Careful, Boris. Remember what happened to the last top Tory to liken the Lib Dems to a bird?

“The sooner we are shot of the great yellow albatross, in my view, the better.” So said Boris Johnson yesterday, taking a pop at both Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems.

But, as a classics scholar, Boris should beware a little thing called hubris. At the 1990 Tory Party conference, Mrs Thatcher poked fun at the Lib Dems’ new logo, the bird of freedom, by performing the Monty Python “Dead Parrot” sketch:

Within a couple of months, the Lib Dems had triumphed in the Eastbourne by-election and Mrs Thatcher had been sacked by her own MPs.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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31 Comments

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Dec '13 - 10:04am

    Well, ok, but your response here, Stephen, smacks a bit of desperation. The mention of Eastbourne suggests we are stuck in the “lucky by-election” mode. That is where we have been after the Eastleigh by-election, going on and on as if winning that one meant everything was alright and we didn’t need to investigate what we were doing, when actually Eastleigh was probably our best constituency in the country – nearly all councillors still LibDem and unlike many other places no big crash in numbers. We went on and on about Eastleigh as if somehow it was a typical constituency and we could repeat the same in many other, when quite evidently it was completely atypical.

    Of course what Boris Johnson is saying here is contradictory nonsense. On the one hand, Clegg is a “lapdog”, the sort of word our critics on the left use to claim he (and by implication – wrongly, of course, but now the Leninist model of political party has become the norm, that’s how people assume they operate – all Liberal Democrats) has just rolled over and accepted without question every aspect of Conservative Party policy. On the other, as our critics on the right say, he’s this big block, stopping the Conservatives doing all they would do to push our country even more down the Tea Party line, which would obviously rescue our country form all its problems (according to them, and since most of our press work on this assumption, they get away with it).

    However, we seem to be in a situation where Boris Johnson can say whatever he likes and get applauded for it “Ha-ha, what a funny and clever man, obviously a born leader, what mighty intellect, combined with such a pleasant character”. While for Nick Clegg, nothing he can do or say will be treated in any way except negative “What a loser, he has nothing to offer, he’s so weak hah-ha, let’s kick him for that, kicking weaklings is always so funny”. So that’s why Johnson’s contradictory nonsense won’t get rubbished as it should.

    Most people in this country aren’t interested in politics, so they won’t even get the nuances. Clegg is on a losing streak because people have labelled him, they won’t listen to what he says, it’s just “Hah-hah, what a loser”. Chris Smith (Chair of my local party) puts it so well in his recent article. The people he was talking to didn’t have much of a clue about the Liberal Democrats, but they’ve just picked up the idea that something has gone deeply wrong with the party, and that’s a bit funny, just to mention their name is to make a joke.

    What Boris Johnson says here is part of that, it doesn’t matter what he’s really saying underneath, most people will just take it as “Liberal Democrats, hah-ha, what a joke”. Those on the left will pick up the lapdog bit and applaud it, those on the right will pick up the albatross bit and applaud it.

    If our party is to escape from the hole dug for it by Nick Clegg and those surrounding him (see most of my posts in LibDem Voice ever since he emerged on the scene as “obviously our next leader” i.e. I was warning of this when most others thought he was a wonderful vote-winner), it needs to do a LOT more than this rather weak riposte of yours.

  • ” … … when most others thought he was a wonderful vote-winner … …. ”

    Ah yes, I remember it well, one very brief week in April 2010.
    In fact Clegg was not a vote winner not even then – check out the parliamentary bye-election results once he had become leader. People often forget the loss of seats at the 2010 general election once that bubble had burst after the first leaders debate, when people had taken a closer look at him.
    There has been a dismal downward slide ever since.
    Eastleigh was a hold (not a win) because of the excellent work of Keith House and all those brilliant local councillors and activists. They were the people who built the party all those years ago by working hard, week in week out, when Clegg was having fun as a trendy ski-instructor in Austria.

    For all the criticisms of Kennedy he was a far better leader.

    Clegg is to Liberal Democrat electoral success what myxomatosis was to rabbits.

  • Richard Whelan 18th Dec '13 - 11:24am

    Also remember that when Thatcher said this in October 1990 we were on 10% in the polls like we are now. It was the Eastbourne by-election that got us noticed and allowed us to steadily increase our support to 18% by the 1992 General Election.

  • It seems to me Boris is pretty much on the money. Clegg and the Lib Dem have provided excellent cover for the Tories; catching the vitriol for what are, essentially, Tory policies while – at the same time – getting very little credit for the policies they’ve stopped or altered. Boris, of course, wants a pure blue government; why wouldn’t he?

  • Peter Watson 18th Dec '13 - 1:01pm

    @JohnTilley “Eastleigh was a hold (not a win) because of the excellent work of Keith House and all those brilliant local councillors and activists.”
    And also those non-local activists who travelled to work in a constituency hundreds of miles from their own. Fighting 55 Eastleighs will be a challenge.

  • We should have played that video clip to Clegg and his team before coalition negotiations began. A reminder of the true colours of the party that made us “an open and comprehensive offer”.

  • There’s a big difference between Eastbourne and Eastleigh.

    At Eastbourne, having achieved a national vote of 23% at the previous general election, the party saw its share of the vote rise by 21 percentage points in the by-election.

    At Eastleigh, having achieved a national vote of 23% at the previous general election, the party saw its share of the vote fall by 14 percentage points in the by-election.

  • Boris is looking increasingly two faced having to come out with this kind or rhetoric to appeal to the Tory base. Presumably so they don’t notice things like the fact that actually he is much more measured on immigration than they would like in a future leader.

  • Peter Watson 18th Dec ’13 – 1:01pm
    Yes indeed – I was not intending to downplay the contribution of other activists.

  • Richard Whelan 18th Dec ’13 – 11:24am
    Also remember that when Thatcher said this in October 1990 we were on 10% in the polls like we are now. It was the Eastbourne by-election that got us noticed

    Hmmm – How then do you explain the relatively good results in the London Borough elections six moths before Eastbourne? Might it have had something to do with local activists engaged in community politics and therefore providing a base and a core of success that could be built on when Thatcher’s administration started t implode?

    Just the sort of activists that regularly now comment in LDV saying how Clegg is destroying the Party?

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Dec '13 - 4:25pm

    John Tilley

    ” … … when most others thought he was a wonderful vote-winner … …. ” [Me on Nick Clegg]

    Ah yes, I remember it well, one very brief week in April 2010.

    No, it wasn’t just that, I’m going back to the leadership election. In fact the previous leadership election. At that election this MP who hadn’t been an MP for long, though he had been an MEP was being put forward as “obviously the next leader”, he didn’t stand that time, but he did next – all the while being built up by press support as some kind of superior human being, as so obviously better than anyone else in the Liberal Democrats. I couldn’t see what he had. I still can’t. Back then he didn’t seem to have had much real contact with the party, and didn’t seem to have had that much to say. Although he was part of the Orange Book crowd.

    As ever, I thought we needed a leader who had come up through the party, someone who knew what made us tick, who had plenty of experience of grass-roots campaigning, who had that fire so well captured in our slogan about building a society in which “none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”. As ever, the elite who run our media and the rest of our society thought we needed one of them – a public schoolboy type who had absorbed all that trendy free-market stuff, and whose main social contacts were with people like them.

    That is how this country is – if you have that sort of public schoolboy confidence, which comes from being part of that elite, you are judged to be oh-so-clever. If you come from the other end, you are written off, at best your role is to be the loyal second-in-command, the willing-workhorse, the sidekick who balances the posh boy leader. At best, that is.

    Clegg was so pushed and pushed as obviously the next leader that it put off all others from standing, apart from the ultra-arrogant Huhne. We kept being told what a great communicator Clegg was, how clever he was, how it would be madness not to have him as our leader. The Guardian as ever showed its true colours when it too enthusiastically backed Clegg – at heart it is a social elite paper, its form of leftism is always leftism led by social elite people.

    So he got elected. And then disappeared. He proved such a non-entity as leader that his existence in that post was hardly noticed in the wider society. If you had asked people in January 2010 “Who is the leader of the Liberal Democrats?” I suspect only a small proportion would have given the correct answer. But this served him well in the general election campaign. Because he had had so little impact before then, when he appeared on the television screens in the first leaders’ debate, he was something new, a novelty. That led people who hadn’t even thought of voting LibDem up to them to think “Hmm, it’s an option I hadn’t thought of, but now I’ll think about it”. They hadn’t seen enough to continue “Nah, not really”. So there was this big “Cleggmania” poll boost.

    Ultimately that poll boost damaged us. It led to an over-confidence, people took their eye off the ball, targeting plans went awry, the focus of the campaign switched from our policies and ideals to the personality of Clegg. All that build-up made his rather pedestrian performance in the other debates look even worse than it was. He was no worse than the other two, true, but no better. Because of that great build-up, the disappointment at what followed was more. Our usual pattern of a slow build-up of support as the campaign proceeded did not occur – we ended up where we were in the polls when it all started.

  • How sad that this just degenerates into a blame Clegg session. It’s bad enough when it happens outside the party among the vast numbers of critics out there on the left but it is even worse when this mindset is repeated on Lib Dem Voice.

    People who were expecting a leader who could block every single Tory policy and implement every single Lib Dem one, while simultaneously avoiding any implications from the major cuts needed to reduce the deficit are sadly deluded.

    Which imaginary leader could have avoided the vicious, tribal reactions of the Tories, Labour and all their allies against our party as they attempted to preserve their grip on the UK’s political system? Time and time again they have come together to block our party, to deride it and and try to marginalise it.

    The last thing we need is people within our own party to be backing them and echoing their viewpoint.

  • @ Matthew Huntbach

    “So he got elected. And then disappeared. He proved such a non-entity as leader that his existence in that post was hardly noticed in the wider society.”

    Oh, so that’ll be nothing whatever to do with the way in which the vast bulk of the press and media systematically exclude, downplay and disregard anything that the Lib Dems do or say up to the point where they are actually forced to have some minor coverage of our party?

    The lack of net gains was in large part due to well-financed Tory campaigns in key constituencies that cost us a number of our MPs who would normally would have been expected to hold their seats, plus the fact that despite appearing to say they were going to turn out, many of our voters comprehensively failed to do so on the day, probably partly because of the massive press slamming campaign we were subjected to on things like immigration policy.

    I suppose Nick Clegg is somehow to blame for Lord Ashcroft and the Daily Telegraph too now, is he?

  • Out of interest, Matthew, which previously unrecognised genius do you think should have been elected to lead us instead of Nick Clegg? Huhne would have turned out to have been a disaster for the party.

    So who, then?

  • @John Tilley

    “For all the criticisms of Kennedy he was a far better leader.”

    So how do you think he would be faring now, given the personal problems he faced, despite being in the much less stressful role of being the leader of a small opposition party, rather than having to face up to the challenges of being in government?

    The press would have been all over him and he would have been forced out of office.

  • “For all the criticisms of Kennedy he was a far better leader.”

    2001 was the only election I didn’t bother to vote Lib Dem or for anyone. I wasn’t following politics that closely at the time and all the rhetoric about “asbo plus” (I have no idea what the actual policy was) stuff sounded just the same as the other parties.

  • RC 18th Dec ’13 – 6:53pm
    @John Tilley
    “For all the criticisms of Kennedy he was a far better leader.”

    I was pointing to the clear factual record. You are speculating on what you think might have happened.

    It is a matter of fact that the electoral success with Kennedy as Leader was very significant.
    It is also a matter of fact that there has been no electoral success under Clegg who is a dreadful party leader.

    Do you never look at Cameron’s Conservative Party, how it has coped with Coalition, and ask yourself why they have not imploded ?
    You seem to forgive Clegg for everything. Do you not think that as the leader of a political party Clegg should accept responsibility for his failures?

  • RC 18th Dec ’13 – 6:35pm
    Which imaginary leader could have avoided the vicious, tribal reactions of the Tories, Labour and all their allies against our party as they attempted to preserve their grip on the UK’s political system? Time and time again they have come together to block our party, to deride it and and try to marginalise it.

    Selective memory, RC ???

    Do you suggest that those political facts were not evident before Clegg became leader ???

    You ask who – ” could have avoided the vicious, tribal reactions of the Tories, Labour and all their allies against our party as they attempted to preserve their grip on the UK’s political system? ”

    The simple answer is ever single Liberal Leader since the second world war. They have all had to cope with” the vicious, tribal reactions of the Tories, Labour and all their allies”. Or did you not notice at the time?

    Clegg was dealt the best hand of all of them and he yet has squandered it. His repeated personal failures as a leader cannot be wiped away by your own tribal devotion to him.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Dec ’13 – 4:25pm

    Matthew this is a brilliant summary of the Clegg years.

    In particular -
    ” Clegg was so pushed and pushed as obviously the next leader that it put off all others from standing, apart from the ultra-arrogant Huhne. We kept being told what a great communicator Clegg was, how clever he was, how it would be madness not to have him as our leader. The Guardian as ever showed its true colours when it too enthusiastically backed Clegg – at heart it is a social elite paper, its form of leftism is always leftism led by social elite people.

    So he got elected. And then disappeared. He proved such a non-entity as leader that his existence in that post was hardly noticed in the wider society. If you had asked people in January 2010 “Who is the leader of the Liberal Democrats?” I suspect only a small proportion would have given the correct answer. ”

    If the fluke of electoral arithmetic had not pitched him into the role of Deputy to Cameron he probably would be gone by now.

  • “If the fluke of electoral arithmetic had not pitched him into the role of Deputy to Cameron he probably would be gone by now.”

    Hmm. I suspect that if the Tories had scraped a majority Clegg would now be doing very well indeed by denouncing most of the Tory policies he is currently supporting, and presenting himself as a principled statesman who would clean up politics.

  • “Clegg was dealt the best hand of all of them and he yet has squandered it.”

    This is beyond belief this statement. Do you somehow think that Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy, David Steel or Ming Campbell would have been able to magic up some amazing imposition of Lib Dem policies on a parliament where we had even 80MPs? This after having totally neutralised the revival of the Tories under Cameron and the massive amount of cash their supporters spent on targeting Lib Dem sitting MPs and target seats and miraculously overcome the massive deficit with cuts that people scarcely even noticed. Anyone who thinks this rosy scenario is either a complete dreamer or is indulging in a massive bout of wisdom after the event.

  • RC 19th Dec ’13 – 8:53am

    RC you are moving the goalposts. I answered your question. You did not like the answer, so you have changed the question. I guess this is at least an unwitting acknowledgement of the validity of what I said.

    Your defence of Clegg despite his manifest failures is not credible to anyone who looks at the facts. I suggest you read Matthew Huntbach 18th Dec ’13 – 4:25pm and just reflect on what as happened to the party since Clegg became leader.
    How many years of electoral decline will you need before you admit to what has actually happened both before and after the 2010 general election. ?

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Dec '13 - 1:09pm

    RC

    People who were expecting a leader who could block every single Tory policy and implement every single Lib Dem one, while simultaneously avoiding any implications from the major cuts needed to reduce the deficit are sadly deluded

    I have not said that at all. If you think that is my position, you simply have not read all I have been writing about Clegg and the coalition since it as formed. I have in fact defended the position of the Liberal Democrats in the 2010 Parliament, accepted the formation of the coalition as the best workable option, accepted that the situation means only a limited influence in the government the people by their votes chose to have – and confirmed they wanted by supporting the distortion that gave it to them ion the 2011 referendum. I have defended that position not just here in Liberal Democrat Voice, but in letters to national publications – something few others seem to be doing. I have attacked outright as fantasists all those who seem to suppose the Liberal Democrats could have magicked up a government with mainly Liberal Democrat policies out of the 2010 Parliament, I have made clear I have no intention of joining or supporting the Labour Party in its unrealistic attacks on the Liberal Democrats on those grounds, indeed those fantasist attacks are one of the things keeping me in the Liberal Democrats.

    My main criticism of Clegg and those surrounding him are that so much of what they are doing is undermining the sort of defence I would want to mount of them. I am attacking Clegg not for what he has done as a government minister, but for what he has done as Leader of the Liberal Democrats. Please read what I have written elsewhere. From the “Rose Garden” onwards, he has done everything he can to assist those making those fantasist attacks, and thus to damage MY party, by living up to the false image those opponents of ours have been creating.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Dec '13 - 1:15pm

    RC

    Out of interest, Matthew, which previously unrecognised genius do you think should have been elected to lead us instead of Nick Clegg?

    How should I know? I don’t personally know all 57 Liberal Democrat MPs, there may well be several of them I wouldn’t think of who could do an excellent job but I can’t name them as suggestions because I don’t know anything about them but their names.

    What you are saying here supports rather than opposes the point I have been making. If the press chooses to highlight and tell us about only a small number of MP as possible leaders – all people who fit THEIR idea of who our leader should be – does that not indicate how this bias works? People will name who they think is best for the job, based not on full knowledge but on who the press has put forward as having potential, and that will be an extremely biased selection.

  • @ Matthew

    I guess the point that you are struggling with is that there *IS* no viable alternative. Despite how supposedly dreadful Nick Clegg is and how woeful his performance is supposed to be, no-one has come forward to challenge him.

    It is not up to the press to highlight who should be our leader, anyway. It is up to us. If no-one has emerged, at Conference or elsewhere, blaming it on the media really doesn’t hold water.

    Possible future leaders know what a thankless and incredibly difficult task it is. If it really was as easy as everyone like John Tilley pretends, then there would be people with their hats in the ring.

    But there aren’t, are there?

  • RC 19th Dec ’13 – 1:52pm

    If your best response to criticism of Clegg is that nobody is currently standing in a leadership election against him you are scraping the bottom of the barrel. As soon as their is a challenge to him your argument is lost.

    Instead of attacking me for something I have not said (I have not said that anything is easy) why don’t you respond to what I actually said. The last question I put to you was -
    How many years of electoral decline will you need before you admit to what has actually happened both before and after the 2010 general election. ?

  • I believe that Matthew H speaks for the vast majority of activists. Clegg is a highly intelligent hard working decent man. It isn’t enough. The key quality is judgement which he manifestly lacks. Tuition fees was the howler from which he (and we) will never recover credibility and the PR and House of Lords noble attempts sadly spell failure.
    Charles Kennedy has political judgement which is why he and Shirley Williams are nationally credible. Tim Farron, for all his inexperience reflects the pulse of the man in the street which poor old Nick doesn’t really get. His interview in ‘”I” was embarrassing if only because he repeatedly played the Tory ‘It’s all Labour’s fault’ mantra which alienated me never mind the former members we have lost. He isn’t a Tory but he gives a good impression of one.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Dec '13 - 1:10am

    RC

    I guess the point that you are struggling with is that there *IS* no viable alternative.

    None? Well that doesn’t say very much for our Parliamentary party if not one of the other MPs in it is capable of doing that job.

    Despite how supposedly dreadful Nick Clegg is and how woeful his performance is supposed to be, no-one has come forward to challenge him.

    That is an unfortunate aspect of the Leninist model of political party we have. If we had a Liberal model of political party, we would accept that the membership is in charge, so it would be no big thing to change its leader. However, under the Leninist model, it’s all top-down, the party is all about the leader – in theory it’s democratic, but changing the leader is considered a dreadful thing. As a result poor leaders stay on – we’ve seen it in all the parties. No-one dares suggest an alternative, because the merest hint of that is written up in a dramatic way, usually involving terms whose literal meaning is violent, and anyone who tries it is condemned by the “obey your leader” mentality unless they can instantly build big support.

    It is not up to the press to highlight who should be our leader, anyway. It is up to us. If no-one has emerged, at Conference or elsewhere, blaming it on the media really doesn’t hold water.

    But the press DOES highlight who it thinks should be our leader. That’s what I was saying – after Kennedy, Clegg emerged from nowhere, not because he had done anything much to draw attention to himself within the party, but because the press picked him out and anointed him as “obviously the best person to be the next leader”. I would like a more open debate in our party, but come on, how is that to be done? We don’t even have Liberal Democrat News any more, but if we did, would it be running articles on the lines “Here’s some profiles of people you could choose as leader in the place of the present one”? It’s not going to happen is it? Not so long as any discussion on these lines is written up as some sort of dreadful treachery, instead of a natural aspect of liberal democracy. We need to find a way of moving towards political parties being seen as primarily networks of their members, with the leader just as a servant of those members, rather than political parties seen primarily as tools of their leaders, with members as a sort of salesforce, there to do what they are told, not there to work together as a democratic community. That is, we need to find a way of establishing a true liberal democratic model of political party.

    Possible future leaders know what a thankless and incredibly difficult task it is. If it really was as easy as everyone like John Tilley pretends, then there would be people with their hats in the ring.

    I’m not saying it isn’t difficult. But your line seems to boil down to it’s difficult, therefore whoever is doing it is doing a good job. People aren’t throwing their hats into the ring because we know the press puts forward this leader-oriented Leninist model of political party, and therefore anyone who attempted to do so would be attacked remorselessly. Therefore no-one will do it unless it’s done as a token career-ending gesture, or they are really, really confident they can win. It would be great if we could have a sensible discussion in these issues, one in which various MPs could put themselves forward as possible alternative leaders, and suggest different ways of doing things, without that being written up with the usual words like “backstabbing” and the like.

    Since the coalition was formed I have not just attacked Clegg’s leadership here, I have throughout suggested alternative strategies. The prime one would have been to have been open from the start about how limited our power is within the coalition, instead of exaggerating what we could do and boasting about how wonderful it is to be “in government”. Exaggerating what we can do makes it seem we are more responsible for the extreme right-wing policies of this government than we really are, which has lost us HUGE numbers of supporters. Boasting about being “in government” is seen by most people as just “all they really wanted was power, they don’t have any principles”, and has made us a laughing stock. What we SHOULD have done from the start is expressed our unhappiness at this government, and made clear our support for it is ONLY because we understand Britain needs a stable government and this is the one the way the people voted and the system they supported gave us. We should NOT have issued all this stuff about the past Labour government being so bad, but the current government being so wonderful, because that places us well away from the position of neutrality between the two other parties we used to have. Our analysis should instead say that what is wrong with our country goes back to previous governments of BOTH parties.

    Above all, a really decent leader with true liberal democratic sentiments would NOT be talking down to us as Clegg does. He or she would be eager to listen to what we are saying, and demonstrate wanting to lead the whole party by making sure ALL opinions within it are promoted – instead of showing a huge bias to one strand of opinion, as Clegg has – the economic right-wing strand.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Dec '13 - 1:25am

    On the way the press picks who it wants, I find it interesting the way in the Labour Party, Ed Miliband is always being accused of having “stabbed” his brother, or some other similar term. Why is it that it was and still is considered dreadful for Miliband(E) to have stood, but not Miliband(D)? Why isn’t Miliband(D) equally accused of stabbing Miliband(E) by standing?

    It seems to me that what happened was that the press had already anointed Miliband(D) as the next leader of the Labour Party. So that is why they considered it so bad of Miliband(E) to have stood. In the Conservative Party, they’re pushing forward Boris Johnson. So everything he does is written up as “Hah-hah, isn’t he a funny man, very clever too”, whereas if someone they didn’t like were to do or say the same things, that person would be under huge attack for it. If the level of incompetency Johnson is establishing as Mayor of London were being established by anyone whose politics wasn’t so economically right-wing as Johnson’s, that person would be getting torn to shreds.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Dec ’13 – 1:25am
    ” If the level of incompetency Johnson is establishing as Mayor of London were being established by anyone whose politics wasn’t so economically right-wing as Johnson’s, that person would be getting torn to shreds. ”

    Yes, the tory Mayor of London is astonishingly incompetent. He is allowed by his friends in the media to bluster and bully his way out of being accountable. His rich backers in The City and the media got him elected and then re-elected.

    This is part of The Guardian report of what Johnson actually said -
    Johnson reserved his customary caustic classical allusions for Clegg, likening him to Valerian, the only Roman emperor to be captured as a prisoner of war. He said: “I don’t want to cast aspersions on my fellow, on what is he? He is a radio disc jockey now isn’t he Clegg?
    “I’m sure he has many, many important ceremonial duties. He is a lapdog of David Cameron who has been converted by taxidermy into a kind of sort of, what’s the word, protective shield. Like the Emperor Valerian who was skinned and hung on the wall, that’s what he reminds me of.
    “He is a very, very decorative part of the constitution that’s all I would say. ”

    Now most of us do not have a clue who the Emperor Valerian was because we did not go to the same sort of school as Johnson and Clegg. Perhaps it is time that we elected political leaders who do not have their heads full of fairy tales from ancient Rome.

    He is the public school boy who cannot compete with the supposedly suave Cameron so he over-compensates with buffoonery and serial infidelities. His references to Clegg are couched in the ‘secret language’ of Classics so as to fool the public into thinking he is jolly clever and well read, when in fact his academic achievements are nothing to write home about.

  • Maybe the Parliamentary party should elect the leader in future. At least they know something about the candidates unlike the majority of members. Jo Grimond, Jeremy Thorpe, David Steel were all well known national figures. After that ???

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