unpleasantly McCarthyite about people constantly questioning whether or not other Lib Dems are Lib Dems, based in part on unsubstantiated anecdotage about why different individuals first joined the party. I don't accuse critics of the leadership of not being proper Lib Dems because they disagree with the Lib Dem leadership. Let's accept that everyone in the party is a loyal Liberal Democrat, including those government ministers who are fighting so hard for our party's values every day. I am pleased that Messrs Cameron and Clegg are managing the Coalition so well that they appear to be united in promoting the Coalition Government's agenda.

Anthony said...

To be honest (!) I think it's pretty silly to be questioning our MPs about "whether they are Liberal Democrats" - the vast majority of them would have had a much easier life by joining one of the other parties. And yet they didn't. Even we are a broad church as a party - just like the other big two.

By all means question their judgement, their decisions etc, but in my opinion, to ask "if Nick Clegg is a Lib Dem" is about at the same level as those (stupid) people who say "you should be in Labour".