Nick Clegg to move to 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, California

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The Guardian reports:

Facebook has hired Sir Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister, as its head of global policy and communications.

Clegg, 51, will join Facebook as it struggles to cope with mounting political pressure over issues including fake news, data protection and the threat of government regulation.

The former head of the Liberal Democrats will move to Silicon Valley in January.

While the appointment of Clegg to a top role at a Silicon Valley giant may come as a surprise, rumours had been circulating for weeks that the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was close to appointing a top former British politician.

Nick Clegg has written an article in the Guardian himself, saying that he is joining Facebook to “build bridges between politics and tech”:

…as vice-president of global affairs and communications at Facebook, I hope to help it navigate the numerous challenges it faces, in common with other leading tech companies, as the data-driven technological revolution continues to affect every aspect of our everyday lives: the control we have over our personal data; the integrity of our democratic process; the power and concerns about artificial intelligence; the tension between the global internet and national jurisdictions; the balance between free speech and prohibited content; and the wellbeing of our children.

Please form an orderly queue for comments on this post…. 😉

* News Meerkat - keeping a look-out for Liberal Democrat news. Meerkat photo by Adair Broughton

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52 Comments

  • Andy Briggs 19th Oct '18 - 6:04pm

    What a fantastic opportunity, congratulations Nick Clegg. Hope it goes well for him, although I will miss his wise contributions to the British political debate!

  • Meral Hussein-Ece 19th Oct '18 - 6:16pm

    Nick is a private citizen and he can do exactly what he wants. So much online faux outrage about this.

  • I hope he is as successful at Facebook as he was as leader of the Liberal Democrats. Now time to move on and help to repair the damage he did.

  • Call it faux outrage if you like, but I hate facebook and everything it stands for with a passion, so it’s a shock to see a former leader of a liberal party join them as vice president.

    Still, he’s an ex-politician in need of a job, and I’m sure it’s a very well paid gig. Certainly no worse than Tony Blair raking it in from various despots around the world.

  • I guess we should be pleased that at least one LibDem has emerged from the coalition experience with their career prospects enhanced.

  • OnceALibDem 19th Oct '18 - 7:01pm

    “its head of global policy and communications.”

    Odd they should appoint someone with no prior experience in business or communications.

  • I bet many of the people outraged by this news have Facebook accounts themselves!

  • Sean Hyland 19th Oct '18 - 7:32pm

    Don’t have Facebook and not a particular fan of Nick Clegg but it’s his life. Would guess it’s less for his business and communication skills and more to do with his political contacts and knowledge particularly within the EU.

  • David Becket 19th Oct '18 - 8:13pm

    Nick has many talents and abilities, but PR is not one of them. His failure to understand the PR issues surrounding the Rose Garden, Student Fees and support for NHS reform did for us. Let us hope it goes well for him, he is out of our hair. We now need to find an appropriate leader for our party, which will not be easy.

  • OnceALibDem 19th Oct '18 - 9:01pm

    He replaces Elliot Schrage who was a former lawyer, professor at a business school and former senior VP at Gap for Global communications.

    In other words a business and communications background.

    Why then are they replacing him with someone with no such background – unless he brings other things ‘to the table?

    BBC reports:
    “Sir Nick says he has sought and received assurances about the centrality of his role at the company. “I said to them, if you’re prepared to let me into the inner circle, in the black box, and give me real authority, then I’m interested.”
    I think people will be able to fill in the blanks.

    And yes Meral he is a private citizen who can do what he wants. But the Danny’s and Nicks built themselves quite a career on the hard work of others who then paid the price for their poor judgement and decision make with their own careers. Meanwhile they get Knighthoods (a fair call in Nick’s case, in no way justifiable for Danny) and some nice sinecures.

  • Robin,
    Depends on what you achieve with the power and the cost. Well we achieved little and the cost was a majority Tory government, who ramped up austerity and brought us Brexit. So no I don’t think the blind rush for power was worth it.

  • “Nick Clegg took us into Government after decades in the wilderness.”

    He didn’t. He accidentally arrived in government because of a weird confluence of events. And influenced less political change than Paddy did in the 97-01 Labour government with his main achievement being to cut taxes at the expense of underfunding the NHS.

  • One year into the coalition and it was obvious to any unbiassed observer that it was going to be a massive débacle for the Liberal Democrats—entirely in line with the fate the Liberals had suffered in their coalitions with the Tories in years past. Unfortunately the number of Lib Dems with a nodding acquaintance with history was (and is) extremely small and, as such, we were doomed to repeat it: though not less tragically than before. Virtually no permanent legislation of any importance to the Lib Dems was passed during the coalition. That was the time for us to depart the coalition and either attempt to join a government with Labour and the SNP, or face new elections with courage. Mr Clegg took neither course, but simply ploughed ahead with bland and increasingly delusional pronouncements on how well we were doing. The end result was the Party losing all but eight MPs, a Tory majority, and Brexit.

    It is, perhaps, unsurprising that the Party should not take full responsibility for this débacle. It is quite astonishing, however, to hear the platitudes of early 2010s being restated as if 2015 had never happened and as if we had not seen with our own eyes how false and hollow they were.

  • Nick Clegg “took us into Government” not because of anything he did, but because he had the good luck to be in a position to do so following an inconclusive election result. If the 2005 election had resulted in a hung parliament, it would have been Charles Kennedy who “took us into Government after decades in the wilderness”.

  • Huw Dawson : Nick Clegg isn’t in active politics anymore. He is a private citizen. So what he does now is not likely to be of much interest to the average voter.

  • Nick Clegg did take the Lib Dems into government. There is nothing in the British electoral system that compels the formation of a coalition. It was not the result of an accident of electoral arithmetic. The Coalition was a conscious choice resulting from a hung parliament.. Other choices included confidence and supply or no cooperation at all.

  • The appointment by Facebook of Nick Clegg gives two important and positive messages:
    – US Tech companies see Europe as the global leader in data privacy.
    – Facebook is taking these data privacy issues seriously (otherwise, they would have recruited a ‘corporate’ person who would toe the company line uncritically).
    Hopefully, this will bring to an end Nick’s unenviable position as ‘whipping boy’ for the failings of a Tory-led Government (see some of the comments above). I wish him well.

  • The day after the 2010 election my partner set up a Facebook page “Don’t do it Nick”. My email to the Federal Executive outlining what I thought would be the consequences of us going into the Coalition with the Tories was spot on in every detail. She remains an enthusiastic supporter of Nick; I don’t.

  • William Fowler 20th Oct '18 - 8:22am

    Nick Clegg almost had a major breakthrough for the Liberals back in 2010 and did a reasonable job in coalition. Ironically, he did not foresee the rage that went through social media when he did not stand up for tuition fees abolition, nor the effort Labour would put into unseating him in the last election when he was visibly enraged (in a muted Liberal kind of way) to be beaten by a callow youth. His contacts in the EU will be a major plus for Facebook and given the ruined state of Sterling being paid in USA dollars has to be a huge attraction (if we end up with easier visas to the USA after Brexit there will be a huge movement of intelligent, skilled people in that direction.

  • Alex Macfie 20th Oct '18 - 8:30am

    Glenn: Technically, yes, but do you honestly think that any other Lib Dem leader would have chosen other than to go into coalition after the 2010 result? I don’t. The only question is whether they would have done better for the party in coalition, to which my answer is “yes” for almost any other hypothetical Lib Dem leader.

  • Robert (Somerset) 20th Oct '18 - 9:59am

    I am not on Facebook and have no intention of joining it. I still rate Nick Clegg and given the circumstances at the time I would still support the coalition even though my predictions of the likely consequences for us as a party came true.

    Let’s give Nick Clegg a chance before piling in on him. Facebook as other social media outfits will not be going away but it does, somehow, need to be moulded into a more responsible member of the world community. Let’s see what Nick Clegg has achieved in that direction in a couple of years time. We might be pleasantly surprised.

  • Of all the recently-departed-frontline-politics figures in UK politics Nick is probably the one you’d most want in a position like that. Have a quick mental check through the others…

  • Bill le Breton 20th Oct '18 - 10:11am

    I find Nick Clegg fascinating. Here is one aspect of his behaviour which I think lands him in trouble and, as an extremely persuasive individual, lands followers and potentially employers in big trouble.

    Last week he gave an interview with Peston in which he reported on conversations he had had across Europe with high ranking and influential people who had assured him that they (and the EU) are ready to move on restricting Freedom of Movement. He told Peston this applied ‘not just to the UK but to all EU states, in effect an emergency brake, for exceptional circumstances’ The implication being that if GB were to stay in the EU there would follow changes to FOM policy.

    Commentators were quick to point out with survey info that FOM within EU28 is not seen as a problem among the 27 only in GB (though they are concerned with immigration from outside the EU). He is not telling prkies but he is ‘conflating’ issues to advantage his arguments. He hears what he wants to hear.

    This is a very familiar trope. It runs thus: Clegg has access to information that others don’t. That info is never confirmed by evidence or in the public arena. It is you see ‘magic’ info revealed only to him. It is irrefutable. You will recall other examples of this.

    And you will see that in the FaceBook case he tells us that he has had long and detail conversations with the top two at FB including Mark Z and they have assured him that he will have access to ‘the black box’ (his words) where strategic decisions are made – as usual he is reporting high level confidential info and secrets that you have to take his word for; private conversations reported by one side of the conversations (him).

    So here’s the conclusion; NC habitually and knowingly over-sells concessions to support his preferred plan of action, which actually might not be on offer.

    The most dramatic example of this were his private conversations with David Cameron, which he sold first to the Parliamentary Party and then to the wider Party. The concession never materialise.

    If I were FaceBook I would be worried about this. Especially if his job is to go around the world gaining info which is then brought back to the ‘black box’ and which has a fundamental impact on company strategy – as the Lib Dems learnt to their cost.

  • Richard Easter 20th Oct '18 - 11:33am

    Nick Clegg remains a very divisive figure within the party – and even now when he has no role in it anymore, let alone the country.

    I suspect the public will just view it as “unpopular political figure gets top paying corporate job” – and the worst thing is that Nick’s “I believe the way things are is not the way things have to be”, sadly rings hollow.

    Orange Book values are over – and this is the logical conclusion – top corporate jobs for those at the head of the trough. Time to return to traditional centre left values.

  • Peter Watson 20th Oct '18 - 11:40am

    @Paul Walter “I suspect he will get his money to put a gloss of morality on what will continue to be a highly questionable enterprise.”
    Does he have any prior experience of that?
    😉

  • Daniel Carr 20th Oct '18 - 1:45pm

    Best of luck to him. I can’t imagine it’s been much fun having to ‘do politics’ from the sidelines, and I can’t really see him taking (or attempting to take) a frontline political role again. He’s still young and I’m glad his talents will get put to use elsewhere.

  • Laurence Cox 20th Oct '18 - 2:41pm
  • paul holmes 20th Oct '18 - 6:24pm

    @Daniel Carr. I hadn’t realised that the purpose of being involved in Politics was to ‘have fun’ and then to move on to more lucrative roles. Clearly where I made my mistake over the last 35 years.

    I do agree with you however about ‘his talents being put to use elsewhere.’ Given previous experience Facebook should face a massive slump and all but cease trading within the next 5 -10 years!

  • John Marriott 20th Oct '18 - 7:31pm

    ‘California Dreaming’? How will it be in ten years’ time, Nick, about the same?

  • Richard Underhill 20th Oct '18 - 9:31pm

    The key to Facebook was to overturn privacy by persuading people to give it away.
    At university Facebook’s founder was punished for what he was doing.
    This job will be difficult, but he is a family man.
    He has learned Spanish and may also be rooted in values from the headmaster at Westminster, but it must be tempting for Facebook to use him selling Facebook to Hispanics resident in the Americas. There may be an Hispanic President one day.

  • “Facebook is taking these data privacy issues seriously (otherwise, they would have recruited a ‘corporate’ person who would toe the company line uncritically).”

    Or appointed someone with a background in the relevant area of law and how it is and will be applied and understands the risks (to the company) of compliance and non-compliance. Those are lawyer skills not politician skills. Nothing in Nick’s background suggests he has much knowledge about data protection, indeed the passage of GDPR completely post-dates Nick being an MEP.

  • Alex
    There is nothing technical about it. Whether or not other leaders would have done the same doesn’t alter the reality that Mr Clegg was the one who did take the Lib Dems into government or that there is nothing in the British political system that automatically results in a coalition. A coalition is a choice, one option, not an accident. This is why the DUP have a confidence and supply agreement. Ironically.

  • Alex Macfie 21st Oct '18 - 5:43pm

    Glenn: But a coalition is only possible in the event of a hung parliament. So previous Lib Dem leaders had no opportunity to take the party into government because the elections they fought led to majority governments. The hung parliament was an accident, because the Lib Dems had no control over the relative strengths of the two big parties, so could not ensure a hung parliament. So the point is that there nothing special about Clegg having brought the Lib Dems into government. He was the first leader in generations to have the opportunity to do so. Incidentally, as 2010 resulted in a net loss of seats for the Lib Dems, had it not been for the lucky accident of a hung parliament, enabling him to bring the party into government, his leadership would have been under serious scrutiny. We should not have lost seats to Labour in that election.

    But with all that said, I agree with Meral Ece: “Nick is a private citizen and he can do exactly what he wants.” And as he will no longer play any part in UK politics, what he does will be of little interest to UK political pundits, and will have practically no effect on the Lib Dems going forward.

  • Tony Greaves 21st Oct '18 - 7:24pm

    My complaint about Clegg is not that we went into Coalition but that as our Leader he was not very good at it. Perhaps enemies of Facebook who wish for its demise should be rejoicing at the fact that Clegg will (it seems) have leading responsibilities there.

  • I understand Facebook made 1.3 billion pounds profit in the UK last year and paid just over 15 million pounds in tax.

    I remember Mr Clegg making many promises about large corporations and tax evasion when he was in government. It will be interesting to see if he is more successful in delivering this now he is going to be on the other side of the fence/pond.

    Meanwhile it is admitted that the typical recipients of Universal Credit are losing on average Fifty pounds per week.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Oct '18 - 2:08am

    I think, other perhaps than language and communication, the skills of Nick Clegg and others in professional or career politics are often overrated or underrated accordingly.

    Nick is now overrated by many in our party. Excellent skills other than these are found wanting , if compared to the sorts needed , many he does not reveal. Although I like him in person or in politics in general, as a likeable able sort, who had the potential to be a real leading man, but became the sidekick.

    One is standing up against and for. Against that which is wrong. For that which is not.

    Great that he did both. Not good that he did neither very much.

    I agree with David Raw . I am not opposed to Facebook, it is over criticised by people who could just not use it and thus not share data and leave those who do not mind dig it to slug it out.

    But the lack of desire to be different on tax and lead the way in this greedy society and economy the world sees to much, is very bad.

    If a multi million salary cannot do something about it, or if he does not, I don’t agree with Nick.

  • The real issue with facebook is that is it is now a (essentially) a monopoly and should be broken up. The situation is a bit like if there was only one bank and everyone had to be a member of that bank to get paid or pay someone else. You should be able to have a social media account that you can connect with social media accounts of other providers just as with banks.

    Certainly it should be mad to sell whatsapp and instagram to provide more competition.

  • David Evans 22nd Oct '18 - 2:00pm

    Russell – however you describe yourselves. Indeed you are allowed to deduct costs/expenses. It is how those deductions are allowed to move money between different subsidiaries and across national boundaries that allows too many companies to magic profits away form their fair share of tax.

  • Richard Underhill 22nd Oct '18 - 2:36pm

    “David Becket: We now need to find an appropriate leader for our party,”
    We have a leader and a deputy leader.

  • @David Evans. You may think some expenses shouldn’t be allowable for tax. I say don’t call revenue profit.

  • John Barrett 23rd Oct '18 - 2:52pm

    Is Nick Clegg still a party member?

    If so, the membership department should contact him immediately to ask him to review his direct debit payment. It will be very good for the party’s income, even if he gives only a few percent of his massive salary, to help repair some of the damage done on his watch.

    If not, as a highly paid lobbyist for a company that does not share many of our core commitments and values, it would then be better for the party if he has left.

    Either way, he will always be associated with our party and his future statements will probably get a level of press and media coverage that our present and future leaders will probably struggle to achieve.

  • David Evans 23rd Oct '18 - 3:35pm

    Russell as an accountant I absolutely think that valid expenses should be allowable for tax. It is the abuse of those allowances to magic away profits to tax havens that is the problem. That is what I said and I presume you agree with that, unless you tell us otherwise.

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