“Who agrees with Nick?” – BBC Radio Sheffield’s Nick Clegg documentary

There’s still time to listen to BBC Radio Sheffield’s documentary about Nick Clegg, which features an exclusive interview with Nick, as well as comments from Paul Scriven (Leader of Sheffield City Council), Allan Wisbey (Nick’s election agent in Sheffield Hallam for the 2010 General Election) and Joe Otten (Lib Dem blogger and Chair of Sheffield Hallam Liberal Democrats).

From the accompanying blurb on the BBC Sheffield and South Yorkshire website:

“It’s been a real rollercoaster year.”

Nick Clegg’s own assessment of the last few months could be seen as something of an understatement.

Go back to December 2009, and the Sheffield Hallam MP was the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the third ranked party in British politics.

As of December 2010 he is Deputy Prime Minister in a coalition government which is facing one of the harshest economic climates in recent times.

Mr Clegg gave BBC Sheffield’s political reporter, James Vincent, an exclusive interview to talk about the last few months and their impact on him, his party and the country.

It’s available on BBC iPlayer here until Friday 7 January 2011.

Read more by or more about , , , or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

14 Comments

  • Nick Clegg ran a spectacularly good media campaign in the general election and supervised excellent coalition negotiations. His judgment, however, regarding the way in which his volte face on the ‘rate’ of deficit reduction and the discard of the pledge on student fees would be received by the British public was/is Wayne Rooneyesque. The people suffering as a result of ‘promise broken’ man’s conduct are the councillors and activists up and down the land, not the hangers-on who surround the Leader. The ‘we didn’t win’ excuse is so LIMP when applied to promises (as opposed to manifesto items).Ordinary decent non-political people now have a horrible taste in their mouth when they mouth the words ‘Liberal Democrats’. But this is NOTHING to do with our Party – only to the conduct of a handful of individuals. The only issue is whether judgment or honesty is the issue.

  • I still rather admire Clegg’s leadership. I’ve always been a liberal, but didn’t vote for the Liberal Democrats until the last election. Before that I’ve floated. Now I find myself in a position where I plan to join.

    The Lib Dems have for years been a party of shameless opportunism, but over the last 18 months they have vastly improved and sought to offer a serious progressive alternative to Labour. My only complaint is that they didn’t ditch their dishonest pledges on matters like tuition fees earlier (and I hold no truck with those activists who claim they were betrayed on this – that you were advocating an undeliverable policy on this issue should have been apparent, and your denial just makes you complicit).

    But such is politics. All parties make promises they realise they can’t keep. Often its niaveity rather than dishonesty. I’m honestly not sure what it is in this case – I’m guessing even Nick Clegg did not expect to have to confront the situation if he went into Coalition. It doesn’t stop the Liberal Democrats being the party now closest to my values.

  • @Observer

    Spectacularly good media campaign? His team should have known what was about to happen when The Sunday Times compared his popularity to that of Christ after that first “spectacularly good” (granted) performance during the first TV debate. On cue came Clegg’s demolition – reportedly co-ordinated by George Osborne – by the Telegraph, Daily Mail and Times on the day of the second debate: a poll rating of 30% simply evaporated as the Express and Sun joined in the fray.
    Where was the party’s media rebuttal unit in all this and during the last two weeks of the campaign?
    More to the point, where is there a media strategy designed to counter and contain so much of the bile written about Liberal Democrats? This perhaps goes to the heart of explaining why people’s reaction to us is as illustrated in the previous comment.

  • Tom, I agree with you entirely. I too have developed a great admiration for the calm and earnest manner with which Nick Clegg is dealing with the situation. The tuition fee pledge was irresponsible. It was admirable of him and Vince Cable to have done the right thing after they entered the Government, viz., to ensure that the Universities are not starved of funding, and the State will provide a wide safety net for the students that can’t afford to repay the tuition fee loans. No doubt they have paid a heavy political price for it. But they need to do a lot more in communicating better what is going on. So do all the Liberal Democrats.

  • Tony Dawson 3rd Jan '11 - 6:41pm

    “Where was the party’s media rebuttal unit in all this and during the last two weeks of the campaign?”

    The Lib Dems have never been seen to have a particularly effective media operation centrally. Nor a campaigning operation. The Party’s principal effective central operation over the years has been an elections operation (mis-named ‘campaigns’) which has had mixed fortunes but a history, on average, of doing rather well in by-elections in particular.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Jan '11 - 12:10am


    Nick Clegg ran a spectacularly good media campaign in the general election and supervised excellent coalition negotiations

    I regret he did not. Our party started off at a high point in the polls, but dropped as the campaign went on. This is not something we have seen before – the usual pattern is that we gather up support as the election campaign progresses. Although the high initial poll level was put down to “Cleggmania”, it was actually at that level just BEFORE the first TV debate – so it was more down to Liberal Democrat activists gearing up for the election and getting out local material before it was officially called than it was down to Clegg’s TV appearance.

    On the first TV debate, Clegg had something of a novelty value as he was almost unknown to most electors, so people felt it good to see someone they had not thought of before who was as good as the other two. However, that was it – I think we had a big problem in that this was over-pushed as if he was a marvellous and stunning performer, and this ended up making his rather pedestrian and faltering performances in the later debates look worse – he didn’t live up to his billing.

    I can very much accept that his hands were tied in the coalition negotiations. One big reason they were tied was our disappointing result in the actual election – we ended on a downward trajectory, we were in no position to be able to say “agree with us, or we’ll cause another election and pick up more support”. However, he clearly did not push hard enough at asking for a balance of power in the coalition that matched the balance of votes rather than the balance of seats. I think he should have insisted on us having one of the big posts – Vince Cable as Chancellor of the Exchequer being the most obvious, but himself as Foreign Secretary would have been another. A mere referendum on AV fell far short of what our party has always said it would insist on in the past when it considered what it would want to see if it held the balance of power.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Jan '11 - 12:22am


    All parties make promises they realise they can’t keep. Often its niaveity rather than dishonesty. I’m honestly not sure what it is in this case – I’m guessing even Nick Clegg did not expect to have to confront the situation if he went into Coalition. It doesn’t stop the Liberal Democrats being the party now closest to my values.

    This is another example of poor leadership. The line “no-one could have expected the coalition” has been put in his defence many times in many places, for example in the editorial of the last Liberal Democrat News before Christmas. But it’s a nonsense line – the growing strengtho fth LibDems and not spectacular poll results for the Tories meant a no-majority situation was always a fair possibility following the 2010 general election.

    It should have been planned for. The big publicity given to the signing of a pledge on a specific policy item was a most stupid mistake. It is actually an important practical rule in politics that you should not make promises unless you are sure you can keep them. If you are not sure, you must be careful to downgrade what you want to an aspiration and not a firm promise. It really is important to put the “ifs and buts” in what you say so that you can’t be nailed down by accusations of making false promises should you find yourself in the embarrassing situation of not being able to deliver what you had wanted to deliver.

    Yes, getting it wrong may be “naivety” rather than dishonesty. But I don’t want naivety in my politicians, I want people who can plan in advance and are careful to have covered all reasonable possibilities.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Jan '11 - 12:35am


    No doubt they have paid a heavy political price for it. But they need to do a lot more in communicating better what is going on.

    Yes – the biggest mistake was not to have been more honest about the reality of the coalition. The line that SHOULD have been put is “This is basically a Conservative government over which we have a little influence. Obviously, a lot of what it’s doing is not what we would do if we had the majority, but we didn’t – the Conservatives won over five times as many seats as we did. So we’re letting this government go on, despite disagreeing with a lot of what it will do, because it’s what the people of this country voted for (bearing in mind both the Conservative and Labour Parties support the current electoral system because it twists the representation of the largest party up and of the third party down – that’s precisely why we have so little influence in this government), and also because the country needs a stable government, and our gurantee of support for this Conservativegovernment is the ony way it will get one given the election results. If you don’t like what this governemnt’s doing, vote for something else next time. If you’d like to see us have the influence our share of the vote should have given us, deamnd a proportional electoral system. Otherwise, we lost but we support the government that won – that’s democracy for you”.

    Instead, we put out the line that we were 100% in support of everything the coaltion was doing, and put out the line that we were hugely influential in it. The idea was that people would regard us as serious and respectable for this, and it would make our poll support go up. Well, it didn’t, did it?

  • Grammar Police 4th Jan '11 - 8:15am

    @ Matthew Huntback “Although the high initial poll level was put down to “Cleggmania”, it was actually at that level just BEFORE the first TV debate ”

    I’m not sure this is true at all (and it would have been pretty fantastical if it was).

  • @ Grammar Police
    Indeed, you are correct . “Cleggmania” was a press invention AFTER the first TV debate on April 15, 2010, when the Liberal Democrats’ poll level soared from around 19% on April 14 to 33% a few days later. A YouGov poll published in The Sun showed the party as the front runners, alongside the main front page story beginning “Voters last night rejected LibDems’ potty policies….” peppered with the usual.
    This is where Tony Dawson’s comment that ” The Lib Dems have never been seen to have a particularly effective media operation centrally” resonates: at this crucial point in the campaign they were nowhere to be seen!

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Jan '11 - 11:31pm

    Grammar Police, I stand by what I said (please spell my name correctly, by the way) – there were polls which showed a big increase in LibDem support just BEFORE the first TV debate. Given that the general election HAD to take place in summer, LibDem activists had put a lot of effort at that time into increased local publicity, quarterly Focuses had gone monthly, monthly Focuses gone weekly, prospective PPCs had started pounding out the press releases etc.

    The press was wrong to put ALL our increase down to “Cleggmania”, this needs to be said because once again the victors (Clegg in this case) will try to write history to their benefit (I’m finding it amusing to see the Liberal-SDP merger history being written wrongly for the second time, just as wrongly but now with the twist in the opposite direction). I ackowledged Clegg had something of a novelty effect – but I stand by what I say, I think people were put off when they saw his later performances did not live up to what the “Cleggmania” tag had painted him as. I think our party made a serious tactical mistake in letting that tag divert it from the sort of campaign that needed to be run.

    It is a FACT that our party did much worse than most of us expected, and I’m afraid we have not had the guts to really ask why, because the answer embarrasses us, or at least it embarrasses thoe at the top of our party. We did badly because, as ever, our party was lions led by donkeys. Unfortunately, the result is the donkeys got the spoils, and to this day they bray at us “own the coalition”.

  • @ George Kendall “However well our people rebutted the right-wing press, with limited funding and without sympathetic papers to push a helpful news agenda, the final week was always going to be tough.”
    Although this particular strand of the thread appears to be finished I don’t think this line of thinking augurs well for the party’s future campaigning prospects. The truth is that the strategy team allowed the bubble to burst: this was the first poll lead to be established since The Alliance’s 50% rating in 1982; moreover it was registered a fortnight rather than fifteen months before polling day.
    @ Matthew Huntbach
    Mark Pack’s comment by implication that Lib Dem support increased by a greater margin after rather than before the TV debate is factually correct. There are no polls to show otherwise.

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 AvatarAndy Hinton 24th Aug - 5:51pm
    Paul Barker is right; the true argument for HS2 is nothing to do with journey times or "bridging the north-south divide", it is about freeing...
  • User AvatarTom Harney 24th Aug - 5:50pm
    As far as I can see from the links provided the plans for an alternative to HS2 are simply lines on a map. How about...
  • User AvatarTom Harney 24th Aug - 5:29pm
    The poll accurately reflects the current position in the country in my opinion. To translate it into votes at a General Election requires resources. There...
  • User AvatarPeter Wrigley 24th Aug - 5:27pm
    Our MPs are not delegates but representatives. Their duty is to use their judgement and vote for whatever they understand to be the long term...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 24th Aug - 5:26pm
    Typo in my last paragraph - it should read "to put the first A50 on hold in a “temporary” way" - Sorry
  • User AvatarNonconformistradical 24th Aug - 5:25pm
    @Joseph Bourke "the Japanese, like the British, were city dwellers and had a similar seasonal climate to the UK, if a little hotter during the...
Sat 24th Aug 2019
Thu 29th Aug 2019
Mon 9th Sep 2019