Clegg to embark on summer ‘bring on the hatred’ tour

Nick Clegg certainly isn’t one to shy away from voters, even at a time when the Lib Dems, he personally, and the government he’s part of are all suffering from unpopularity. Ever since Nick became leader he’s placed a premium on direct voter contact through his ‘town hall’ meetings. It was a smart strategy which not only earned valuable exposure through the local media, but also ensured he was much more prepared and ready for the televised election debates in 2010.

And this summer he’s setting off on a tour of 13 meetings at which he’s under no illusions he’ll be put on the spot by voters. His team are drawing historical comparisons with Franklin D Roosevelt’s uncompromising battle-cry when facing re-election in 1936, “They are unanimous in their hate for me โ€“ and I welcome their hatred.” A closer British example is Tony Blair’s so-called ‘masochism strategy’ in the lead up to the 2005 general election, when he faced voter anger over the Iraq war and Labour’s tuition fees U-turn.

Here’s how the Indy reports it today:

Aides believe Mr Clegg has some positive messages to sell to an unimpressed electorate. Notably, he has emerged untarnished from the Leveson inquiry, as both Labour and Tories were forced to defend getting too close to the Murdoch empire. The party base has also been buoyed by the sight of Mr Clegg leading the environmental agenda at the Rio summit last week, the Tory infighting over gay marriage and the Lib Dems’ opposition to plans to scrap GCSEs.

The days of apologising for being in government are over, say party insiders. Instead, Mr Clegg will be seen to take on critics and attempt to explain what influence the party is having in government. “It is good for our members to see Nick setting out his case. It’s good resilience training for them. It helps them when they knock on doors.”

I’m not sure the latter two (slightly high-handed) comments will help endear the strategy to activists, who probably feel resilient enough already. But the overall message — that Nick Clegg wants to put across the Lib Dem message direct to voters who otherwise hear only the relentless barrage of Tory, Labour and media hostility — is a welcome one.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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20 Comments

  • Nicola Prigg 24th Jun '12 - 12:00pm

    Where are the dates for this summer “bring on the hatred” tour? Since demand is high, it might have to continue until 2015.

  • “But the overall message โ€” that Nick Clegg wants to put across the Lib Dem message direct to voters who otherwise hear only the relentless barrage of Tory, Labour and media hostility ”

    Most of the barrage of hostility I’ve come across has been from Lib Dem members and voters,

  • Peter Chegwyn 24th Jun '12 - 12:39pm

    Who on earth has promoted the idea of a ‘Bring on the Hatred’ Tour and the ridiculous comparisons between Nick Clegg and Franklin D Roosevelt? The article above begins: “Nick Clegg certainly isn’t one to shy away from voters” . I wish he was then maybe we wouldn’t see so many voters shying away from the Lib. Dems.

  • I confess to being utterly gobsmacked by this. In the name of all that is sane, how could anyone seriously compare Nick Clegg’s experience with that of FDR? – the latter made the comment “I welcome their hatred” because he was talking about the titanic greed of bankers and investors in the 1930s. Whatever ‘hatred’ Clegg may attract, it is not because he is taking on the rich, it is because he is allowing the Tories to fufill their dream of demolishing the welfare state and de-democratising public services. QED.

  • Richard Dean 24th Jun '12 - 1:08pm

    A speaking tour is very good – but 13 venues looks too few. In a summer of three months it ought to be possible to do at least 50. Calling it “Bring on the Hatred” is just plain stupid, for the very sensible reasons given above.

  • Mr Clegg.it is not your style and presentation that is wrong and people’s failure to understand, because the party has not communicated the policies well enough.It is the substance of the policies that you have enabled the Tories to get through, including the NHS restructuring, for which the party will pay a high electoral price, in my opinion.Even today, Laws is calling for more cuts and the Quad of four, are like four peas in a pod, Tory thinkers to a man.
    I personally think that this coalition has been a disaster for our public and health and welfare services.There seems to be a disconnect between the party leaders and members and three more years of this is a tragedy for our country, in my view.

  • I agree with Margaret.

  • David from Ealing 24th Jun '12 - 6:51pm

    I remember Jeremy Thorpe’s summer of 1974 hovercraft tour…

  • “In the name of all that is sane, how could anyone seriously compare Nick Cleggโ€™s experience with that of FDR?”

    I understand they also considered “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” …

  • Tony Dawson 24th Jun '12 - 7:41pm

    “Aides believe Mr Clegg has some positive messages to sell to an unimpressed electorate. ”

    Lib Dems suffering yet again from the insidious effects of Aides? ๐Ÿ™

    Who are these ‘Aides’? Who are this ‘team’? How are they allowed to hide behind anonymity? I thought we were against the unattributable lobby system! The same crew, presumably, responsible for our poor general election showing in 2010 and the disastrous AV campaign. Name the names!

  • Tony Dawson 24th Jun '12 - 8:06pm

    This is much more use to the Lib Dems in connecting with people’s identifications and gut feelings:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2163981/Danny-Alexander-Two-pence-knocked-income-tax-tax-dodgers-paid-up.html

    One and a half cheers for Danny! Maybe, even, two! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I disagree with Margaret.

    It’s simplistic sloganising.

    Times are hard. The decisions are tough. But the claim that the coalition has been a disaster needs a little evidence.

  • Peter Chegwyn 24th Jun '12 - 9:46pm

    “The claim that the coalition has been a disaster needs a little evidence” says crewegwyn (no relation).

    Well I’m sure all the people who have lost their jobs, the small businesses that have gone under, the young people who can’t afford tuition fees, the rapidly increasing number of homeless and all who have suffered from Tory (whoops Coalition) spending cuts can provide some evidence for you.

    As can the 700+ ex-Lib. Dem. councillors who have lost their seats over the past two years despite often superb records of service to their local communities.

  • A by-election in County Durham last week saw the LibDems drop from 1st to 3rd place.,with an incredible 35% swing to Labour. Perhaps that would be a good place for Mr Clegg to start his tour.

  • John

    I was quite struck by that too. According to ALDC:
    LD Wendy Bentley 99 (9.0%; -46.5)

    Another recent result was this one, in South Bucks:
    LD Peter Chapman 62 (9.4; -24.0)

    Whatever such results mean, I don’t think they can just be shrugged off.

  • No serious Political Leader would embark on such tour, it makes me cringe just thin king about it, the problem is the Party currently has no political strategy or campaigning leadership and maybe if this was a farewell tour then maybe it would make more sense. Councillor’s and activists I talk to see Nick as an electoral liability. What happened to hope in politics?

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