Paddy: Clegg “has had 17 buckets of s**t dumped over his head by the right-wing press”

Paddy Ashdown talks on "The global power shift" in Brussels March 1st 2012 -  Some rights reserved by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE That’s the rather striking quote from Paddy Ashdown in an interview with Iain Dale on LBC radio. Here’s how the Herald reported it:

Speaking to LBC radio’s Iain Dale, Lord Ashdown insisted the party’s dismal poll ratings would recover as the “true Nick Clegg” was revealed to voters.

“The right-wing press in this country detest the coalition – detest it,” he said.

“If they want to destroy the coalition, what they do is they attack what they consider to be the weakest link and the weakest link is Nick.

“He has had 17 buckets of s**t dumped over his head by these people year in, year out, month in, month out. Of course, that’s going to have an effect.

“But I don’t think this course is lost and I think that we can reveal the true Nick Clegg before the election and the more we do, the easier the job will be.”

Paddy was speaking to Iain Dale about his new book, The Cruel Victory, reviewed by Caron Lindsay on LDV here. You can listen to their 18-minute discussion in full here.

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  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 5th Jul '14 - 8:49am

    They must have been very big buckets, cos 17 does seem a bit of an underestimate to me. I love it when Paddy gets scatological.

  • Caron, it is perfectly possible that if an ordinary commenter on here had made those comments, rather than a party hero, you would have banned it on the grounds of rudeness and possibly offensiveness.

    While agreeing with Paddy on this one, I think he should expand his comment to include the party as a whole. Where I cannot agree with him is in his full-throated support of Nick Clegg, his acolytes, and the tendency he represents, over the last few years. If Paddy had stuck by the founding ideas of the Lib Dems, and made it known in upper echelons of the party, I think we may not have been in the dire political situation we are now. It may be that some of the criticism of Clegg has been unjustified, but much of it has been self-inflicted. There comes a time when people need to recognise that a fight cannot be won (and Paddy will know this better than most), and to ensure the fight is on the best and most believable grounds you can achieve.

  • One of the buckets that are regularly dumped on Clegg are claims that he will walk into a sinecure at the European Commission. Looking at the BBC site today I see an article about possible contenders for the UK Commissioner [ ]

    No consideration of Clegg as a candidate – funny that, but it will not stop the mud slinging.

  • Martin, this topic may be slightly off thread, but the BBC item is suggesting that Cameron’s nominee should be a Conservative eurosceptic, but one acceptable enough to the EP that he or she does not provoke the Parliament to reject the whole group of Commissioners. That may be why Clegg does not get a mention.

  • Bill Le Breton 5th Jul '14 - 9:47am

    Successful politicians have very clear public images.

    Paddy has identified the challenge: to reveal the true Nick Clegg. But is Nick Clegg himself able to find his true self? And if he were able to locate this true self, would people believe it was him and not yet another mask? They have been fooled before, I am not sure they want to risk being fooled again.

    In the last seven years the public has been presented thanks to his communications strategies with so many versions of Nick Clegg that they have given up believing he is anything other that a typical politician. Of course the Party has undergone a similar experience which is why so many members and activists are ambivalent. They are not sure which Nick Clegg they are campaigning for: the one in favour of policy X or the one against the policy of X.

    So, I wish Paddy luck in first finding the true Nick Clegg. Perhaps Nick Clegg is someone very skilled at reflecting back the exact image people want of him. That doesn’t work when you are interacting with many people about many issues.

    It is a great sales strategy, but it is a poor political strategy. People end up believing you are selling snake oil. Looking back over the last seven years, can you blame them?

    Paddy has found a tough job. I wish his well.

  • Keith Edkins 5th Jul '14 - 9:59am

    Oi, right wing press, do you mind? There’s a queue…

  • ““If they want to destroy the coalition, what they do is they attack what they consider to be the weakest link and the weakest link is Nick.”

    Glad to see Paddy Ashdown admitting Clegg is the weakest link. Any of the voting public who watched the Farage debate already knew that. His answer to “how do you see the EU in 10 years time” was right up there with his tuition fee pledge and “no more broken promises”.

  • Tim13: That is the point so much of the horse manure directed at Clegg is so obviously unrealistic. There never ever was the slightest chance that the Tories or Labour would nominate Nick Clegg, yet that does not stop the idea being spread about, suggesting that it is an inevitability.

    Bill: it is not too difficult: the true Nick Clegg is strongly wedded to the centre ground and believes in compromise, but that position carries some of the drawbacks that you outline.

  • Jonathan Pile 5th Jul '14 - 11:48am

    Paddy blame it on the right wing press ! – The Sun is always a good one but those 17 buckets have landed on the 1500 lost councillors and 11 lost MEPs ! As Clegg’ chief apologist and Cheerleader Paddy has much responsibility in keeping Clegg in power against the wishes of lib dem voters and members. come the party conference, come the general election lib dems will vote Clegg out as leader and mp.

  • paul barker 5th Jul '14 - 12:07pm

    Its not just the Right Wingers either, the Classist/Authoritarian Left have joined in with glee. Often Left & right are prepared to recycle each others shit. We need to develop more self-belief & a bit of Loyalty to those we push into the Front-Line.

  • Richard Dean 5th Jul '14 - 12:20pm

    If the word sh*t is to be used, then should we not apply it to Paddy? He has damaged the party with his offensive language, and by calling its leader weak.

  • The weakest link? Blimey – with friends like Paddy Ashdown, who needs enemies?

  • No recognition from Paddy, that Clegg pulled the chain that tipped the buckets.?

  • Tony Dawson 5th Jul '14 - 3:00pm

    @Paddy Ashdown

    “the weakest link is Nick.”

    We hold these truths to be self-evident. . . . 🙁

  • Aren’t liberals supposed to believe that humans are rational and autonomous beings? There’s an increasingly paternal and condescending attitude in this parish that implies voters aren’t capable of making their own minds up or being able to disentangle media bias.

  • David Evans 5th Jul '14 - 7:25pm

    @Paul Barker – Somehow I don’t remember the Lib Dems pushing Nick into the front line. I do remember one person showing massive eagerness for the role. He got it and he has made a mess of it.

  • Richard Harris 6th Jul '14 - 7:42am

    I hardly ever read newspapers, and yet my opinion if NC could not be any lower. He lied to get into office on an issue that was important to me and my family. Therefore we won’t vote for him and will gladly advise others not to. I’ve watched many of NC’s speeches and read many of his press releases and I have seen no reason to change my opinion. The press has nothing to do with his lack of popularity. Paddy shouldn’t pass the buck.

  • Stephen Campbell 6th Jul '14 - 1:33pm

    @Muxlowe: “Aren’t liberals supposed to believe that humans are rational and autonomous beings? There’s an increasingly paternal and condescending attitude in this parish that implies voters aren’t capable of making their own minds up or being able to disentangle media bias.”

    Indeed. The Liberal Democrats have come up with countless excuses for their low poll numbers and ever decreasing pool of people who vote for them. For the first few years of the coalition, it was the voters’ fault for either not understanding how coalitions work or not understanding Lib Dem policy. Then we were told that your policies and messages are fine, but people aren’t listening so you needed to “shout louder” to get them to listen. Again, the electorate’s fault. Now we’re told it’s all the media’s fault and it’s all a conspiracy to drown out the One True Way that is the Liberal Democrats under Clegg. Both excuses are arrogant (and remind me of the way New Labour used to act towards the electorate) and assume that said electorate is stupid and that they’re totally guided by the media and unable to seek out facts and make decisions for themselves. Not a liberal position at all.

    I just wonder how long this party will continue to blame anyone: the voters, the media, “Labour trolls”, etc., until it realises that the problem is actually with themselves, with what they voted for in Parliament with and the man who continues to lead them into electoral oblivion.

  • peter tyzack 6th Jul '14 - 10:08pm

    I was just wondering why Paddy chose the number 17.. then I counted up the negative comments above.

  • Richard Dean 6th Jul '14 - 10:31pm

    Paddy the Psychic?
    Given his record on the recent votes, what does he predict for 2015?

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