Call Clegg makes Nick “more approachable and familiar” than any other leader

call cleggPraise for Nick Clegg and his Call Clegg show is found in Gillian Reynolds’ radio review column in the Telegraph today:

Call Clegg, the weekly live phone-in on LBC hosted by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg but steered by Nick Ferrari, was a novelty when it started two years ago but has achieved unexpected wonders. It’s allowed a sliver of regular direct access to a politician in a position of power. (Not much power, you might say, but, admit it, more access than anyone else in this situation would allow.) It has, therefore, made Clegg seem more approachable, more familiar than any other mainstream party leader. It has also put LBC on the map to an audience outside London because, since the station made itself universally available via the internet, everyone can, theoretically, listen to it now. In addition, most Fridays the national newspapers carry something said on the show, whether by Clegg, Ferrari or a caller. It has become, in short, a national political landmark.

It was a pretty bold thing for the Deputy Prime Minister to do. Taking questions, live, for half an hour every week from members of the public is quite a feat. You wouldn’t have found John Prescott or Michael Heseltine doing that.


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  • Gillian Reynolds’ Radio Review is always worth reading.
    For example this report on our very own David Boyle’s programme —

    “Yesterday Radio 4 carried two significant accounts of social change, Robert Peston’s The Price of Inequality in the morning, David Boyle’s Clinging On: the Decline of the Middle Classes in the evening. Peston’s was a personal report from Davos, Boyle’s feature sprang from his book Broke: Who Killed the Middle Classes? Both told of a dramatically widening gap between high and low earners, partly brought about by a decline in jobs (through technology, through shifts in the global work force,) but mostly by the very high rewards that go to a tiny minority at the top of the finance industry.
    Each mentioned London becoming more a city of capital and less of a capital city, with sky high property prices, empty flats owned as foreign investments, a non-resident work force. Boyle dwelt on the consequent effect on the traditional middle-class professions – doctors, solicitors, academics, school teachers – who even on two professional salaries can’t afford the lifestyles of their parents’ generation. Peston was intrigued, Boyle was indignant and what both of them had to say, for themselves or via experts, was rivetingly pertinent.”

  • David Evans 18th Feb '15 - 4:09pm

    Do you think things have changed much in the last 9 months to make Nick more popular? If so let me know which and I will try them on the doorstep! 🙂

  • @ Seth

    Previous Lib Dem leaders did not have to face the combined forces of scapegoating and bullying from both Labour and the Tories together because they never had any position in government and many people did not have a view about them.

    It is obvious that if you are the leader of a third, smaller party with the supporters of other parties choosing to gang up on you and then you ask them what they think, the overall picture is going to be one of net negative response.

    Most of the negative views are driven by Labour voters who can’t forgive Clegg for not propping up their party in power, despite it being kicked out with 29% of the vote in 2010 and Tory voters who can’t forgive him for stopping their party doing what it wanted for the last five years.

    Clegg remains the fly in the two-party duopoly ointment and for that an awful lot of people hate him.

  • RC

    Your theory does not actually stand up to scrutiny. Leaders of third parties are often very popular despite being the but of jokes and constant attacks from the bigger parties. David Steel, Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy were usually far more popular than their party or the other leaders. In Scotland the leader of a small third party ended winning an overall majority under an electoral system specifically designed to stop him from so doing.

    The lack of popularity of Clegg results not from circumstances or astrology or the direction of the wind but it results from Clegg, from his actions, his Tory-lite positioning and from his incompetence on things like Constitutional Reform.

    If you want an example of a third party leader in Coalition who remained popular then check out Hans Dietrich Genscher.
    At his last appearance in the German Parliament he was given a standing ovation by members of all the parties in that parliament. Clegg would be lucky to get a standing ovation from all the MPs of even one party.

  • Tony Dawson 18th Feb '15 - 5:08pm
  • Simon Tomlin 18th Feb '15 - 6:31pm

    Clegg has always struck me as a very approachable politician; the trouble is, he’s also failed to stand up for students, the poor and the sick. He’s familiar, yes, but increasingly held in contempt.

    And, btw, Libdems (Cable and Alexander particularly) also seem to be pretending that they weren’t in government when evidence of potential wrongdoing by HSBC was handed over – why didn’t they raise questions about this sooner?

    It’s very sad to see the party so unpopular now, and I do feel sorry for those hard-working activists around the country who helped build it to its 2010 zenith. But I think Clegg has set it back a generation.

  • “Call Clegg makes Nick “more approachable and familiar” than any other leader”

    Where is your evidence for this? I live in his constituency and you always used to hear positive comments about him until 2010. I voted for him and have met him (and believed him unfortunately). When out and about I hear nothing but contempt for him amongst friends, colleagues and family who have always supported him and LDs, no matter where I go. The LDs are trying very hard at the moment to get his message across. I’ve had many visits since Xmas , but it always falls in deaf ears. I get the feeling the result will be very close in Sheffield, hence the desperation. “More approachable and familiar” are not words I would use to describe him anyway.

  • David Evans 18th Feb '15 - 9:15pm

    Yes Simon, but given it was demonstrably true nine months ago and Nick done nothing to change it since then, I would consider it to be a reasonable point to make that he is still phenomenally unpopular. Indeed, my worry remains that his appearance in the debates will actually kill off any hope of recovery, and probably make things worse, by reminding people of the hope for real change he gave them in 2010 – “An end to broken promises” etc..

  • There is plenty of polling evidence of Clegg’s unpopularity. Yougov do regular tracker polls & pages 10 – 12 of this link will show the numbers for Clegg but I warn you, it isn’t pretty !

  • I wish Mr. Clegg Sing jia yu ee sing ni huat chai- Happy Chinese New Year- and to all of you.

  • Manfarang 19th Feb ’15 – 3:23am

    Sing jia yu ee sing ni huat chai- to you too.

    In the Year of The Sheep with Clegg as leader will it be “Lambs to the slaughter” ?

  • Tony Dawson 19th Feb '15 - 9:07pm

    @JohnTilley 19th Feb ’15 – 8:38am

    “In the Year of The Sheep with Clegg as leader will it be “Lambs to the slaughter” ?”

    I actually think Norman is totally safe in North Norfolk. 🙂

  • John Tilly
    It is also the Year of the Ram or Goat .The Chinese have the same word for sheep, ram, or goat.

  • No matter what the subject of the thread, there will always be some bores who turn it into an anti-Clegg tirade. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  • David Evans 20th Feb '15 - 9:20am

    Interesting how Nick’s supporters try to turn a simple, objetive assessment of Nick’s performance into “an anti-Clegg tirade” by “bores.” Sadly it simply proves the truth in the saying ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see.’ It will be interesting to see how they react to the view of the electorate to their hero’s performance in May’s elections. Probably it will be “ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.”

  • How appropriate that Tim Hill should make his comment in the year of the sheep.

    He could save himself time in future by just commenting “Baa Baa… ….Baaaa”

    We will know exactly what he means because all he wants is meek obedience, for everyone to follow the leader like a flock of fluffy, unthinking sheep.

    Happy grazing, Tim Hill.

  • Nick Collins 20th Feb '15 - 9:50am

    “Most of the negative views are driven by Labour voters who can’t forgive Clegg for … and Tory voters who can’t forgive him for ….”

    Not to mention former LibDem voters who can’t forgive him for …

    Who does that leave? People who fall into none of the above categories, to whom he is of little or no interest.

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