Nick v Nigel: What the commentators say – and don’t say

Farage cleggWell, there’s a surprise. After last week’s largely positive stories, the headlines aren’t so good this week. It’s interesting to see that those who called for Nick to be more passionate and to go less on the detail weren’t satisfied when he did just that. I wonder if last week’s coverage prompted too much of a strategic rethink to an approach that was working fine. In my opinion, the only thing that needed changing from the LBC debate was a stronger answer on the referendum question, especially as it was bound (and it did) to come closer to the end of the debate.

Dan Hodges has an interesting take in the Telegraph which suggests that there was a split amongst Nick’s advisers as to how to play the debate. These things are difficult to call, so I don’t want to be too hard on them, but in future, please just let Nick be Nick, West Wing style. He didn’t look comfortable with some of the lines he had been given to say – most obviously shown by him fluffing the Party of Putin line.  Hodges said:

It was still an effective and spirited performance from the Lib Dem leader. But it was also a much more controlled and composed performance from Nigel Farage.

I personally think it was right for Clegg to try a fresh approach. And if Twitter was any guide, his passion succeeded in energising his base, which was again his objective. But in truth he is not a tub-thumping politician, and a more sober and analytical style of engagement suits him best.

Nick Clegg is easily the more accomplished political performer, and it was again his debate. But by a narrower margin than seven days ago.

Over at the New Statesman, Rafael Behr said that the pro European arguments had buckled under Farage’s populism:

Clegg’s final declaration of love for liberal, modern Britain will have earned cheers among his party faithful and that is half of his mission accomplished. But to win outright Clegg needed to show that Farage’s entire project runs on pessimism and fear. He needed to expose Ukip’s lack of any positive prescription and to remind people that Farage – public school educated, a former City trader, bankrolled by a handful of millionaires, free-riding on an MEP’s salary and allowances – has no credible claim to be the voice of the dispossessed. But Farage accused Clegg of being part of an “elite club of career politicians” in hock to “big business”. He offered his audience an invitation to  “join the people’s army and topple the Establishment.” And he got away with it. Clegg let him off the hook.

I think he must have not been listening when Nick pointed out that Farage was an established European politician and when he showed the audience a repellently racist UKIP leaflet which Farage just shrugged off. Why did Farage get away with that with no criticism in any of today’s publications that I can find? “I didn’t know” would have been a defence for no other politician.

Well, almost no criticism. Donald MacIntyre in the Independent sees him for what he is, but says the pro European side has to do better.

Nigel “I’m not a career politician” Farage remains in many respects a dangerously logic-free zone. It’s a bit rich, from a party which has been boasting about swallowing up BNP members, to express high-minded fears about “worrying political extremism” in Europe. And his hope that all the other member states of the EU might follow Britain’s example in walking out was, to put it mildly, ambitious. But then Clegg’s own answer to the same question – about what the EU would  be like in 10 years – that it wouldn’t be that different was fairly  lame.

Macintyre was also not alone on commenting that briefing that Nick was going to be more emotional did not add to the authenticity of the moment.

Also at the Telegraph, Tim Stanley drew comparisons with US Presidential debates:

First, it resembled an American presidential contest. Both men talked about their values, their CVs, their party’s manifestos. This highlights the mistake that Miliband and Cameron made in refusing to engage in the discussion. Both Clegg and Farage’s profiles will have been elevated by the contest; they have been allowed to define the terms of the coming Euro elections.

At The Times (£), Ann Treneman said that the two men’s styles merged into each other with non specific exchanges where they mirrored each other’s language. She felt that the honours were divided:

But I think Nick Farage probably did win this one. The Deputy Prime Minister won the first slanging match over who was a Putin-lover. But no doubt, Farage won the last half as he appealed to people to reclaim their country. He was for the little guy, the worker, the people who weren’t Nick.

Owen Spottiswoode did a bit of fact checking on Buzzfeed. The Cleggster came out of it quite well. Nigel, not so much.

And, finally, over at Speaker’s Chair, Ben Mitchell says that Clegg is an asset to our party and we should realise that:

Clegg had the hard part, Farage was given the easy lines. And to be fair, I’m sure Clegg knew this beforehand.

These debates were about the Deputy Prime Minister rising above the bluster, the heavy rhetoric, countering the immigrant bashing hysteria, and the numbers plucked out of the sky.

This was about a Deputy PM behaving as you’d expect a PM’s number two to behave. And to this extent, he passed with flying colours.

Clegg was certainly a lot more confident and polished last week. A little too growly yesterday. When he spoke he did sound at times like the sort of technocrat Farage rails against for a living.

Most importantly, he sounded like he deserved to be where he is right now: Deputy PM and leader of some 57 MPs, yet still able to push through policies that have pleased his supporters.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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49 Comments

  • The trouble with this pro-Europe strategy is that the Greens were breathing down our necks last time as far as local Euro seats go. They too appear largely pro-European (having changed this since last time, I think?), and ‘modern’ on hope-not-hate issues, and are probably stronger on green issues and economic fairness. And they don’t have the disadvantage of Clegg’s toxicity among certain key groups of our past core vote. We saved Andrew Duff in 2009 by (cynically!) belittling the Greens chances in our main election address, but some people won’t be fooled the same way twice. Indeed, I myself am sorely tempted to vote against my own party because of Clegg, though I will probably abstain and hope the left of the party reasserts itself after the GE.

  • Charles Beaumont 3rd Apr '14 - 1:57pm

    “Pro-EU but anti-Clegg” sort of sums up the problem here. Those of us that remain of the view that Nick Clegg is a bright, honest, hard-working, talented, funny and downright decent politician are a tiny minority. Most people have decided that he is a dishonest liar who jumped into bed with the Tories just to get a seat at the top table. However totally unfair that characterisation is, that is the general view from the public. No amount of apologies, phone-ins and brave debates is going to change that.

  • Chris Tatton 3rd Apr '14 - 1:58pm

    Well I am planning on going out for a beer over the weekend to celebrate Nicks 27% poll rating! Hopefully a few fellow Lib Dems will also have celebratory beer too. Well done Nick for having the courage to argue the pro European case, when others are showing so little leadership over the issue. Proud to be a Liberal.

  • 27% when the only other option on the question was ‘Nigel Farage’, Chris Tatton? And you really want to celebrate this ‘leadership’?

    Clegg is driving our party to disaster, through naivity or design, and it is about time some here woke up to the fact!

  • GPPurnell says —
    “…… I myself am sorely tempted to vote against my own party because of Clegg, though I will probably abstain and hope the left of the party reasserts itself after the GE. ”

    On my totally unscientific method of testing opinion in the party (which involves simply taking note of the views of people I am in touch with) GPPurnell’s view is shared by most members of the party.

    We are still in single figures in the opinion polls.
    Who are these people who try to pretend that getting 27% after last night’s fiasco was a victory for Clegg when we know that support for EU membership is almost twice that?
    Were they trained in the Mugabe School of Polling Analysis ?

  • Nick Collins 3rd Apr '14 - 2:21pm

    Today is Farage’s birthday. He must be delighted with his gift from Clegg.

  • Nick Collins 3rd Apr '14 - 2:24pm

    @ GP Purnell & John Tilley.

    Would it be fair to say that Clegg has been INept, or would that be a pun too far?

  • Think he might be a bit PutOUT, Nick!

  • I have a question for people who strongly believe that the UK should remain within and fully participate with the EU.

    Does this include joining the Euro and in due course becoming part of a federal state with the almost total loss of sovereignty? Full integration remains a fundamental aim of the EU. I’m interested in views on this since the MSM and politicians have never discussed this aspect as far as I am aware.

  • Ray Cobbett 3rd Apr '14 - 4:51pm

    Farage ‘s USP is that he is a professional outsider and it works very well with a thoroughly jaded public witnessing the destruction of public services, jobs paying less than a living wage, an out of control housing sector and more. Of course he has no answers other than point to the enemy without. His public bar style works well against Nick’s priggishness .

  • Tony Dawson 3rd Apr '14 - 5:15pm

    @Chris Tatton :

    “Well I am planning on going out for a beer over the weekend to celebrate Nicks 27% poll rating! ”

    Your idea of a ‘poll rating’ is as much of a fantasy as Nick Clegg rightly said much of Farage’s view of the world is. And, as long as people propagate such fantasies, the real position of the party will not improve. The 27 per cent was on this argument alone. It is nothing at all to do with the popularity rating of the leader or the Party.

  • Farage is “the new kind of politics” -straight-speaking, un-PC, and unpolished. Even sweating profusely last week seems to be regarded as a plus point against Clegg’s ‘professional politician’ clean-cut look.

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd Apr '14 - 5:59pm

    Are you really taken in by the Farage, New style of politics, Phyllis.

    Does the new style of politics include welcoming the fact that so many former BNP supporters now find his party their party of choice., or that as leader he was unaware of what appears to me to be a blatantly racist political poster?

    What farage and his ilk like to call non -PC , some of us of a more old fashioned disposition still call rudeness and offensiveness.

    It is so laughable that this public school educated , rich former commodities trader , expenses claiming politician , the ultimate insider can be portrayed as an outsider or underdog. Has the world gone mad?

  • Good write-up Caaron.

  • Graham Evans 3rd Apr '14 - 6:34pm

    Just as Nigel Farage so dislikes the EU that he is prepared to side with anyone or any argument which opposes the EU or denigrates its achievements, presumably on the basis of my enemy’s enemy is my friend, so it seems to me that many people, both in and out of the Party, blindly refuse to acknowledge Nick Clegg’s strengths or in anyway offer him their support. It was once said that the greatest strength of the Tory Party was loyalty to its leader, a principle which has now been abandoned, and we can now see what happens to any party which ignores this lesson.

  • Jayne Mansfield “Are you really taken in by the Farage, New style of politics, Phyllis.”

    Nah, not me. I was taken in the last time by Clegg’s ‘ new politics’ and once is enough. No, I was going by what the people on the Live Analysis after the debate last night were saying. I do worry though that the public are sleepwalking into supporting a party which is so odious.

    This morning David Cameron called both Clegg and Farage ‘two extremes ‘ and sadly that’s how it looks to everyone I know.

  • Graham Evans is upset because a lot of Liberal Democrats — “blindly refuse to acknowledge Nick Clegg’s strengths “.

    Those strengths are presumably Clegg’s ability to reduce the party membership by tens of thousands, his strength in elections losing thousands of council seats, his brilliance in reforming the House of Lords and that blindingly obvious strength shown in the AV Referendum which he won so convincingly, his particular strength in fighting our corner on tuition fees and nuclear power, his wonderful strength of preventing the hated poll tax, and his absolutely fantastic strength of strategy in throwing down the gauntlet to Nigel Farage, what a brilliant strength that was.

    Have You ever thought, Graham Evans that it might be you? Could it be you who is suffering from blind loyalty?

  • Graham Evans 3rd Apr '14 - 8:27pm

    Perhaps John Tilley would also like to list all the things his relentless public criticism has achieved.

  • Michael Meadowcraft yes you are absolutely right.

    I honestly thought Nick would be the stronger performer in these debates.

  • Jayne Mansfiels no I am not a supporter ofNF. I was just pointing out what others were implying on the BBC last night.

  • Graham Evans ” it seems to me that many people, both in and out of the Party, blindly refuse to acknowledge Nick Clegg’s strengths or in anyway offer him their support”

    I was really impressed by Nick Clegg before the 2010 election and I voted Lib Dem. since then I have sadly found a great deal to fault in him. I think his strengths are a very thick skin, enormous resilience and a certain ‘gift of the gab’ .he often comes across as very earnest and also very reasonable on a surface interpretation of what he is saying, especially on Call Clegg. However I cannot support him any longer, based on his actions since May 2010. I feel foolish for having believed in him and the promise of ‘a new type if politics’ and all the people I know who also voted LibDem feel the same way. Yes, all if them, not just the majority. So I think you are mistaken when you use the word ‘blindly’. I think we all have had our eyes opened. I think everything he touches now us doomed to failure because people dislike him so much, both in the Part y and more importantly among the electorate.

    However if you can point out some of his strengths and give us some reasons to support Clegg rather than out of ‘blind loyalty’ to the leader of the Party, thenI would be genuinely interested to hear what they are.

  • Graham Evans 3rd Apr ’14 – 8:27pm

    In answer to your comment which mentioned me, I would simply point out that my “public criticism” of Clegg dates from October of last year. By then Clegg had been leader of the party for over six years. Hardly “relentless” public criticism. If I am guilty of anything , I am guilty of being slow to criticise.

    There are many in the party whose public criticism of Clegg’s failures started much earlier and who have maintained a principled position in the face of blind loyalty to a leader who when it comes down to it is simply not up to the job. I say that after patiently considering the facts over the years that Clegg has been leader. What do you do when presented with the facts? It would appear that you attack the messenger because you do not like the message.
    Continuing to pretend evrything is OK whilst ignoring the facts of Clegg’s repeated failures over seven years of his time as leader will only ensure continuing decline for the party.

  • Graham, I do appreciate what you are saying and actually agree with it . I, too, find it tiresome to read through the ‘I hate Clegg’ comments, some of which seem to come from personal vendettas. Nick is far from perfect (and he would be the first to admit that, I am sure) but at least he gets up and tries to change things rather than sitting on the sidelines slinging mud.

    However, I do feel he could have been stronger in these debates. When he was talking about things the EU has done to improve our lives, such as how it has improved security, it was earnest and compelling, but all too often , he just was not that persuasive. Talking about economics in a debate needs to be framed in a simple and approachable way, but as Michael and David explain better than I can, his speech did not quite achieve this.

    Someone who has worked in Finance, such as myself, will agree will with what he said. Someone who has worked in social welfare, helping the unemployed, will agree with what he said. Someone who has worked in Immigration law, (yes, I have had a varied career life) will agree with what he said. The problem is that these speeches did not really need to talk to me – I am already on board with the EU project. They needed to talk to people like my friends and colleagues, young, progressive minded and EU supporting individuals, who want to see someone representing their values, but feel there is no one to vote for. All too many that I have spoken to simply did not find Clegg compelling, whether they agreed with him in theory or not.

    I also part of the problem is that Nigal, for all his rabble-rousing, is not actually a good debater (as some of his more flippant comments, like his attack on the British car industry show) but Nick seemed almost to be holding back in these debates. I appreciate the need not to get into a mud slinging match with Nigel, but he Nick could still show a bit more of the zest we have seen from him previously.

  • Phyllis “I feel foolish for having believed in him and the promise of ‘a new type if politics’ and all the people I know who also voted LibDem feel the same way. Yes, all if them, not just the majority.”

    Absolutely the same with me. I believed Nick Clegg at the last General Election but never again. The majority of my family and friends voted LibDem, but I don’t know anyone who would again. The really sad part is watching decent, talented LibDem MP”s – who out of misguided loyalty – try to defend him on policies you know they despise. This is just making the whole LibDem leadership extremely unpopular with the voters. Now whoever replaces Clegg will be tarred with the same brush. The man has put the LibDems back 20 years, lets just hope those who can’t face voting for the Tories or Labour don’t end up – out of despair – voting for UKIP.

  • Tony Dawson 4th Apr '14 - 8:19am

    @Michael Meadowcroft :

    “Does no-one with any political nous advise Nick? ”

    I thought that was a ‘given’. The more interesting question is: ‘Why is this?’

  • Caron – The Party of IN / PUTIN just wasn’t a good joke, hardly a joke at all. The problem came with Nick even agreeing to say it!

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 4th Apr '14 - 8:44am

    The ‘debaters’ came across to me in a similar way to Formula One teams – one team with an old name we have long followed on the track and the other a more recent team trying to win some races and climb on the podium. I know little about the abilities of team Farage but what I have heard doesn’t appeal to me as I have become used to supporting team Clegg. I’ve followed team Clegg over recent years and know it is based on an earlier brand with great skills in the factory but has current problems with the on-track tech team. The driver can only do as well as the ‘techs’ have set up the vehicle – he was a good performer in the 2010 season but it appears his driving skills have lacked a well-tuned machine ever since. From my observations of this season’s races – he doesn’t look as if he can get his team working well and do a Lewis Hamilton.

  • Much as I can see the point here, that Clegg should be the focus of this, because it was he who was doing the debating, I think it is the preparation and the advice was wrong (Don’t get me wrong, I have always thought Clegg politically naive and a poor debater, but up against another poor quality debater, with dreadful arguments, even if thise sometimes espoused by the Daily Mail et al). I was, as I said on here, quite confident that Clegg would slaughter him – partly based on almost all the similar debates at a more local level in the past – UKIP usually bring a noisy claque with them to add zest to their useless arguments and try to avoid those defeats. They also bring the zealotry and energy to attack which we also saw from Farage, and we saw one of their key weaknesses with Farage, ie their ability to both make things up, and to extend their arguments beyond any logic. Also their repeating certain lines (as in Farage’s “the political class, and their big business friends….)

    Had we broadened our focus from business, jobs, business, jobs, to the whole issue of why a POLITICAL union, which as others have said, was the real focus of the 1975 referendum, I believe Farage would have been comprehensively beaten.

  • Tony R-W Who are “the tech team” in this case? Advisers? Conference? Other MPs?

  • Phil Rimmer 4th Apr '14 - 9:35am

    I switched off at the point when Clegg resorted to his ‘comfy with modern Britain’ line. As a Liberal I am profoundly uncomfortable with modern Britain, albeit in a very different way from Farage, and Clegg should be as well.

    Clegg managed to make our party look like a bunch of complacent, centrist, technocratic public schoolboys competing in the annual 6th Form debating contest with the school bully. His mask slipped.

    The party needs to rediscover it’s reforming zeal and my conclusion from the debates is that it will only do this without Clegg.

  • I sincerely hope that whoever was advising Nick Clegg on tactics for the second debate plays no part in our 2015 election campaign! The ‘jokes’ and ‘quips’ were toe curling.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 4th Apr '14 - 9:52am

    Tim13
    Exactly. Who is the driver depending on for advice and fine tuning? Certainly not the full factory who have put the principles of the machine together and made the brand well-known and (formerly) respected. The techs are surely the tactical people near the track – how many I don’t know – but they are restricting the driver.

  • The party is over. We are finished, only one very slender hope, change the leader, a new image and strategy.

  • theaks:
    The last chance will be after the european elections, if we go into the general election with Clegg and Alexander as our high profile leaders we will be slaughtered. I say “we” even though I will never vote LibDem again while Clegg is leader, but it’s a hard habit to get out off.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Apr '14 - 10:52am

    Liberal Al

    Graham, I do appreciate what you are saying and actually agree with it . I, too, find it tiresome to read through the ‘I hate Clegg’ comments, some of which seem to come from personal vendettas. Nick is far from perfect (and he would be the first to admit that, I am sure) but at least he gets up and tries to change things rather than sitting on the sidelines slinging mud.

    Sorry, I have been very critical of Nick Clegg throughout, but I have always explained my reasoning, and have always said what I think he ought to have done. So, please don’t insult me by claiming that it’s just unfocussed hatred. As for “sitting on the sidelines slinging mud”, well, he is leader of the party and I’m just an ordinary pleb member who’s given thousands of pounds of my money and thousands of hours of my time to it in my 35 years of membership. I’m not in a position to do what he is in a position to do, so that was a ridiculous comment.

    I am very concerned that my thousands of hours and thousands of pounds are being wasted as this party is being dragged down. So, yes, I AM doing something about it, which is trying to explain why I think we are doing badly and what we can do to change that. A lot of it does come down to the leader. I am not a Leninist, I do not believe in top-down direction of the party, in blind following of the party line, and in the idea that our Dear Leader can never be criticised and can never be wrong. One thing that alarms me is that the liberal model of political party I have always believed in now seems to be forgotten, most people in this country don’t seem to be able to perceive that there could be any other model of political party apart from the Leninist one.

    It is very much part of my liberalism that we should be free to be openly critical of our leadership. Is it not such a common pattern in the world that things go bad because an atmosphere has bee created where no-one dare challenge a leader? Don’t we see this in so many situations?

    I have criticised things Clegg has said and done, and suggested alternatives he could have said and done. Why do you call that “mud-slinging”?

    On remarks about Clegg’s social background, yes, you can say these are unfair because he can’t help his background. I remember when he was first put forward as “naturally the next leader” I was accused of prejudice because I expressed my concern that his background might mean he made mistakes due to lack of connection and experience with life as most people lead it. However, I think we need to be business-like in this. We need a leader who is going to be the best person in all aspects for the job, and if that means we are cautious about taking on someone whose personal background may lead to problems, we should be. It isn’t a personal criticism of this person, it’s simply being practical.

  • Paul in Twickenham 4th Apr '14 - 10:59am

    We are where we are and at this point the Monday Morning Quarterbacking on the debate serves no purpose. I would suggest helping out good candidates by delivering Focus leaflets rather than delivering critique of Mr Clegg’s performance. The time for that is after May 22nd.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Apr '14 - 11:10am

    Charles Beaumont

    Those of us that remain of the view that Nick Clegg is a bright, honest, hard-working, talented, funny and downright decent politician are a tiny minority. Most people have decided that he is a dishonest liar who jumped into bed with the Tories just to get a seat at the top table.

    I don’t think that. I have always been absolutely clear in my position that however much I dislike the coalition, the balance in Parliament meant we had no better alternative. I have never criticised Clegg for not getting more out of the coalition, I have always made clear my belief that however much I dislike its policies (and I do VERY much dislike them), they are about what I would expect from a government that is five-sixths Conservative and one-sixth Liberal Democrat. Those who think Clegg could have got much more really don’t understand the dynamics of coalitions, it really isn’t possible for a small party in a vulnerable electoral coalition to demand much. I always put the blame for our weakness where it lies – with the electoral system that the people of this country backed by two-to-one whose distortion caused it, and not with Clegg.

    I appreciate Clegg is in a difficult position, but much of my criticism of him is of the many ways in which he makes this situation more difficult and so bolsters these unfair attacks on us. One of the problems is this readiness to conflate those who are critical of his leadership with those who make fantasist attacks on the formation of the coalition. That is why I am always careful to distinguish between the two. I find it particularly sad that I can write a dozen comments criticising aspects of Clegg’s leadership, but if after that I write one critical reply to one of those fantasists who seems to assume the Liberal Democrats could have contrived a 100% Liberal Democrat policy government from the May 2010 situation and just chose not to, I find I am attacked as if I only wrote what I wrote because as a Liberal Democrat member I must be a brainwashed loyalist who blindly follows and supports the Dear Leader and his Party Line and is only writing in that way because of that.This is the extent to which the Leninist model of party has sunk into people’s minds. Yet I have recently heard some rather frightening accounts of the extent to which central control of our party and the way it campaigns is growing, and of how anyone who is critical of the Leader and his line gets ostracised and may find it difficult to progress if they want some sort of political career. I myself, of course, have long gone beyond caring about that and have written off any sort of return to a serious political career.

  • @Matthew, that was a very passionate defence, but somewhat unneeded. My comment was not in reference to you, or any one person in particular. It was in relation to the comments, which are uttered by those in and out of this party, that have become board-line parodies in the fact that they often just seem to be more about attacking Clegg than offering any sort of reasonable dialogue on how to improve things – whether they be issues to overcome in our party or wider social problems. I guess my problem actually is that debate on Clegg seems to have become almost partisan and polarised with far too many people, regardless of which side they fall.

    I will also just say, I do actually respect much of what you say. I am sure we do not agree on everything, but I do respect it.

  • Euros May 22, votes counted will it be Sunday 25, anticipate terrible result, leader resigns 27 May, Leadership election result by end of July, just in time for the party conference and a 6 month crash campaign for the General. Like many others who have resigned actual membership, would rejoin for the leadership election and a fresh start. Trouble is , deep down the parliamentary party is “conservative” in its approach, look at the recent Deputy Leader election, hopefully the national membership will be more willing to be a trifle more radical.

  • nvelope2003 4th Apr '14 - 12:51pm

    Clegg did not sound very convincing. Only those who are slavishly loyal seem to have fully supported him. What he said about Putin was either just plain silly or or if he really believed it then he is guilty of poor judgement. Putin is an opportunist who says and does what he thinks people want. He is certainly not a wise ruler but why do we expect Russia to give any ground after the humiliating events of 1989/91 ? The West promised not to push the boundaries of Nato into the former USSR but is trying to do that in the Ukraine. The USSR encouraged Castro’s Cuba but Cuba does not have a land border with the USA or millions of Americans living there. Russia does not have much influence there now as far as we know.

    We should respect its right not to have a Western outpost in Ukraine as long as that country is allowed to develop a fully democratic system and eliminate the corruption that appears to be endemic there. Many people in the former territories of the USSR feel they were better off before they became independent. No doubt Russia will dole out subsidies for the relatively small numbers of Russians living in Crimea and Transdniestria and so tempt Russians in Ukraine to seek closer relations with the mother country but if too many Russians are removed from Ukraine then the remaining population will become hostile to Russia just like removing Scotland from the UK will improve the prospects of the Conservative Party and reduce those of the Liberal Democrats and Labour, hence the lack of enthusiasm for keeping Scotland in from Conservatives..

  • Nick Collins 4th Apr '14 - 1:03pm

    @ Graham Evans: “It was once said that the greatest strength of the Tory Party was loyalty to its leader”. It was also said , at the same time, that the Conservative Party was very efficient, and ruthless, in getting rid of a leader who had, in their perception, ceased to be an asset and become a liability.

    They seemed to lose those strengths with the downfall of Thatcher. Their subsequent civil wars, mainly over different visions of Britain’s future relationship with the EU, were part of the reason why they were in Opposition from 1997 to 2010 and why they are now reliant on Liberal Democrat votes in the House of Commons in order to impose a nasty right-wing agenda on a country which did not vote for it.

  • Nick Collins 4th Apr '14 - 1:34pm

    I meant to add another sentence after “liability”. It’s this: “They would then close ranks around a new leader”.

  • theakes – If you are seen by HQ as having lapsed (it seems to matter not whether you have emailed or put pen to paper and resigned, they take no notice of that!), then you will not have a vote in the Leadership election on that time scale, as you will have to serve your qualifying year as a “new member”.

  • @Matthew Huntbach
    There was an alternative, namely a Conservative minority government. This could have allowed more progressive decisions by government

  • Tim, how democratic are we?

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Apr '14 - 5:34pm

    Voter

    @Matthew Huntbach
    There was an alternative, namely a Conservative minority government. This could have allowed more progressive decisions by government

    I have argued many times why this option would not have worked out well. I don’t wish to repeat those arguments here.

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    I think the journalist John Rentoul deserves a trademark on QTWTAIN (questions to which the answer is no.) I have no objection to self-build for those with t...