Well, that’s one way to wake up in the morning: “Can you come on the Today Programme in 5 minutes”

This morning I was in bed at that stage when you start to get that vague inclination that there is a world beyond the cosy warmth and snuggliness of the duvet but can still pretend it isn’t really happening.

When my phone started ringing, I had to come to rather faster than I’d planned. It was a producer from the Today Programme on Radio 4 asking if I’d talk to Jim Naughtie about the election results and Nick Clegg’s leadership pretty much there and then. Now, when I’ve done these things before, I’ve always got up early, mugged up on what’s being said in the press and, crucially, had a cup of tea. I’d never spoken to one of the UK’s premier journalists before Earl Grey had passed my lips in the morning. I guess I didn’t have time to panic, though.

Key points I talked about were that people were a bit fearful and fretful, it had been a brutal night, and we could see from his interview yesterday that Nick felt that pain with us.

I said that we needed to get behind Nick and get on with working to get a good result in the General Election. I made a distinction between people who had signed the letter, many of whom are my friends and whose anxieties I share, and what looks like a co-ordinated attempt to undermine Nick’s leadership by whoever it was commissioned that poll that was leaked to the Guardian at what was always going to be the worst point in the electoral cycle. To the latter, I have one message. Just stop.

I said that it was important that Nick listened to what the grassroots were saying and he needed to widen the circle of people he took advice from on a regular basis. My view that he should stay was not based on blind loyalty as he gets the sharp end of my keyboard when I think he deserves it.

It’s my view that as the economy is turning the corner and the policies that we have implemented are starting to bear fruit that it would be very unfair to ditch the person who led us into Government and that a leadership election is not what we should be doing, we should be getting behind Nick and working for the General Election because  we can do well.

You can listen to the whole thing here from 1 hour 20 minutes in. I am far from being a slick, polished media professional at the best of times, let alone within my first moments of consciousness so it’s pretty stuttery.

Just as an aside, former Liberal Youth co-chair Kavya Kaushik gave Labour student Bex Bailey a total pasting on BBC News Channel yesterday, chiding Labour for wasting time putting out ridiculous attacks on Nick Clegg and us rather than standing up to UKIP. Her blog post on the experience gives a lot of interesting behind the scenes detail.

 

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

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19 Comments

  • Been saying he should widen his circle of advisers for several years now. He never seems to actually do it, though.

  • Daniel Henry 27th May '14 - 2:50pm

    (Your Kavya link goes to BBC radio! 🙂 )

  • George Kendall 27th May '14 - 2:56pm

    Hi Caron. Didn’t sound stuttery at all to me. Must have been nerve-wracking doing an interview straight after waking up. Well done.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th May '14 - 2:59pm

    I also make a distinction between those who asked questions and those who won’t listen to the people they claim to support. I panicked because you don’t flash a knife and say you want a respectful debate.

    Clegg has shown more admirable qualities today by announcing that 16 and 17 year olds are getting access to job seekers allowance for the first time. People will disagree, but I am going to help the party get its messaging across by sharing the message and starting the re-build.

    Thanks for the work. Best wishes to all.

  • The correct link for the blog post would seem to be: http://kavyakaushik.com/2014/05/26/my-bbc-news-election-results-interview/

  • Eddie, I stand to be corrected by the Lib Dem web site says:
    ““For the first time 16 and 17-year-olds who need help to find work or training will have access to jobcentres where they will get tailored support from a work coach.

    “We need to do all we can to help them gain essential skills for work so they can play their part in securing Britain’s long term success, building a stronger economy and fairer society for this generation and the next.”

    Currently, under-18s don’t have a single point of contact that can help them get a job, so they don’t know where to turn. Work coaches have seen great success supporting over 18s into work, which is why the Liberal Democrats want to trial this system for young people

    Nothing seemingly about an allowance, this is about coaching/help, which used to happen with “Conections” which this government shut down as partof the savings. Also Job Seekers Allowance has always been payable in exceptional circumstances to 16 – 17 years , whilst others who did not qualify under that arrangement were able to claim Income Support if their circumstances allowed. I just to claim for youngsters who had been introuble and in hostels etc.

    As I said I stand to be corrected

    .

  • PS Need to correct some spelling, obviously I need some coaching as well!!!!

  • Re-Entered

    Eddie, I stand to be corrected but the Lib Dem web site says:
    ““For the first time 16 and 17-year-olds who need help to find work or training will have access to jobcentres where they will get tailored support from a work coach.

    “We need to do all we can to help them gain essential skills for work so they can play their part in securing Britain’s long term success, building a stronger economy and fairer society for this generation and the next.”

    Currently, under-18s don’t have a single point of contact that can help them get a job, so they don’t know where to turn. Work coaches have seen great success supporting over 18s into work, which is why the Liberal Democrats want to trial this system for young people”

    Nothing seemingly about an allowance, this is about coaching/help, which used to happen with “Conections” which this government shut down as partof the savings. Also Job Seekers Allowance has always been payable in exceptional circumstances to 16 – 17 years , whilst others who did not qualify under that arrangement were able to claim Income Support if their circumstances allowed. I used to claim for youngsters who had been introuble and in hostels etc.

    As I said I stand to be corrected

    .

  • Daniel Henry 27th May '14 - 3:27pm

    Cheers Jack!

  • Eddie Sammon 27th May '14 - 3:30pm

    Sorry Theakes, I sped read it and assumed it said job seekers allowance but it said job seekers support. Never the less, it is still good news. I don’t want to derail the debate, it was just a bit of news that I felt was good and wanted to share.

  • It’s a very sychophantic interview full of excuses and not offering any solutions, just oh well I can understand it wasall going to be very grim blah blah blah typical Pangloss Candide rhetoric – do people who lost their seats really want to hear defeatism . I really think the BBC should be putting the alternative view justifying why Nick Clegg should go now, not just pandering to the apologists and members of the Party’s federal executive who aren’t representative of rank and file members.

  • I would go as far as to say it’s the worst interview I’ve ever heard a Liberal Democrat give on radio, totally unconvincing – no wonder the other parties are laughing at us. Clegg Out.

  • @david

    I know you are angry and understand your anger but please, please could i ask you to tone down your language aimed at Caron. I really do not think she deserves that.

    I do not know Caron personally, however I do know what a caring compassionate Liberal Lady that she is, I have been on the receiving end of her compassion and sense of justice and I know how she stands up to the establishment and is more than prepared to cross the party lines at times.

    I know this is none of my business and I should probably butt out, however I cant sit back and allow Caron to be painted in picture that I know is not true or fair.

  • I am going by what I heard on the radio and it was an unconvincing performance and I stick with it.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 27th May '14 - 6:02pm

    @ David,

    The worst interview you’ve ever heard? Now you’re just being unpleasant for the sake of it. Yes, you don’t agree with the message, but don’t allow that to colour your opinion to the point of absurdity.

    But I write on the accusation you charge Federal Executive with. I must remind you that fifteen of the twenty-nine members are directly elected by conference delegates by STV, and looking at the names, they don’t appear to be wildly unrepresentative – I like to think that I know a lot of people across the party.

    There is a case to be made for Nick Clegg to resign as leader, and some of the points made have given me cause to ponder, but if you insist on abusing anyone who disagrees with you with such venom, you risk encouraging the neutrals to side with him and against you.

    Play the ball, and not the person. It was Huhne ignoring that advice in 2008 that convinced me to back Clegg instead – I’d backed Huhne against Campbell and Hughes – and I wasn’t alone in that. The law of unintended consequences, I guess you’d call it…

  • Dr Zulfiqar Ali 28th May '14 - 1:30am

    I did listen this interview and am full of admiration for what Caron said and the way she handled questions about the ICM polls and Party Leadership.She took a balanced approach in handling the questions and has very sensibly shown loyalty for her Leader.
    It is very possible we would take further hammering because of our stance on Europe and because our tuition free education policy was never brought to discussion at the time of signing up to coalition but we need to stick to our leader for lot of good he has done for the wider benefit of this Nation. A split in the aprty or removal of the leader at this stage would not bring electoral successes .Do not forget Conservative party never benefited by replacing Ian Duncan Smith with Michael Howard approximately 2 years before 2005 elections.Liberal Democrats never produced any leader of Nick’s resilience, has nerves of steals and if it were not to Nick i doubt we would be in coalition and would never be a party of govenment. Replacing Nick would surely leave us a leaderless Party .It would not only be Nick leaving the office rather whole Lib Dems cabinet members would also have to vacate their offices , all of them signed up to the same principles of governing the coalition .Remeber it takes time for a leader to be known for his/her vision and strategic direction for his party. Having a new leader just 9 to 12 months before next elections would plung us into chaos and he/she would not have enough time to build momentum .
    Off course party activists have opinion about how the party should be run and they deserve to be listened.Like many other gross-root activists i do not agree with Nick’s inner circle repeating the mantara “where we are strong we would win”. When did we sign up to not working to improve representation for our paty and rather to defend the little fort of power?.
    Zulfiqar

  • @david: “I would go as far as to say it’s the worst interview I’ve ever heard a Liberal Democrat give on radio, totally unconvincing”

    Do you listen to the radio? It was a perfectly decent interview. I don’t much agree with the message but Caron got it across pretty clearly.

  • I don’t see why we can’t disagree without being so incredibly rude to each other; I thought Caron did well, even though I disagree with pretty much everything she said. Since this era of argument looks like it’s going to be protracted we should probably try and get along.

    She says we should “get behind Nick”, but of course that’s not a meaningful course of action. I assume she’s been behind Nick all this time, and that’s how we got into this mess, so I fail to see how not changing at all is a plan for success. I believe that if the party does what Caron says we’re all in big trouble.

    When it comes to leadership change she said “a small number of people think that” – 39% of paid up members according to LDV. It’s was quite sad in this sense, she seemed to genuinely believe what she was saying even though the facts were writ large against her claims. It reminded me a lot of Danny’s after-poll interview the other night, that inability to admit the implications of the numbers in front of us.

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