“Cameron may be the more natural communicator, but it was Clegg who sounded more like a statesman”

Writing in today’s Guardian, Martin Kettle has a good piece looking at the defence of the coalition made by the prime minister and deputy prime minister yesterday.

Clegg’s speech, in particular, impressed – for two reasons:

First, it was a firm defence of the coalition government against its enemies on the Tory benches. In fact it was a much firmer defence of the coalition than Cameron, stylishly ducking and weaving in his radio interview, would now dare to make. Cameron may be the more natural communicator, but it was Clegg who sounded more like a statesman.

Second, and even more interestingly, it was a robust defence of coalition and centre-ground government in general. The section in which Clegg calmly rehearsed the reasons why voters should continue to like coalitions and centrist politics – which have been under almost constant attack since 2010 – was especially effective. “Neither left nor right but forward” may be pretty vacuous, but it could be smart politics. The speech was a timely reminder that the Lib Dems are not dead yet, not least because they continue to lay claim to something important.

And he concludes that Lib Dem participation in government might continue for rather longer than people had originally anticipated:

But the British experiment with coalition has proved more resilient – which is just as well, in view of the increasingly four-party message from the opinion polls. That’s why Labour, prodded by Andrew Adonis’s recent writings and interviews, is again beginning to face up to the possibility. Whatever your view of Clegg, he is the one party leader who believes in coalitions as well as having a self-interest in them. In spite of everything that has happened since 2010, he may well find himself, two years from now, in the right place at the right time once again.

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

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  • There does seem to be a changing attitude towards the party in the press this week. Whilst there are many in the party unhappy with what the government, leadership and some MPs over equal marriage, we seem to be losing the image of being, frankly, not being relevant.

    Whilst we have always been serious and believe in what the party stands for, there is a huge difference between us promoting that idea and non-supporters accepting it. That is what seems to be changing. Support is lower, but we are being taken seriously in the press at least and that is something solid to build upon.

  • All this depends on the effectiveness of the ’57 by-elections’ strategy. To end up with 40 seats would be a real achievement from here. However, there is a balance to be struck between surviving, ie hanging on to at least 25 seats, and preventing irrelevance until 2020,, ie preventing a large (probably Labour) Commons majority, via targeting Lab votes in seats like Stevenage and Tory ones in eg Carlisle.
    The ’57’ strategy needs to informed by local results, especially in 2014, although already Eg Manchester Withington and Burnley look like not worth resourcing, cf Oxwab, St Albans

  • .. laughable & creditworthy article..

  • “it was Clegg who sounded more like a statesman.”

    Nick Clegg was like an early Greek god. A true Titan.

    In fact, these days they call him “Titan Nick” 🙂

  • It goes to show that Charles Kennedy was on to something. It was he that used ‘not right,nor left but forward’ to Conference a few years back. It isn’t vacuous! Promising to have 150 MPps is vacuous as insisting that you will lead the Lib Dems into the next election, in 2015, and beyond is supremely over confident

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