Opinion: Making friends with Nick Clegg again…

In 2012 I got the hump with Nick Clegg after a series of, what I thought were, misjudgements by him. I am pleased to say that I have been humpless with Nick for quite a while now. I feel that he is a confident, passionate and (now) sure-footed party leader and DPM.This feeling was cemented by his Sunday speech and Saturday Q&A.With half a dozen other bloggers I interviewed Nick at Portcullis House during the 2007 leadership contest. Despite being a Huhne supporter, I found myself carried away on a helter-skelter ride as Nick went on flights of passion about public services and foreign affairs. I was on the edge of my seat, mesmirised.

I felt some of that same excitement as I listened to Nick’s speech on Sunday.

His explanation of why he loves our country was one of the finest expositions of what it is to be British (or UKish as I insist on saying, to include Northern Ireland and our islands) that I have ever heard.

In a few words he precisely captured the quirky, passionate, tolerant, liberal spirit of our islands.

Seizing a chance opportunity, I buttonholed Nick at York station afterwards and congratulated him on his speech, saying I was “moist eyed” during it.

For once, I wasn’t being ironic.

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

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

19 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Mar '14 - 2:09pm

    Lib Dems should be careful to not be fair-weather friends. Open versus closed politics usually means liberal interventionism in foreign policy too. At the moment I have decided not to be a supporter of Nick Clegg, but true supporters will support him through the hard times too.

  • If he loves this country so much, why has he spent the last four years trying to destroy it?

  • David Allen 10th Mar '14 - 4:14pm

    My eyes are moist too, but not for the same reasons.

  • But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Nick Clegg.

  • I think ‘humpless’ is a great word to describe this

  • I can’t possibly get the hump with Nick Clegg. He is doing a fabulous job communicating our guiding principles so people know precisely what we Lib Dems stand for.

  • Some people are easily impressed by words. Others look at deeds like down 5MPs; down over 2,000 councillors; down 23,000 members; down to 4 MEPs (if we are lucky). If you are so mesmerised by the words, just look at the failure.

    P.S. Don’t get so mesmirised, you’ll forget how to spell mesmerised.

  • Peter Chegwyn 11th Mar '14 - 5:12am

    Theresa-1 “I can’t possibly get the hump with Nick Clegg. He is doing a fabulous job communicating our guiding principles so people know precisely what we Lib Dems stand for.”

    So if Nick is doing such “a fabulous job” why are we on 8 % in the polls and trailing 4th behind UKIP?

  • Peter Chegwyn sums up what is wrong with the post conference fantasy.

    The reality is that Clegg is the most unpopular Liberal democrat leader since the party began.
    Six long years since he became Leader and he is poison with the voters.
    IpsosMori polling of his leadership ratings —
    http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/88/Political-Monitor-Satisfaction-Ratings-1997Present.aspx?view=wide

  • Bill le Breton 11th Mar '14 - 8:43am

    If I am not mistaken, Chris ,above at 5.59 yesterday, is quoting from the final paragraph of Orwell’s 1984 – I used it to express a personal reaction to the 2012 September conference here http://www.liberator.org.uk/article.asp?id=259004230

    1984 is something we should all turn to when exposed to political rhetoric on the grand scale. Playing the patriotism card is – lest we forget – the last refuge of the … desperate.

  • @ John Tilley

    Who’s your rival candidate for leadership then, considering how appallingly Clegg has performed in your eyes?

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Mar '14 - 10:50am

    RC

    Who’s your rival candidate for leadership then, considering how appallingly Clegg has performed in your eyes?

    RC, you KEEP asking this question, but please go and consider what
    Caron Lindsay wrote here .

    Unfortunately, as soon as someone is named as a possible rival, the media do all they can using their usual lurid language to trivialise the issue, with the person named immediately written up as if that person’s entire attention is devoted to “backstabbing” the leader, and as if the party has given up serious thought and is instead engaged in a battle of personalities. This is intensely embarrassing to the person so-named, who may well be a good choice for leader but is unlikely to be wanting to mount a personal challenge, and whose career then gets damaged because the lurid media coverage leads to that person being accused of being divisive.

    It would be nice if this country had a proper understanding of democracy, which would mean regular changes of leader would be regarded as nothing remarkable, and it would be considered no great shame for one to be replaced by another. To me, it is a vital aspect of liberalism that leaders should be the servants of those they lead, not the masters, I long for a political atmosphere in which this is understood. We aren’t there yet. Actually, very sadly, we’re heading away from there, with this continual way the party is portrayed, and its leadership encourages it to be portrayed, as if it is the personal tool of The Leader.

  • I feel Nick Clegg has a number of weaknesses as a leader (and some strengths). He has a sense of strategy and can think long about big issues, which is a substantial plus. His interpretation of Liberalism contains elements I passionately reject, such as the notion that being in the centre or middle ground is somehow right in itself and part of the fundamental character of our party (as opposed to somewhere we happen to be in on some key issues), the ignoring or rejection of equality of outcome in favour of an impossible-to-define equality of opportunity, his love of the word “meritocracy” and his promotion of “helping people get on in life” as an expression of the basic nature of Liberalism rather than just a useful slogan. Nonetheless, he’s a Liberal and a Liberal Democrat, and he has shown a certain resilience and ability to learn from his mistakes.

    His closing speech at York was the best I’ve heard from him and I think that’s worth celebrating.

  • Nick Collins 11th Mar '14 - 2:19pm

    “Friends of Nick Clegg” need to confront two problems.

    The first is that few people now take any notice of anything he says. His speech on Sunday has received mostly favourable reviews on this site. In the rest of the media it has barely been mentioned.

    The second is that many of those who do take notice no longer trust him. You may think that’s unfair, but it’s a problem which you need to recognise.

  • @JohnTilley “The reality is that Clegg is the most unpopular Liberal democrat leader since the party began. Six long years since he became Leader and he is poison with the voters”.

    Wow! That’s a bit strong but I still think Nick is doing a fabulous job communicating our guiding principles so people know precisely what we Lib Dems stand for.

  • @ Matthew Huntbach

    I KEEP asking this question because there’s never any answer. And I’m going to carry on asking it.

    There’s never any answer because those who wilfully slate Nick Clegg as our leader(in doing so helping our opponents) never actually have any serious ideas about who is such a strong candidate that they can achieve all the things they say Clegg should have done but hasn’t. They never explain how all the obstacles Nick Clegg faces would suddenly melt away and how the new leader would be met with unanimous acclaim, while the party doubles its polling ratings.

    I would love to hear some convincing, coherent arguments about how Vince Cable/Tim Farron/ Ed Davey could wave a wand and make everything better. But I’m not holding my breath.

  • How about Alistair Carmichael for leader?

    There is a scenario that if Scotland goes independent then Orkney and Shetland will go independent of the mainland. If the newly independent Orkney and Shetland then chose to join the UK again we would still have most of the oil and gas fields, and would have got shot of Alex Salmond and his crazy ideas.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Mar '14 - 10:19pm

    RC

    There’s never any answer because those who wilfully slate Nick Clegg as our leader(in doing so helping our opponents) never actually have any serious ideas about who is such a strong candidate that they can achieve all the things they say Clegg should have done but hasn’t.

    I have always spelt out specifically where I think Clegg has gone wrong and what he should have done instead.

    They never explain how all the obstacles Nick Clegg faces would suddenly melt away and how the new leader would be met with unanimous acclaim, while the party doubles its polling ratings.

    I have never said that a new leader of the party would get universal acclaim or that the party under a new leader would double its ratings. I have just pointed out various things where I think Clegg has got it wrong. At the core I think his biggest mistake was to exaggerate what it was possible to do as very much the junior partner in the coalition, and so inevitably lead people to feel disappointed and feel he wasn’t telling the truth or underneath he’s just a Tory, because the reality is that this is a largely Tory government. Why won’t you let me say this? What sort of liberal are you that you deny free speech, that you believe constructive criticism of the leaders and alternative suggestions as to what he should have done can never be made? What sort of liberal are you that you seem to believe that uncritical adulation is the only attitude a party could possibly have of its leader?

    I would love to hear some convincing, coherent arguments about how Vince Cable/Tim Farron/ Ed Davey could wave a wand and make everything better. But I’m not holding my breath.

    I have already pointed out the comments made by Caron Lindsay where she noted how damaging it is when someone is singled out as “the leadership challenger”. Perhaps instead of repeating your usual line, you could have engaged with what Caron was saying there.

    By the way, I despise Tim Farron, as the man behind the “75% of our manifesto implemented line”, who has never once apologised for pushing it, but has quietly dropped it once even its authors admitted it was a silly estimate, he’s a disaster, even less competent than Clegg. I suspect he’s being pushed as “the candidate of the left” because the right knows he’s no real leftist, but want him to overshadow those who could put a proper and coherent liberal left line.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarTristan Ward 21st Oct - 6:00pm
    This afternoon I was at a Turning Remainers into Campaigners event, for those of all parties and none, but inevitably with much Lib Dem support....
  • User AvatarChristopher Haigh 21st Oct - 5:32pm
    @frankie, yes it will be the government centralising 'brexiteers' who will probably be the least able to cope with their own brexit.
  • User AvatarTony Dawson 21st Oct - 4:31pm
    I would just like to thank Paul for this insightful series. It is a shame that not may Americans will get to see it -...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 21st Oct - 4:24pm
    What day was this on? I have looked on Daily politics iplayer bit for the week on the schedules but no info on when he...
  • User AvatarGlenn 21st Oct - 3:48pm
    . Nationalism is more tied to the belief in the nation state and self governance , so can be aligned with breaking from empires. colonial...
  • User Avatarexpats 21st Oct - 3:35pm
    Palehorse 21st Oct '17 - 11:28am.....Much criticism of those who sacrificed so much in 1914-1918. It must depend, I suppose, on whether you think Germany’s...