LibLink: Prateek Buch on Nick Clegg’s speech today

Double Clegg 2 - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsOn Comment is Free, Social Liberal Forum director, Prateek Buch provides an interesting critique of Nick Clegg’s speech today:

At least Clegg recognises that Liberal Democrats have to stand up for what we truly believe in. The recent direction of travel on Leveson, drugs reform and snooping is welcome, and we await more robust promotion of party policy on things that really matter to most people – a fair, sustainable economy where living standards rise for the many not just for the few. Only then will this journey to the centre ground be what it should be – a political movement that renews what it means for citizens to be truly free, instead of a triangulation between two tried, tested and failed ideologies.

You can read Prateek’s full article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is a councillor and one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Prateek’s analysis is streets ahead of the tires old record being pumped by Richaed Reeves:

    “Clegg and the wiser heads among his parliamentary colleagues knew there would be a price to pay. ”

    Where is the evidence that Nick Clegg (or anyone else) gave early warning of the loss of a thousand councillors? Richard Reeves would not recognise a ‘wiser head’ whether inside the Parliamentary Party or anywhere else. Which is one of the reasons we are where we are.

  • Cllr. Ron Beadle 17th Dec '12 - 10:31pm

    The direction in which Nick has taken the party is neatly summed up in the slogan he stood behind today: ‘Strong Economy, Fair Society’. It is precisely the wrong way round. The slogan should be: ‘Fair Economy. Strong Society’.

  • Stephen Donnelly 17th Dec '12 - 11:10pm

    @Cllr. Ron Beadle. I am not sure that I am comfortable with your ‘strong society’. Do you mean something like Singapore ?

  • Bill le Breton 18th Dec '12 - 6:10am

    A powerful, important and devastating critique of a hastily devised, convened and unwise speech. A must read this Christmas.

  • While I am supportive of a good proportion of the individual policies/policy objectives set out in Clegg’s speech, I am not at all enamoured of the “centre ground” phraseology that he uses in it. If we do have to locate ourselves in relation to the other two major parties, Paddy Ashdown’s rather wiser formulation of our position (as I remember it) was that we are not to the right or left of Conservative or Labour but AHEAD of them.

  • David Allen 18th Dec '12 - 1:20pm

    I have previously argued that we should not immediately replace Clegg, because of the difficulties that would be faced by any new leader in taking over now. However, I am beginning to think that I got that wrong.

    The problem is that Clegg is now leading our necessary journey back “to the centre ground”, no doubt under pressure from the Party as a whole. But he is doing it very badly. He is thereby lousing up the opportunity for someone else to do it more effectively.

    Everybody told him he had to apologise over tuition fees. So, far too late, he did. He did it grudgingly, accompanied with a riff of “but it was justified really”, and with a faux humility which merely invited the lampoon. One opportunity wasted.

    Now he is tacking back toward the centre. When Clegg truly holds strong liberal views, over Leveson and drugs for example, he carries the confidence of his own convictions and can speak inspiringly. But on the bread and butter issues it is conflicted, three steps forward and two steps back stuff. It includes a painstaking attempt to differentiate between what the economy forced on us, what the Tories forced on us, and what we might quietly have wanted to do all along but were too scared to admit to wanting. It is an unwilling piece of political manoeuvering and will be seen by the public as such.

    If we want to do this properly, we need a new leader to do it.

  • Helen Tedcastle 18th Dec '12 - 7:01pm

    Prateek Buch is absolutely right in his analysis. Unfortunately, we’re in the state we’re in because Clegg allowed the Tories far too much leeway in the first two years, in his pursuit of a ‘coalitions do work, – honest’ pitch to the electorate.

    The Party and the country is paying the price of early cock ups.

    Education, as I have written before, is another major disaster area (among others where the Tories have forced change outside of the coalition agreement).

    Clegg was warned two years ago about Gove and his right-wing, ‘back to the 1950s’ agenda for our children – oh dear, he ignored members of his own Party…

  • My own feeling is that Clegg is a product of his background, and really believes the Tory guff on education and health. These weren’t mistakes caused by haplesss advisors; he hired those advisors because their views chimed with his own. The sooner we get a new leader who understands how most voters feel about these issues, the better.

  • Simon Hebditch 20th Dec '12 - 12:32pm

    Prateek’s analysis is excellent and it reminds me that there is a job of work to be done seeing if the SLF document, Plan C, on economic policy and strategy and the Compass Plan B document can be compared and synergies identified.. This work would at least give us an idea as to whether an alternative coalition agreement would be possible between the Lib Dems and Labour. It is a pity, of course, that the Lib Dem leadership has already made the political assumption that it would prefer to continue in an alliance with the Tories until 2020!

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Dec '12 - 10:22pm

    Simon Hebditch

    Prateek’s analysis is excellent and it reminds me that there is a job of work to be done seeing if the SLF document, Plan C, on economic policy and strategy and the Compass Plan B document can be compared and synergies identified.. This work would at least give us an idea as to whether an alternative coalition agreement would be possible between the Lib Dems and Labour.

    Of course an alternative coalition agreement between the LibDems and Labour is possible. To suggest it is not is to agree with the right-wing infiltrators in our party who are trying to make out the current coalition was chosen as a matter of political closeness rather than forced on us by the situation in May 2010.

    If it happens to be the case after the next general election that the number of Labour, Conservative and LibDem MPs are such that Labour+LibDem is over half and Conservative+LibDem is under half, then we will have to form a coalition with Labour, just as in May 2010 we had to form a coalition with the Conservatives. It is not a matter of having to work out if it is possible, if it is the only stable government that the balance in Parliament allows it will have to be possible.

    I think it very unlikely that after the next general election we will be in the position of being able to choose a coalition partner. It would be a disaster to stay in with the Tories, as we would then find it almost impossible to maintain an independent image, so I really hope we don’t end up with a May 2010 situation again.

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