Our next leader must condemn Nick Clegg


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Nick Clegg is one of our most well-known figures. But he has abandoned our principles, and we must now condemn him for it.

Splashed across the news are stories of Facebook defying a boycott aimed at getting them to tighten up on hate speech and information on their platform. And just behind Zuckerberg is our former leader, massaging the facts and spreading his own misinformation in an attempt to ameliorate his boss’s critics.

“Facebook does not profit from hate”, he says. This is an obvious lie – Facebook profits from advertising, and so profits from every piece of content and every interaction with the platform. To have hate on Facebook is to profit from hate on Facebook.

He goes on to say that “We can’t eliminate all hate speech”. This is misdirection – nobody is asking the platform to do this. The boycott is demanding that Facebook makes it harder to promote hate on their platform – and other social media platforms are taking this head-on, instead of attacking the boycott itself.

Of course, his boss has no such qualms. Mark Zuckerberg says that you should “allow as wide an aperture of expression as possible across the internet” – which, in the context of this boycott, means giving space for hate. Mark seemingly baulks at the advertisers’ demands for Accountability, Decency and Support. This is a list of demands that could have been written and passed as our own policy (it clearly demonstrates our values), but yet Mark sees it more fitting to stare down these demands – and cleaning up after him, our old leader.

We’ve been here before – Nick’s disastrous handling of the Coalition (Rose Garden with the Tories, anyone?) has led us to our current quagmire, eviscerating our party to such an extent that we’ve struggled to function since. At that time, people felt sorry for him – a victim of his own optimism, maybe, or of naivety. I suspect now we’re seeing the cold reality.

Regardless: when you are part of an organisation being boycotted until they take down content on White Supremacy, Antisemitism and Holocaust denial, and you fight back against it? You aren’t on our side. Facebook does not simply reflect hatred in our communities – it amplifies it, and gives it a platform to be nurtured and to grow. The old libertarian ideals of the early internet still infect the veins and arteries of the system, and provide ample growth media for fascists and nazis, fuelling the emboldened strides of people that would see us less free.

We must be intolerant of intolerance, and if Nick Clegg still cared about our values then he would not be where he is, and he would not be doing what he is.

Condemn this man.

* James Belchamber is Chair of South West Birmingham Liberal Democrats and runs the Lib Dem Digital forum.

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84 Comments

  • I agree, with a heavy heart.

    I still remember watching this scruffy but charming bloke wiping the floor with other ‘liberals’ (Cathy Ashton and, er, Theresa May!) at a Liberty event about 15 years ago or so and thinking ‘this is a politician I could get behind‘.

    Amazing judge of character, me.

  • Absolutely and the coalition as well.
    Never again.

  • Barry Lofty 6th Jul '20 - 11:21am

    I have no time for Facebook or any of the other such sites, but I suppose as I am a person of a certain age you might expect that, but the continued criticism of the coalition and putting the blame for the present state of the party on that period rather baffles me, if making mistakes while having some power was the reason for the party’s decline I wonder why the Tories are almost in continual power and goodness knows what will happen at the next election with the record of this present bunch is anything to go by, but I won’t hold my breath. Can’t we just ,”move on” as a certain politician is fond of saying?

  • I much prefer that we develop an approach that deals with the power of the companies that have become so powerful in the world – companies that take are experts in avoiding taxes in the countries where they make their money. This would have of course been much easier as members of the European Union.
    My feeling at the time of the party conference in Birmingham was that things were being stage managed in an unacceptable manner. The report into the last election shows that governance in the party has not improved. We should focus on that rather than on things that we cannot change. It is not about individuals it is about the organisations they are in, and the organisation we are in.
    Let us put our own house in order. That is our first responsibility.

  • Steve Griffiths 6th Jul '20 - 11:28am

    I agree too, but not with a heavy heart. At the time of the Clegg/Huhne leadership election run-off I abstained, having seen through the pair of them.

  • Linda Dickins 6th Jul '20 - 11:38am

    If the Lib Dems turn on each other we are sunk. Let’s concentrate on the real issues.

  • Christine Whelan 6th Jul '20 - 11:58am

    Let’s concentrate on the real issues that we face. Nick has gone now and we need to get back to basics on our messages to the public. We are too complex in our policies and our messages. We over estimate the public in their understanding of our policies. Most people are not interested in politics. What they need is to understand how it affects them as a person. This is something we do not ‘get across’ in our messages and policies. People do not want a long documentation on what we stand for, they want short sharp and to the point messages they can relate to.

  • No let’s not condemn him and let’s stop this culture of condemning anyone with whom we disagree.

    The best way to defeat extremism is through open debate and discussion not through censorship. A liberal starting point should be that we generally trust people to hear the arguments and see through the nonsense arguments put forward by extremists. Attempts to bury the can help these movements to gather momentum. Strenuous efforts need to be made to ensure that extreme views are countered but not censored.

    There are exceptions where hate speech does need to be censored but this should be for something that goes beyond the mere expressing of an opinion online for example incitement to violence (which requires a high hurdle to be crossed).

    The reality of social media is that it is awash with virtue signalling by sanctimonious new left types. I am worried about the effect of censorship by social media for example You Tube during the pandemic have censored interviews with expert scientists simply because they weren’t toeing the line of the WHO and other public health bodies.

  • Paul Barker 6th Jul '20 - 12:04pm

    The behaviour of Facebook & The Coalition are 2 different issues, why mix them up like this ?
    Why should we be criticising Clegg rather than Zuckerberg ?

    I dont see how this helps us rebuild.

  • I don’t think we should condemn someone for doing a job. This could have been an interesting article about the role of governments vs private monopolies in internet regulation. Instead it comes over as a bitter attack on Nick Clegg’s character.

  • Phil Beesley 6th Jul '20 - 1:26pm

    Nick Clegg is an employee of Facebook. He doesn’t run the company.

    It would not be my choice in life to work for Facebook. Perhaps in a few years Nick Clegg will provide his thoughts about his job, whether it was better to be inside or outside the tent with regard to Facebook’s conduct. It’s up to him to decide whether he is doing the right thing and nothing, directly, to do with the Lib Dems or British politics.

  • John Marriott 6th Jul '20 - 1:39pm

    The excoriation of Nick Clegg by some reminds me of the fate endured by Ramsay MacDonald at the hands of the Labour Party ever since he was instrumental in leading the 1931 National Government.

    As with Sir Nick, people forgot all the pioneering work MacDonald put in from the early 1900s to develop the embryonic Party into a party of government in the 1920s. Yes, he did sell out to the establishment as Clegg and other Lib Dem worthies appear to have done. After all, some people need to earn a living. That Clegg chose to throw in his lot with Zuckerberg is doubly unfortunate, given the latter’s reputation. As I don’t do social media I do not wish to cast judgement on his decision. After all, there has to be life outside of politics for a relatively young guy with a growing family to provide for.

    Just go back a little over ten years. Who got the Lib Dems recognised by the general public through his performances in the Leaders’ Debates? Who helped to keep the party together after the sad Leadership demise of Charles Kennedy and Ming Campbell? I still wonder what would have happened, if, as was claimed later, that the majority of postal votes that arrived too late to be counted were for Chris Huhne? I know that some critics don’t seem to want to be in power, or at least close enough to it to have an influence Pupil Premium, Income Tax thresholds, Renewable Energy , all Lib Dem policies that may never have made it onto the statute book without the Lib Dems accepting Cameron’s ‘generous’ offer.

  • Both Labour and LibDem are in endless moaning mode rather than coming up with some better policies that would make the Tories look silly.

  • Alex Hegenbarth 6th Jul '20 - 2:01pm

    I’d rather we focussed on getting some Focus leaflets out to be honest

  • James Bliss 6th Jul '20 - 2:11pm

    It doesn’t matter how much we condemn clegg, apologise for the coalition or try and forget any of it happened, labour members aren’t gonna forgive or forget hun. Certain parts of the party really need to realise this, cos it’s all that we seem to be discussing these days.

  • Conrad Robert-Smith 6th Jul '20 - 2:14pm

    I don’t blame them, we, Liberal Democrats.

  • Margot Wilson 6th Jul '20 - 2:38pm

    I agree with this opinion. I remain shocked by the political adverts I saw that were being posted on Facebook during the General Election. I conformed to the party request to complain to Facebook but without hope that Facebook would do anything about the blatant lies. As it is, having been an enthusiastic user of Facebook, I shall not use it during July. I hope hitting them in the pocket will have some effect.
    It is not an either or between upholding decent political content and delivering leaflets we can do both.
    Yes, Nick Clegg’s defence of hate speech etc is to be condemned not just by the new leader but by all of us.

  • James Belchamber 6th Jul '20 - 2:43pm

    Right now Nick is acting entirely against our values and our interests. Facebook is refusing to engage with a boycott aimed at getting them to take seriously their role in harbouring and fostering hate speech, and supporting the communities that promote it. Nick is right there in the background, acting as some sort of “fixer” for his boss, instead of persuading him that, yes, Facebook need to acknowledge their role in all this.

    Note the coverage:
    https://metro.co.uk/2020/07/02/nick-clegg-steps-defend-facebook-advertisers-boycott-social-network-12932991/
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/20/nick-clegg-is-on-the-wrong-side-of-history-at-facebook
    https://www.computerweekly.com/blog/Downtime/Doubling-down-with-Nick-Clegg

    Nick is one of the most well-known members (former members?) of the party, and his actions are strongly associated with us. If we don’t make clear that we vehemently disagree with him then our silence will speak volumes.

  • “Condemn this man.”

    He is no no longer upholds our values of compassion, tolerance and liberalism.

  • James Belchamber 6th Jul '20 - 3:03pm

    Also: for a bunch of people that want to stop banging on about the coalition, there’s a lot of talk about the coalition! I didn’t give an opinion or a judgement on the coalition itself. It’s not controversial to say that Nick handled the coalition terribly.

    This article is very specifically about a person that is very strongly associated with our party. For most people his words and actions reflect the words and actions of us all, unless we explicitly say otherwise (and even then, very loudly).

    Nick Clegg IS the Lib Dems, as much as Paddy is, or Jo, or Tim or Vince.

  • Innocent Bystander 6th Jul '20 - 3:07pm

    Can we have a clear definition of ‘hate speech’? For example, recently a group of travellers descended onto our village cricket green. They ignored the padlocked gate and just smashed the fence with 4x4s. They broke into the changing hut and looted it, after they were evicted our parish had to clear up human excrement (lots), broken glass, junk and litter and make good all the damage. Our local paper refuses to report this detail which we stood and saw with our own eyes presumably so as not to cause offence?
    Would a detailed report be hate speech?

  • In an open letter, former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Nick said the tech giant understands many critics are angry about the president’s ‘inflammatory rhetoric’

    “When content falls short of being classified as hate speech – or of our other policies aimed at preventing harm or voter suppression – we err on the side of free expression because, ultimately, the best way to counter hurtful, divisive, offensive speech, is more speech,’ he said.”

    Superbly put by Clegg. He may not share your values but he shares mine on this issue. (And I was a critic of the coalition).

  • Russell Simpson 6th Jul '20 - 3:08pm

    James. I think you did give an opinion.

  • David Evershed 6th Jul '20 - 3:16pm

    Tear down Nick Clegg along with all statues of people from the past. Let’s have anarchy. Then the cockroaches will reign. (That’s us by the way).

  • James Belchamber 6th Jul '20 - 3:17pm

    >Superbly put by Clegg. He may not share your values but he shares mine on this issue. (And I was a critic of the coalition).

    I actually agree with his words here too – very Liberal. But it’s misdirection – Facebook consistently fails to take down hate speech on their platform.

    https://www.techtransparencyproject.org/articles/white-supremacist-groups-are-thriving-on-facebook

    It’s all good and well trotting out the same old lines we can all agree with. The boycott targets Facebook’s actions – which is where they fall woefully short. Instead of engaging with the boycott they’ve decided to wait it out and carry on regardless, trotting out Nick to smooth it all over with misdirection such as this.

  • John Marriott 6th Jul '20 - 3:50pm

    Why do you people engage in Facebook and Twitter and all the other sites than are clearly open to abuse? If you can’t stand the heat…….. I guess it’s back to Jurassic Park for me then?

  • I haven’t heard many people talking about this or of Nick Clegg, I really don’t think many people are paying attention and those who are might actually view his response favourably!

  • Nonconformistradical 6th Jul '20 - 4:14pm

    John Marriott 6th Jul ’20 – 3:50pm has it right.

    Just don’t patronise these sites.

    But I would also suggest that Nick Clegg could have found a more worthwhile way of earning a crust than taking Zuckerberg’s dollar.

  • Andrew Toye 6th Jul '20 - 4:16pm

    The defence of hate speech as ‘free expression’ is bogus as it does not feel like freedom to be on the receiving end of it. No-one would publicly condone physical bullying, so how can anyone condone verbal bullying, which can be just as hurtful?

  • It’s one thing for an obscure unknown provincial Liberal Democrat party member like James Belchamber (or myself for that matter) to express an opinion/dislike/censure of Nick Clegg…… especially for the damage done to less fortunate members of society such as recipients of the Welfare Reform Act, 2013 and the Bedroom Tax when Sir Nicholas was in office…… (have you done that, James ?) – well, actually no :

    ….. “It’s time to stop apologising for the Coalition – and use it instead……..
    By James Belchamber | Wed 22nd January 2020 – 12:25 pm”. LDV.

    … but it’s quite another thing for him to expect any future Leader of the party to do so. If Mr Belchamber really wants the party to commit political suicide, so be it. He’s certainly going the right way about it……. but who’s going to speak up for ‘our principles’ then ?

  • Michael Bukola 6th Jul '20 - 4:38pm

    Lets remember why Nick got into this in the first place

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/19/nick-clegg-facebook-politics-tech

  • Julian Tisi 6th Jul '20 - 4:48pm

    This comes across as rather vindictive TBH. There are plenty of opponents of coalition in the party and many are in the “still hate Nick” camp, just as many Labour members feel the same way about Tony Blair and Nick for that matter. And I think this is at the heart of the continued obsession about him even since he left politics. Most of the articles linked are opinion pieces; I also viewed the interview with Nick linked above by Manfarang 6th July 11:44 and I think he responds pretty well.

  • James Belchamber 6th Jul '20 - 4:54pm

    The earlier links are opinion pieces used to demonstrate the press he (and therefore we) are getting on the subject. Most people not paying close attention to the comings and goings of the Liberal Democrats still thinks he’s a representative of the party (just ask people on the doorstep) and this boycott is massive news.

    The Tech Transparency Project link is actually a report with an associated spreadsheet. It demonstrates very well that what Facebook (through the mouth of Nick Clegg) says and what they are actually doing do not match up.

  • The only people who mentioned the Coalition at thr last election were Momentum Labourites who would never vote for us anyway. Otherwise it was never mentioned to me canvassing and delivering. It was over 5 years ago and not an issue. So there is zero to be gained for turnimg on Nick Clegg for it now.

  • Are there some examples of the content that Facebook failed to take down?

    In still it sure what we are supposed to be condemning Clegg for. I suspect that many of the cases that FB are asked to look at are not entirely clear cut as to whether they should be censored.

    Many people believe rightly or wrongly that we are living in times of unprecedented censorship and conformity so I imagine that Clegg and FB are reluctant to reinforce that.

  • Paul Barker 6th Jul '20 - 5:49pm

    The Facebook Boycott is not “Massive News”, its a small piece on most News sites, some Papers may have coverd it but not on the Front Page.

    Clegg is an Ex-Leader but we dont own him. If all our Leaders have to let The Party vet all their future activities then we may find find that No-one wants the Job.

    This is a stupid, damaging, irrelevant article & I dont think LDV should have published it.

  • Richard Easter 6th Jul '20 - 6:32pm

    We should be condemning the revolving door of politicans going to controversial big multinationals straight out of office, irrespective of party. It looks terrible to the electorate – as though they are all in it together. Whether that is Clegg, Osborne’s six jobs or John Reid going to the excrable G4S.

  • Not to mention Sir Danny off to a Chinese bank with all that entails in human rights and ‘ ‘social liberal’ Sir Steve off to an insurance company that sells annuities to people with pension pots. The Lib Dems seem to have more knights than King Arthur had at his round table.

  • Guido has a couple of things to say about the current leadership contenders.

    This party is incredible. Its first taste of power in ages was bodged up. That was bad enough but it has been allowed to split the party. Some of you will never forgive or forget the tuition fees fiasco. Some will never get over being in coalition with the hated Tories. Some are proud of the achievements in office. None of you will stop being obsessed about it apart from the few who are obsessed that the rest bang on about it.

    Then we have the current leadership election. The two remaining candidates, in my opinion, will not do anything positive for the fortunes of the party. I suspect that everyone already realises this, but it is not something that one would point out until afterwards, when everyone says it.

    The portfolio of new policies are not looking good. There is ever present UBI, everyone’s favourite, but no one can say why paying the rich is an improvement on benefits for the poor.

    Then there is the Green stuff. No one wants to question the justification and no one wants to question the fantasy nature of the mitigation. No one wants to question the costs and no one wants to question why destroying the economy and our way of life will make any difference.

    I’m sure there are other policies too but in amongst the motherhood statements I somehow missed them.

    Wake up, Lib Dems! Is this what you want for your party? Mediocrity and a continued decline into oblivion?

  • Facebook has 2.6 billion users spread across the globe making countless posts daily. There is no realistic way of policing it or ensuring that it adheres to the values of a political party in Britain.

  • In November 2018, Sina Weibo suspended its registration function for minors under the age of 14. In July 2019, Sina Weibo announced that it would launch a two-month campaign to clean up pornographic and vulgar information, named The Blue Plan.
    Censorship by any other name.

  • A main assumption in this article seems to be that the far right can organise themselves effectively by being allowed to have a platform on Facebook- and for which privilege, Facebook profits.

    I’m not so sure that assumption is true. I think there have always been plenty of far right individuals organising themselves using one tool or another.
    Although they may be much stronger in other countries culturally closer to ours, in particular in Eastern Europe and Austria, in the UK, at least, their organising seems to thrive best under the radar. But when they are given a public platform – the NF in the 1970s, or Nick Griffin on Question Time (remember the controversy?), they implode upon exposure. Surely someone has already mentioned the quote attributed to Voltaire on free speech?
    I wouldn’t necessarily advocate Salman Rushdie’s quote “What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”, as I wouldn’t want to be associated with all the baggage of many dubious politicians, journalists and commentators who preen with this quote in a display of their closed notional moral superiority.
    Personally, I prefer a more nuanced quote from the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard: “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”
    Whenever the far-right surface to express their toxic opinions, they shouldn’t be prevented from doing so but challenged and exposed for their thoughtlessness.

  • @ Peter Any news on the controversial press department ‘creative’ email, Peter ?

    @ Joe Pleased Brentford are having a good run, Joe, but “In many respects the Great War proved to be a disaster for the Liberal Party. Yet, paradoxically, it also accomplished many of the objectives which Liberals had always set themselves” begs a few questions :

    Conscription ? DORA ? Imprisoning Conscientious objectors with Hard Labour ? Framing E.D. Morel ? Press censorship. Selling peerages to ‘men who’d done well out of the war’ ? All this and much much more was self inflicted….. not to mention over 800,000 military deaths and near two million military physically or mentally wounded ?

    Imprisoning (with hard labour) and banishing Glasgow union organisers wasn’t a good move either, nor was a heavy handed response to Ireland in 1916. And then they split themselves and had a hit list in an election after rejecting PR.

    A strange set of objectives……..Performed by a Brentford FC Manager would have ended in a rapid parting of the ways, ‘by mutual consent’.

  • “But when they are given a public platform – the NF in the 1970s, or Nick Griffin on Question Time (remember the controversy?), they implode upon exposure.”

    Absolutely right. I remember that episode of question time well. Chris Huhne, Bonnie Greer and David Dimbleby taking it turns to systematically dismantle Griffins arguments and past comments. Phrases like “take down” and “destroy” are wildly overused in relation to debate but that is exactly what they did to Griffin.

    I was proud of Huhne for appearing on the programme which many Labour figures refused to appear on. It was a great example of what many of us argue that the “oxygen of publicity” works against extremists not for them.

  • marcstevens 6th Jul '20 - 9:12pm

    I spoilt my ballot paper and wrote Charles Kennedy. I could vote for neither Clegg nor Huhne. The party should be moving beyond the OBs and their ilk now. The direction it needs to take to survive and be successful is a social liberal one the libertarian I do what I want and couldn’t care less about anyone else attitude. Hate speech is everywhere and that’s why I don’t do social media. By not removing it in his position of power Clegg is condoning it.

  • Quite often the very people that criticise Nick for joining the evil Facebook corporation have themselves Facebook accounts!

  • James Belchamber 6th Jul '20 - 10:04pm
  • Peter Martin 7th Jul '20 - 3:06am

    The Americans have a different, and in many ways, better attitude to Freedom of Speech than we do. The downside, in the USA, is that freedom can be misused – as in the case under discussion by those on the far right.

    The downside, in the UK, is that a removal of the right of free speech can also be misused. Most people won’t know this, but those in the UK who dare challenge the establishment can be easily silenced. Say, for example, an LDV author published evidence that a police or prosecution witness committed perjury in the witness box in order to obtain a guilty verdict against an innocent person.

    The CPS would bring a prosecution charge under the Protection from Harassment Act. (1997) The charge wouldn’t succeed in court because there is clear provision under the PHA for such a course of action to be allowable. The court verdict would have to be Not Guilty. But there’s a catch!

    There is also clear provision under section 5A of the Act for the court to issue a restraining order, even on acquittal, punishable with a possible 5 year prison term if broken, requiring the accused person to do everything possible to remove any published articles from the net and not to repeat the ‘offence’. Even though one hadn’t been committed in the first place!

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1997/40/section/5A

  • Peter Martin 7th Jul '20 - 3:38am

    @ Joseph Bourke,

    “….. just as the 1906-1914 administration was the high point for the Liberal Party in the 20th Century.”

    I’m not sure many female readers would agree with you. The Liberal Government’s treatment of the Suffragettes doesn’t look good from a historical perspective. They had two terms to do something but did nothing. It took the outbreak of WW1 to obtain even a promise that the emancipation of female voters would be later considered.

  • John Marriott 7th Jul '20 - 9:05am

    @marcstevens
    I hate to disagree; but adopting what you call a “social liberal” direction (unless you have mangled your prose) would be a sure fire recipe for further electoral disaster, although looking at the anti social distancers on display last weekend in Soho, for example, you may just have a point. How about running with the slogan “Vote Lib Dem, catch COVID”?

    @David Raw
    I’m glad you said what you did about the sacred 1906-1914 Liberal Government. Perhaps, post 1911, we ought to call it the ‘Liberal led government’ as, after that date, Asquith would appear to have relied on Irish Nationalist and Labour Party votes.

    The misdeeds you cite cannot, of course, be excused. All I would add in their defence was that the nation was fighting a war that, as was the case some 24 years later, was only won thanks to the belated intervention of our American ‘allies’. By then, of course, Asquith had gone and the Welsh Wizard was in charge of a coalition largely dominated by Bonar Law’s Conservatives. That he continued to remain in charge after the 1918 GE is what I fail to understand. Did Mr Law chicken out? Please discuss.

    @Peter Martin
    You are right about the suffragettes. How’s that red LDV coming along?

  • Alex Macfie 7th Jul '20 - 9:42am

    “But when they are given a public platform – the NF in the 1970s, or Nick Griffin on Question Time (remember the controversy?), they implode upon exposure.”

    This doesn’t work on social media platforms, where the toxic messages tend to be read and shared mostly by supporters inhabiting bubbles where there is little or no opportunity for criticism. Opponents of radical extremists on social media are generally advised not to engage with them, for fear that it would simply give them the oxygen of publicity. Most of their social media activity is effectively “under the radar”, and the question is how far social media platforms should go to create a more ‘normal’ field of discourse so that hate speech does not go unchecked.
    Voltaire is also not applicable here. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from its consequences. We have laws regulating defamatory or hate speech precisely because it has consequences. And nor does it mean freedom from criticism of one’s speech. Radical extremists on social media operate mostly in a bubble free from criticism, and the platforms have a legitimate role in bursting these bubbles.

    With all that said, making this in issue about our former Leader is probably the worst thing our next Leader could do. He’s a senior employee of Facebook, but far from being its public face. he’s not a spokesperson for the Lib Dems, so leave him out of it. I say this as a critic of his conduct as party Leader.

    @Mike Read: Facebook’s customers are not its users, they are its advertisers. The call “boycott” is aimed at these, to dry up its revenue until it changes its ways. Of course that may just lead to only having unethical advertisers, which is what it seems to be moving towards now (fake USB sticks anyone?).

  • Cast your mind back. It’s 2010. The general election is almost upon us and the Lib Dems have got this new young leader, Nick Clegg. He shines in television debates, he seems reasonable, knows of what he speaks and even Gordon Brown is forced to say, “I agree with Nick”. Our ratings go up and although the election is a disappointment we are in government. The Holy Grail that generations of liberals walked the streets and knocked on doors to achieve.
    And new people were drawn to our party, including a number I know. This is not some alt-right fantasy. People liked the Lib Dems in 2010. My missus was lifelong Labour, but she thought David Laws was great. Socially liberal but pragmatic when it came to the economy and public services. Well, you’ve succeeded in driving away most of those people. If identity politics doesn’t kill us, a Stalinist purge on the old leadership will.
    As @Julian Tisi remarked, this is vindictive, infact it’s plain nasty and if this is our future, count me out.

  • Paul Murray 7th Jul '20 - 10:07am

    Those with long memories may recall that I was not exactly the biggest fan of Nick Clegg during the coalition years but the idea that he should be ‘cancelled’ (to use the neo-Orwellian grammar of the present lamentable era) appals me more than anything that the Lib Dems did during the coalition years.

  • @: James Belchamber. Ding Dong, the man’s gone for goodness sake. What’s the point apart from incurring mirth amongst the Hislops & Murtons of this world ? R.I.P.

    Don’t remind people about him, young James. No washing of dirty linen in public. Don’t rekindle a version of the Asquith/Lloyd George feud amongst the modern Lilliputians, and then you might, just might, hang on to most of the eleven Lib Dem seats to give support to Keir Starmer becoming P.M. and clearing out the Johnson Augean stables.

    @ Chris Cory Not so sure about your wife’s tastes, Mr Cory.

  • Nigel Jones 7th Jul '20 - 11:03am

    It’s a shame that this discussion is focussed on the person Nick Clegg, rather than the issue around the harm the Facebook can cause. If it is the case that lots of hate messages still circulate on Facebook, then those who know should circulate the evidence to show that what Nick Clegg said is misleading or wrong. We should be attacking the organisation he works for rather than the person and if by implication that shows up he is not getting it right, then that will count against him.
    As to the effect of hate messages, one program (like what happened to Nick Griffin) will not be enough. The counter messages need to be repeated. As we know from the Brexiteers, repetition on social media of the same wrong message eventually sticks and more people believe it to be true. The opposing messages must similarly be repeated and repeated over time.

  • @David Raw. My wife’s politics is none of my business, but the point is she has a vote and it’s disappearing over the horizon at an increasing pace. Serious point is, should our party have room for DL and Mrs. C ?

  • Nonconformistradical 7th Jul '20 - 11:09am

    @Nigel Jones
    “It’s a shame that this discussion is focussed on the person Nick Clegg, rather than the issue around the harm the Facebook can cause. ”

    Agree to some extent. However…..

    “We should be attacking the organisation he works for rather than the person and if by implication that shows up he is not getting it right, then that will count against him.”

    The fact that he works for that organisation in the first place is part of the problem. Maybe just like he was hoodwinked by the tories in 2010 he’s being hoodwinked by zuckerberg?

    Clegg’s role in his present job is about providing that organisation which a veneer of respectability which it doesn’t deserve.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Jul '20 - 12:15pm

    the condemnation of Clegg here is weirdly off centre! The coalition is a sensible basis, but not his job since. Why this hatred for Facebook? Or Zuckerberg? Free speech and Liberals, go hand in glove. The hatred of Zuckerberg because of hate speech, when Clegg says that company removes three million comments a month?!

    I think if Facebook, unlike many, pay tax, and are legal, they are one business that yes, should change, be put on notice of needing to do more, but not at the expense of free speech. If there is real hate speech, that is for those who rightly and properly deal with these groups, to. Not for us to demand or condemn a man who earns money from a legal, business.

    We ought to break with that past government.

    We can in this leadership election if that is the priority. Why should either candidate make James be the factor, and condemn a man most have not a thought of.

    The author of this article needs to reassess values if he thinks Facebook so awful and Clegg also, in a world of Putin, trump, Orban, and worse!

  • suzanne fletcher 7th Jul '20 - 12:37pm

    I am not voting for any candidate that goes around condemning people for what we have disagreed with. Or in this case have agreed with and changed minds.
    Where does the purge end?
    Not one bit Liberal do being doing so, and either candidate would be down right stupid to also lose the votes of those that do still stand by Nick and what he tried to do.
    We are in a bubble on LDV / facebook and other discussion groups.

  • Criticism of both Facebook and Nick Clegg are valid.

    Facebook for many reasons, including the fact that it is the platform that enabled the whole Cambridge Analytica thing, and while that is the most famous incident there have been numerous other situations where Facebook has leaked private user data to third parties. The Free Speech argument fails because of the way it allows messages and ads to be hyper targeted. Free Speech in politics only works when you say something I disagree with, I hear it, and I then have the opportunity to rebut it. The targeting that Facebook allows breaks that covenant and allows harmful messages to resonate and amplify in an echo chamber.

    Criticism of Nick Clegg is valid because every time I hear him speak for Facebook he is justifying it actions, and doesn’t give even a tiny hint he is trying to improve it from within.

    (No, I don’t have a Facebook account)

  • Poor Nick Clegg. From poster boy to pariah. Not only is he blamed for every decision of the Coalition government, but now he is condemned for ” not bending the knee’ as a Facebook representative. A pity that every communication I receive from the party encourages me to share its content on Facebook. A pity also that what once a party that was famed for its tolerance and supported free speech is now obsessed with virtue signalling gestures which grossly over simplifies what are complex issues

  • David Allen 7th Jul '20 - 5:43pm

    Nick Clegg showed his true beliefs and character long before he joined Facebook. A few months after winning the Lib Dem leadership, he announced that he had a new Big Idea for the party, which was “Big Permanent Tax Cuts”.

    That was a slogan taken directly from the US neocon flat-tax small-state movement. It was a clear attack on the mixed economy and social welfare provision. It was a clear message of support for the right-wing drive toward greater inequality and control of government by the richest for the richest. Why it didn’t ring more alarm bells at the time, I will never know. I expect many people just didn’t believe that a Lib Dem could really mean what this Lib Dem had said that he meant. I resigned as Cjhairman of my local Lib Dems, but almost nobody else acted similarly.

    The Coalition gave Clegg his chance to put it all into practice. He did. It was not all the Tories’ fault. It was also Clegg’s fault, and his allies’ fault.

    Now everyone can see that Clegg is a shameless apologist for Facebook’s bad behaviour. He is yet again using an unjustified reputation for “liberal” principles as a means of whitewashing the indefensible. That’s what Zuckerberg pays him for.

    Of course he should be condemned. The Lib Dems will not have a future unless they do.

  • Let’s not waste too much time on Anti-Clegg -mania.

  • David Allen,

    we already have single-rate flat taxes and have had for many years – Corporation Tax, VAT, National Insurance, inheritance tax, alcohol, tobacco and fuel duties, betting tax, TV Licenses, Vehicle excise duty, stamp duty reserve tax, customs duties, landfill tax, Insurance premium tax, business rates etc. It is only income tax, capital gains, council tax and stamp duty land tax that have a degree of graduation in rates. Council tax would be far more progressive if we had a flat rate applied to market value of properties.
    Income taxes account for around 25% of the tax take. The amounts of additional tax collected over and above the basic rate from graduated taxes are a fraction of the overall tax take (approx 2% to 3%),
    Graduated taxes may make you feel better, but Social welfare provision comes from earnings across the economy. The funds provided by the higher rate element of graduated income tax over and above basic rate would account for only a small proportion of the social security budget.
    The coalition increased taxes on higher earners significantly. The richest tenth of households saw their direct tax liabilities increase, mainly as a result of higher NICs rates, reductions in the point at which the higher 40% rate of income tax started to be applied and restrictions on tax relief on pension contributions. These more than offset the reduction in the additional rate of income tax, which only affects a relatively small number of very rich households. Lower income deciles benefitted from the economic stimulus of lower net taxes as the gain from changes to direct taxes (most importantly, the big increases in the income tax personal allowance) offset higher VAT.
    Clegg’s priorities were no secret. He advocated for reduced taxes after a long period of increasing levels of stealth taxes under Labour, electoral reform, cuts in defence spending, and an increased focus on environmental issues.
    The 2010 manifesto included committments to:
    • Make the first £10,000 people earn tax-free. The party makes that a tax cut of £700 for “most people”
    • A pledge to free 3.6 million low earners and pensioners from income tax
    • Pay for tax cuts by closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy and “polluting” air travel, introduce a “mansion tax” at a rate of 1% on properties worth more than £2m.

  • I think this is a good article, in that it provoked debate.
    I don’t like the vindictive tone, and I think by unprompted coming out and “condemning” Clegg we’ll do the opposite of what you want to achieve.

    That said, I’ve sympathy with some of the thurst – that Clegg needs to be understood as someone who has now sold out.

  • Please don’t add fuel to this continuing Lib Dem obsession with Nick Clegg and all his works. It’s unhealthy and self-defeating.

  • John Marriott 8th Jul '20 - 9:00am

    Here’s my final word on Nick Clegg. He’s surely, despite all his good intentions, just another one of Nadine Dorries’ ‘posh boys’, although, being of liberal persuasion, he might just have known the price of milk, at least in Waitrose. It’s surely time to let him do his ‘California dreamin’ and MOVE ON!

  • Anthony Acton 8th Jul '20 - 5:59pm

    Nick Clegg is a man of ability in a thin field – look at the quality of the present Cabinet –
    and possesses extraordinary resilience. But he never understood that it was the egregious betrayal involved in breaking a solemn well-publicised pledge, rather than the change of policy itself, which trashed his and the party’s reputation. The new leader has to acknowledge and apologise for that electrifying breach of trust, without reservation, if the party is ever to move on.

  • Peter Chambers 8th Jul '20 - 7:13pm

    @John Boss
    > A pity that every communication I receive from the party encourages me to share its content on Facebook.

    Good point. The party should cease using Facebook for everything. No more adverts, no more content, no more logins – until they act on Hate Speech.

  • David Allen 8th Jul '20 - 8:18pm

    Joe Bourke,

    A case can be made for adopting flat-rate taxes, rather than graduated taxes, without necessarily making big changes either to the total tax take or to their relative incidence on higher and lower earners. But that wasn’t the case that the US neocon movement advocated and Clegg adopted. In Clegg’s words, it was “Big Permanent Tax Cuts”. It meant rolling back the State. It meant austerity. No doubt the Coalition put its own stamp on policy, but it lined up pretty well with Clegg’s catchy slogan.

    (Of course, we know that 75% of what the Coalition did was down to the Lib Dems, and the Tories were very much the junior partner who had to do what the Lib Dems told them. Why do we know that? Because Lib Dem propagandists have assured us that this was so, of course!)

    Nick Clegg, and the Coalition, are millstones around the necks of the Lib Dems. The remedy should be obvious.

  • https://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/nick-clegg-are-liberals-to-blame-that-hoax-news-is-swinging-elections-a3400886.html Nick Clegg’s views on this matter in November 2016 while still MP.
    Even if I agreed wholeheartedly with David Steel’s assessment on his “6 ways Nick Clegg steered the Liberal Democrats to disaster” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/11/nick-clegg-liberal-democrats-disaster-coalition
    I think Nick Clegg’s article makes a clear and rational argument regarding social media, pointing out that there are always social ‘bubbles’ (but surely not us ? lol) and that “Maybe us liberals forgot that people believe things if they feel right. The heart is a stronger organ than the brain. And populists know how to appeal to emotions in a way reasonable, measured liberals almost never do. So the politics of moderation needs to pack a bigger emotional punch. That’s our problem — not Mark Zuckerberg’s.”

    James Belchamber claims “he has abandoned our principles…” – rubbish. it’s clear from this article that he’s been pretty consistent on his views on this matter, and has never believed that Facebook is perfect. Let’s not shrink our small political sect further by condemning pragmatists of their day, like Clegg, and Steel, and upholding only the pure idealists (Corbyn, anyone?)

  • Michael Berridge 8th Jul '20 - 9:04pm

    I came off Facebook years ago. Not on principle, I just never liked or understood it. Twitter works far better for expressing an opinion. As for Nick Clegg: I liked him for a long time, but he was gullible and naive and made the big mistake of going for unachievable constitutional reform instead of issues that ordinary voters could identify with. Let’s move on from there. It’s history. If we’re digging up skeletons, I’d rather unearth Blair’s Iraq, and the strange death of Dr David Kelly.

  • Charles Smith 8th Jul '20 - 9:24pm

    The three-way deal, struck last month, saw Mr Martin take over from Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach (Irish prime minister), with the Fine Gael leader as his deputy and the Greens signing up after protracted negotiations. However, both leader Eamon Ryan and deputy Catherine Martin, who are in the midst of a leadership contest, each indicated their willingness to walk away. Speaking at the party’s Ireland South hustings on Tuesday, Ms Martin said: “Yes, I would be prepared to cause an election and I think that is known.
    https://worldabcnews.com/micheal-martin-crisis-irelands-new-leader-already-on-brink-days-after-replacing-varadkar-world-news/

  • When Clegg took the big FB job, he was perfectly entitled to do the best for him and his family and it was not up to the naysayers who wanted him hounded out of politics to have any influence as to what he decided to do next.

    Air the time, I said Clegg will improve the running of FB and he is and will no doubt improve it further. It rankles to see those naysayers blaming him for everything they don’t like about FB as if one new executive was going to completely turn such a huge operation around after 2-3 years.

    But Clegg is proof that when a politician becomes a scapegoat, it is a burden he will likely carry forever

  • marcstevens 11th Jul '20 - 4:56pm

    So if your libertarian Orange Booker led direction of a reduction in MPs from 57 in 2010 to 8 in 2015 isn’t an electoral disaster I dread to think what is in your book? Perhaps 1 MP maybe? These are the facts, the party has never done better under Charles Kennedy, King of the Social Liberals, and never worse under Clegg the Orange Booker King, but facts you choose to ignore. As for anti social liberalism, your grouping have got it down to a tee. You’ve obviously got confused in Soho, the libertarians don’t care about distancing, the rest of us do and are practising it. Would your ilk repeal the smoking in buildings too, putting at risk those of us with health problem’s exacerbated by the I do what I want where I want when I want libertarian brigade?

  • marcstevens 11th Jul '20 - 5:07pm

    repeal the smoking ban.

  • @Pamela [email protected] Chambers. My ironic reference about obligatory use of Facebook was taken too literally. Facebook already takes down many messages which doesn’t please Pamela but leaves other messages untouched to the dismay of Peter. There is need for a more nuanced discussion about to what extent and by whom are Facebook and other social media outlet contributions vetted and censored.

  • David Evans 13th Jul '20 - 5:57pm

    I think J Littler means “when a politician destroys 50 years of hard work by his party members by putting support for another party’s leader ahead of the cause they had worked for, it is a burden he will rightly have to carry forever.”

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