Will Nick Clegg be getting a knighthood at the weekend?

The papers are full of reports that The Cleggster is getting a knighthood in the New Year Honours. The right wing tabloids in particular are particularly enraged at this award for an “arch remainer.” The Mail even devotes a separate article to the question of whether Miriam Gonzalez Durantez will use the title “Lady Clegg” to give them another reason to remind readers of their twin obsessions with her being Spanish and not using what they refer to as her “married name.” The fact that she just has a name, not a married name, is lost on them as usual.

It’s much better for them, of course, to obsess on these things rather than her expertise on international and EU trade which leads her often to demolish the Government’s handling of Brexit as she did in this article in the Summer.

The best thing this government could do to appease the serious concerns of UK business leaders on Brexit is to rely on the business leaders themselves. This means no more toying with extravagant and ill-founded ideas. And it also means seeking an interim arrangement with the EU to continue benefiting from the single market and the customs union for as long as is needed until an alternative EU-UK deal is reached, as business leaders have proposed. This can be done by placing the UK into the European Economic Area on a temporary basis, and/or looking for an ad hoc arrangement extending the current status quo. Neither the extreme Brexiteers nor the extreme remainers like this option, but it is the only sensible thing to do right now. It allows the UK government to win time. And time is what the government needs – to get the skills it misses, to draft proposals it has not even started to draft yet and to negotiate with the serenity that the high economic interests at stake deserve.

An interim deal is the only way to deal with the ticking clock Michael Barnier hears because, as any trade negotiator knows, there is nothing worse than negotiating against time. Except for negotiating against time in pursuit of delusional and unrealistic ambitions.

But back to Nick. We won’t know if the knighthood story has any basis in fact, or is just something that the Brexiteer tabloids using to fill their pages in the post Christmas lull. 

If it is true, I for one will wish him well and not just because it would annoy Nigel Farage and co. I’m not much of a fan of political honours in principle, to be honest, and would rather that these ancient and privileges were replaced by something a bit more 21st century.

That said, although I intensely disagreed with many of the things that we agreed to in the coalition, I like and respect Nick as a person. I also see his political career as one in which he consistently fought for social mobility and better mental health treatment and his work on both fronts is commendable.

Did he get everything right? No, of course not. But he was dealt an exceptionally difficult hand. When in office his first priority was a tax cut for the lowest paid which David Cameron had specifically said was unaffordable. He particularly spoke up for the rights of women and girls in this country and internationally.

His sensible pro-EU and internationalist stance and his commitment to do all he can to stop this country being forced into a calamitous Brexit should resonate with Lib Dems.

A cursory glance at how the Tories have screwed over the country since we left Government shows what he stopped.

There is one slight irony, though. Nick has always been a critic of the establishment yet may be about to accept one of its highest accolades.  There were many occasions when he eschewed the sometimes ridiculous pomp and ritual that come with office. He refused to dress up in the fancy outfit for the state opening of Parliament, for example. I think he would acknowledge, though, that one of his biggest mistakes was sounding too establishment in that debate with Nigel Farage in 2014. When asked what the EU would look like in 10 years’ time, he replied that it would be pretty much the same. I get what was going through his mind. Farage and Co were putting about scare stories about how the EU was basically going to become this massive superstate and Nick was trying to counter that argument. He allowed himself to be painted in what seemed like an establishment corner, though.

Having said that, if accepting a knighthood gives him another opportunity to talk about how this country can get itself out of this mess, and presents the tabloids with another chance to remind everyone that he is the Brexiteers’ biggest nightmare, then I would welcome it if it happens.

Watch this space at 10pm on Friday night…

 

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

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102 Comments

  • “I intensely disagreed with many of the things that we agreed to in the coalition, I like and respect Nick as a person. ”

    Whereas I intensely AGREED with a number of things the Lib Dem leadership agreed to in the coalition and, though I find him rather likable as a person, I can not respect him at all for because of what he did to our Party. Especially since he was repeatedly warned as to what he was doing.

    I also do not see the evidence which Caron alludes of Nick Clegg being anti-establishment. Basically, once his foot went through the ministerial door, he clearly ‘went native.’ Unfortunately the downsides of this is that his insightful evidence about Britain in Europe is largely discounted by any other than the most detatched intellectuals.

    Perhaps more worrying than any talk about individuals is that people in our Party are still valuing this archaic system of patronage.

  • Dave Orbison 26th Dec '17 - 12:03pm

    Presumably it would be for service in politics? The Tories certainly have a lot to thank him for.

  • Sadly, I think that such honours have been devalued in recent years and have become a badge of political cronyism. This is a great pity because there are many ordinary people who deserve recognition for public service carried out away from the limelight.

    This party has been particularly guilty of spraying knighthoods amongst its less talented politicians and this is just yet another example.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 26th Dec '17 - 12:09pm

    Dave, if Labour had not been so truculent during the coalition years, there might have been a chance for a more reforming agenda, but they weren’t interested. Time for the left to accept responsibility for its own failures during the coalition years – tribal opposition rather than taking the opportunity of a hung Parliament to get stuff done.

  • Dave Orbison 26th Dec '17 - 12:55pm

    Caron you have no argument from me that Labour up to 2010 were far, far from perfect. I’m not so sure you could accurately call them ‘left’ as everyone was competing for the supposedly sacred ‘middle ground’.

    However, whatever Labour’s faults I do not believe that the Tories were in any way a better option. The long list of damage inflicted by the Coalition has been well documented and I do not accept the arguments that the LibDems made the Coalition a more caring Government than we would have had if the Tories had formed a minority Government.

    Still, as I say, the Tories are indebted to Nick Clegg for his support. The public, less so.

  • Caron Lindsay 26th Dec ’17 – 12:09pm…………Dave, if Labour had not been so truculent during the coalition years, there might have been a chance for a more reforming agenda, but they weren’t ….

    C’mon Caron, Labour made attempts to find common ground; it was we who were uninterested and truculent…

    A call for an ministerial enquiry into Hunt’s actions..rebuffed by Clegg
    A call for action on ‘bankers’ bonuses..rebuffed by Clegg..

    v

  • OnceALibDem 26th Dec '17 - 1:09pm

    “He refused to dress up in the fancy outfit for the state opening of Parliament, for example. ”

    What was this then?

  • I’m puzzled by Caron’s suggestion that a knighthood will give him more opportunity to speak out.

    How, exactly?

    Or is the lack of a knighthood the reason the media give so little coverage to Farage?

    On the main point, if the reports are true then it’s a terrible decision. By those making the appointment, and by Nick for accepting it.

  • nigel hunter 26th Dec '17 - 2:00pm

    If he accepts the honour the right wing press can label him as part of the establishment and give Farage and his ilk more ammo. to slag us off as just like the rest. The Tories will love him to accept as it will label him as one of us.

  • Helen Dudden 26th Dec '17 - 2:23pm

    I don’t feel a title gives you anything. I know there have been other political wives, that have not used a title given to there husbands. I personally feel, it is out dated. Didn’t Don Foster say something similar when he received his?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 26th Dec '17 - 3:02pm

    I would have preferred to dress up in the fancy outfits, happily accept the honours, and not done the things he did in coalition!

    Most senior politicians are knighted and several placemen and women too.

    I agree with honours but they should be special and reserved for special people or services, many post coalition , Alexander, Webb, undeserved.

  • Peter Martin 26th Dec '17 - 3:47pm

    @Caron,

    “…….tribal opposition {from Labour} rather than taking the opportunity of a hung Parliament to get stuff done.”

    Like what?

    Add in the number of Lib Dem MPs to the number of Tory MPs and there was no “hung Parliament”. The Coalition didn’t need Labour votes. They didn’t need to give Lab any kind of “opportunity” and they didn’t do that voluntarily. Why would they?

    That’s the way Parliament works. There was no complaint from anyone who understood that.

  • I don’t understand why any politician would accept a knighthood. What is the benefit of it? And I think it is a shame any of our politicians accepted them. However, I am very happy for business people and those in the performing arts to receive them. At least if someone has been defeated for the House of Commons being made a Life Peer gives them a role in the House of Lords. (Not that I am supporting an unelected second chamber or the failure of the Party for years and years to allow the membership to elect ALL of those appointed to be our Peers in the Lords.)

  • Is the plan for Nick to sit in the lords?
    This would be odd considering his Tweet only 6 months ago
    “Thanks for the kind petition to put me in the Lords, but I’m afraid an unelected chamber is not for me. Ermine just isn’t my thing.”
    Surely Nick would not have done a U-Turn so soon?????

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  • Nick Clegg as a former MEP, MP, Party Leader and Deputy Prime minister is more deserving then many of recognition in the New Years honours list.

    The problem remains, however, of the general loss of faith in politicians that has permeated the public sphere since the Iraq war, financial crisis and expenses scandals of recent years.

    The British Social Attitudes survey from 2014 notes under – How Britain feels about politicians – “Only 9% of us trust politicians either a great deal or a lot, compared to 58% who trust the police the same amount. One in five of us trusts governments of any party all or most of the time.”

    “Meanwhile, coalition government becoming a reality has not led to fondness – the amount of people who think a coalition government is best for Britain is down from 40% in 2010 to 28% – and much lower than its high of 50% in 1995. Meanwhile, only 27% want to change the voting system, down from 41% in 2010 and the lowest score since 1983.”

    Any survey that points to such dismal ratings for politicians, political parties, coalition government or changes in the voting system points to the need for radical improvement in the way political parties and Parliamentarians interface with the general public.

  • Well, that, if true, removes the last fragments of respect I feel for Clegg. He never understood that the big problem was (and is) that the Lib Dems as candidates pledged INDIVIDUALLY not to vote to increase Tuition Fees. He does not understand that hisd name stinks in the nostrils of many, and his advocacy for Remain strengthens the Euroseptics. He should retire from the public stage and go and do something useful.

  • It’s still premature – unless there’s been a leak to LDV (Watch out, Caron, they might just send in Bob Quick).

    But if it is true then I’m afraid it’s an empty gesture signifying nothing of substance other than the vanity of the recipient…….. And to think, we used to be regarded as a radical party.

    Oh dear……., it’s almost symptomatic of what the party has become….. a one trick pony with a fancy ribbon round it’s neck. We shouldn’t be joining the establishment we should be challenging it.

  • He also said when asked in the HOC back in 2012 by Dennis Skinner
    if he would take a seat in the Lords, Nick said:
    “No”, adding: “I personally will not take a seat in an unreformed House of Lords. It just sticks in the throat.

  • Knighthoods have being going down hill since the end of the Arthurian romances. They need to bring back armour, horses, shields, quests, and mystical water nymphs handing out swords. Coz really, it’s dead boring these days. Compare, the house of lords with the round table! There is no comparison!! I beseech you to end the threnody and cry Yea and thrice yea to proper knighthoods!!! Let magic reign once more !!!!

  • @Glenn

    Well they kept one tradition.

    The peasants back in the day where taxed highly in order for the knights to enjoy some fine dining.
    If only they would bring back the mace fights, i might not object so much lol

  • If Clegg has further thoughts on helping get the country out of the Brexit mess I suggest he write them down on a piece of paper and hand them to someone else in the party to announce: they’ll be better received universally.

  • Nick has been a great servant for the party and the country. When the country needed us we stood up to the plate. Yes we made some mistakes in government , but also did many really good things, which people who want to think differently choose to ignore completely. These people sound as if they have sour grapes. They wanted a failed and fractured Labour Party supported in 2010, and seem to want the momentum (militant tendency) Labour Party in power now! Liberal Democrats have done great things in government and in local government too (and continue to do so). Let’s get behind the party and continue to build our representation and challenge the discredited hard right Conservatives and hard left Labour Parties wherever they are!”

  • Paul D B 26th Dec ’17 – 8:06pm……………Nick has been a great servant for the party and the country. When the country needed us we stood up to the plate……….

    Arghhhhhhh!

  • Expats… you ain’t representative and not the only person who has ever been an expat either (I suppose you were?)

  • Expats… you ain’t representative.

  • Paul D B 26th Dec ’17 – 8:18pm….Expats… you ain’t representative…..

    And you are? Clegg managed to turn 57 MPs into 8…That takes some doing.

    Tell me, in opposition would we have supported NHS top-down re-organisation, tripling tuition fees, drastic cuts to disability/welfare, secret courts, bedroom tax, the list goes on..
    We either have beliefs and policies that we believe in or we are nothing…for five years we were the latter….

  • Dave Orbison 26th Dec '17 - 9:00pm

    Expats – totally agree. The ‘country needed us’ argument is one if the most self-serving pieces of self-aggrandising in modern politics. ‘Yes we made mistakes’ no kidding?

    The electorate have made their feelings clear about the LibDems in Coalition in two disastrous elections. Yet still some want to pick and choose over that record.

    They did not buy the ‘LibDems saved the nation’ line and perhaps it’s time LibDems accepted it. Nick Clegg may be a nice person but his political judgements over several years was as bad as it could get.

  • Expats, we do have beliefs and policies we believe in, and the increase in tax allowances, living wage, pupil premium, early years nursery provision, school meals, protection of human rights and rejection of the snoopers charter were all down to us in government. In opposition we would have got none of these things, just grumbled ineffectively. And remember the Labour Party introduced tuition fees and took us into the Iraq war. Did you you really want to align with that?

  • OnceALibDem 26th Dec '17 - 9:35pm

    I’m stil trying to get to the bottom of what outfit Nick was refusing to wear for the state opening of Parliament. I’m happy to be corrected but my recollection is of the MPs wearing everyday suits.

  • I’m afraid sadly I have to agree with Messrs Expats and Orbison. However nice, charming and intelligent Mr. Clegg may be, I say in sorrow his political judgement and choice of policies was seriously flawed. Enormous damage and hurt was done during his stewardship to many of the most vulnerable members of society. The vast majority of the British electorate – estimated at least 93% – plus those of us still hanging by a thread out of some form of misplaced loyalty – share that judgement.

    There is one last service he could do for the party, best summed up in a letter Prime Minister Attlee wrote to Harold Laski in 1946 : “I can assure you there is widespread resentment in the Party at your activities and a period of silence on your part would be welcome”.

    The hullabaloo created by accepting a knighthood would break that silence.

  • Whatever history’s verdict on Nick Clegg’s record as Lib Dem leader and DPM, isn’t it a bit Scrooge-like (particularly at this time of the year) to begrudge him his knighthood after losing his Sheffield seat in this year’s general election?

  • @ Yorkie Scrooge like ? Your sense of charity does you credit, Yorkie, but surely Scrooge like better describes the cutting of benefits, the bedroom tax, student fees, putting up VAT, the public sector pay freeze, the lengthening queues at foodbanks, exponential growth of homeless rough sleepers etc etc etc ?

  • Richard O'Neill 27th Dec '17 - 1:55am

    I don’t really get the argument that Knighthoods are being devalued. In Elizabethan times they used to toss them out like confetti. It was just an acknowledgement of being of a certain rank in society. They have no actual purpose (unlike the unelected Lords). There is no requirement that those granted Knighthoods are due any special respect from the public.

    That being so I can’t see what would be the issue if Clegg wants to take one. And if his wife doesn’t want to be Lady Clegg that’s up to her.

    This has presumably come from Cable who was himself given a Knighthood after losing his seat. So it’s hard to quibble with Clegg getting one without attacking Vince (and Ed Davey) into the bargain.

  • @ Expats

    “in opposition would we have supported NHS top-down re-organisation, tripling tuition fees, drastic cuts to disability/welfare, secret courts, bedroom tax, the list goes on..
    We either have beliefs and policies that we believe in or we are nothing”

    Indeed. The only policy I can think of which was truly Liberal was the scrapping of ID cards, but it was in the Conservative 2010 manifesto as well (page 79). The Pupil Premium was also a Conservative Party policy (page 53 of their 2010 manifesto). While I think increasing the Income Tax Personal Allowance is a good thing, we know it was not an unique liberal policy because the Conservatives have claimed it as their own.

    It is hard to see any policy that was uniquely Liberal that the Coalition government introduced that increased the freedom of every citizen, or reduced economic inequalities. I am sure such policies could have been developed and included in our 2010 manifesto. I hope they will appear in our 2022 manifesto.

  • Dave Orbison 27th Dec '17 - 6:24am

    Yorkie – it’s not that I begrudge it for Nick Clegg, it’s just that I don’t think his record should ‘earn’ him such recognition at all. The fact that he was Deputy PM or that he lost his seat is surely is a low bar as a justification.

    There are many who give lifelong service in the public sector who are dedicated and go the extra mile but who are never recognised. Then there is someone such as Kenny Dalglish with many supporting honours who showed great leadership and dignity over many years in support of the relatives affected by the Hillsborough tragedy. On top of which he has done an immense amount of work supporting charities. He is a true role model when many from football are anything but.

    Laying aside any football bias, I think, to suggest Nick Clegg should be knighted when compared to the likes of Dalglish and many more is just ludicrous.

  • Ronald Murray 27th Dec '17 - 8:17am

    I think giving Nick Clegg a knighthood is worth it to upset the Farage loving right wing groups Britain First, English Civil Defence & Britain United. I agree with Glenn regarding the honours system generally not fair above orders of the British Empire. Which honours a small number of the wee folk. In my forty years of working as an RNIB Volunteer and 23 as a member of Lions Clubs I have known many people worthy of an honour but got nothing. Knighthoods should not go generally to politicians just for doing their well paid superannuated jobs. Nick did very well when thecountry could have been without a government and Labour are incapable for working with anyone else.

  • OnceALibDem 27th Dec '17 - 8:38am

    ” So it’s hard to quibble with Clegg getting one without attacking Vince (and Ed Davey) into the bargain.”

    Well that’s easy. The Knighthoods awarded to Vince Cable, Ed Davey, Simon Hughes, Nick Harvey, Andrew Stunell, Bob Russell (is that the full list of coalition sirhoods?) are unmerited and undeserved. If anyone disagrees then feel free to set out the reasons why with reference to the comparative acheivements of people who get knighthoods outside of politics. And they also need to explain why Lib Dems were so critical of the knighhood awarded to Eric PIckles.

  • Helen Dudden 27th Dec '17 - 9:13am

    There should be reform in the Lords. A title in itself means little in modern times. No dragons, no rescuing damsels in distress, or knights of the round table.
    So what are the criteria for a knighthood? That would be a good question to ask.
    I would rather be respected for who I am, not by a title, but as a person who tries her best.

  • David Blake 27th Dec '17 - 9:28am

    I’ve not always agreed with Nick Clegg. His major problem during the coalition was that he forgot that he was Leader of the Liberal Democrats. But he deserves this honour much more than many other recipients.

  • Yorkie 26th Dec ’17 – 11:08pm………………..Whatever history’s verdict on Nick Clegg’s record as Lib Dem leader and DPM, isn’t it a bit Scrooge-like (particularly at this time of the year) to begrudge him his knighthood after losing his Sheffield seat in this year’s general election?…………….

    I trust you wrote that ‘tongue in cheek’…After all, a knighthood for failure would be an insult rather than a reward…

  • Helen Dudden 27th Dec '17 - 9:43am

    Politics is something I lost interest in several years ago, for that reason. There are many things that need changing in our society. If a title gives you something, then it’s up to the recipient. But I personally feel, it’s out dated, and should be changed for the future. Maybe, into a less political system, more into the legal status it has on new law. An independent voice for the people.

  • Richard Fagence 27th Dec '17 - 10:19am

    Dave Orbison’s comment (at 6.24 am) about the many who give lifelong service in the public sector could well be re-written in a party context without losing its relevance. In my opinion it is about time we started re-focusing our efforts on what needs to be done so that the dedicated don’t start “losing their religion” (acknowledgments to REM) and simply walk away from the party we have. Those who give up their time (and money) to attend conference, to help in by-elections, to serve on regional executives to run local party branches and to pay their subscriptions year in, year out, deserve better than what we have at the moment, a divided society with food banks, rough sleepers and young people with no homes of their own. You can give Nick Clegg any bauble you like, but it won’t change any of it. And I like the man!

  • I am still confused to the purpose of Nick getting a knighthood, is this the first step to him taking a Peerage and sitting in the house of Lords? if so that would be odd considering what he has previously said about the Lords.

    Is it to be granted the title of “Sir” and to use that title in order to talk more about Brexit.
    Does having a title make someone either,
    A) More likely to get air time
    or
    B) Does a title give them the appearance of Learned Superiority which would be listened to more

  • Pick C Smith BA 27th Dec '17 - 10:52am

    Nick Clegg has fully earned the grace and favour of his pending knighthood, as one of the mot talented and gifted Lib Dem Leaders in modern times and has demonstarted these skills when DPM in the Coalition 2010-15.

    The new `Sir Nick’ should that be the case should now be seen now at the fulcrum in a new national role in the Brexit debate -given his speaking 5 languages and has unimpeachable European credentials-as a leading UK Ambassador with the EU.The Tories and Labour pale into oblivion compared to Mr Clegg`s deep perceptive attachment to all relevant UK/EU issues in the monumental task in 2018-19 of forging the closest possible trading and human rights relations with our closest international neighbours.

  • matt 27th Dec ’17 – 10:25am………….Does having a title make someone either,
    A) More likely to get air time…or B) Does a title give them the appearance of Learned Superiority which would be listened to more………..

    Or C) gives a better chance of a table in a pretentious restaurant?

  • Peter Watson 27th Dec '17 - 11:03am

    “When in office his first priority was a tax cut for the lowest paid which David Cameron had specifically said was unaffordable.”
    It is good to see this honest statement rather than the usual claim that Cameron and the Tories opposed the tax cut. However, it begs the question, how was it afforded?
    In the 2010 manifesto this policy was matched with “Paid for in full by closing loopholes that unfairly benefit the wealthy and polluters”. If that was not how it was paid for, then which of the cuts or lack of investment should the Lib Dems claim as their own rather than blame the Tories?

  • Peter Watson 27th Dec '17 - 11:11am

    @Paul D B “we do have beliefs and policies we believe in … school meals”
    Poor example (if you mean universal free school meals).
    Lib Dems opposed this idea from Labour before Nick Clegg’s surprise announcement at Conference. It looked like a bribe to middle-class voters (is that the sort of “beliefs and policies” you mean?), appeared to be a quid pro quo for Cameron’s promised married couples’ tax allowance (also previously opposed by Lib Dems), and despite Lib Dem claims to be the party of evidence-driven policy, other investments of £500 million p.a. offered better educational returns.

  • David Franks 27th Dec '17 - 11:28am

    I just wish someone could find a way to shut Clegg up. Every time he gets media coverage it just reminds everyone of his dreadful record during the coalition years. As thousands of hard working councillors lost their seats he refused to see what damage he was doing. He refused to listen to advice from hundreds in the Party who have experience of working with other parties. He should give up high profile public activites and quietly get on with something useful

  • @expats

    Do you mind, you just made me choke on my sausage roll.

    That was the funnies thing I read all Xmas, someone really needs to put that in a cracker lol

  • Peter Watson 27th Dec '17 - 11:32am

    @OnceALibDem “I’m stil trying to get to the bottom of what outfit Nick was refusing to wear …”
    I recall John Bercow refusing to wear the traditional outfit (including stockings) for the state opening of Parliament when he became Speaker. Perhaps the article is confusing Nick Clegg with a former Tory MP? 😉

  • I’d rather he was free to wander the country doing what he can to reverse the disastrous path this country is treading. Accepting a knighthood looks like toeing the line and accepting his fate. It his still his to write.

  • The award must be for ruining the Liberal Democrats as a political force. Keep reminding me how many MPs, Councillors and MEPS lost their elected positions because of his appalling misjudgements and failing to accept the warning calls of ourselves during that time. I wish he would just quietley go away.

  • Laurence Cox 27th Dec '17 - 12:35pm

    Clegg should have paid heed to what Stanley Baldwin said when he stood down as Prime Minister in 1937: ‘I promise not to spit on the deck or speak to the man at the wheel.’ Once the voters of Sheffield Hallam had rejected him (though his replacement was far, far worse), Clegg should have started a new career; even a politician who suffered as much disgrace as Profumo, sucessfully redeemed himself through his charity work.

  • This article in the Guardian makes ‘sobering’ reading….”Lib Dems ‘facing fight for political future’ in 2018″…

    Clegg’s legacy?

  • Steve Trevethan 27th Dec '17 - 1:43pm

    Kennedy on Iraq? Clegg on Libya?

  • @ Pick C Smith

    “Nick Clegg … as one of the mot talented and gifted Lib Dem Leaders in modern times and has demonstarted these skills when DPM in the Coalition 2010-15” (sic).

    I am surprised anyone can hold this view. He was not responsible for the conditions which enabled us to enter government. I don’t recall anything he did as a minister which was outstanding. I remember him being a particularly bad leader of the party who refused to listen to the party and party members who had experience of working in coalitions or joint administrations. His performance when debating with Nigel Farage was poor or worse than poor. His political judgment was poor.

    @ Paul D B

    The Coalition Government did not introduce the National Living Wage in was the 2015-16 government. Until Nick Clegg did his deal with David Cameron, that in return for a Conservative policy – tax cuts for married people, he would get free school meals for under 7’s, it wasn’t party policy!

  • Michael BG, apologies. It was a significant increase in the minimum wage (the announcement of which was nicked bt the Tories) rather than the living wage, I was referring to.

    It does strick me that if some “Liberal Democrats” expended half the energy looking outward rather than criticizing our own it might be more constructive. It might be a good way to start 2018.

  • Christopher Haigh 27th Dec '17 - 4:53pm

    Clegg helped rehabilitate the Tories, the traditional wreckers of the UK economy, resulting in the unspeakably worst UK political event of my life, the EU referendum. In his defence Nick did water down the calls of other leading figures in the party for an in out referendum. He suggested such a poll only on further constitutional change. I am sure the absurdities of this coalition period would not have happened under the continued leadership of Charles Kennedy. However the membership voted Clegg in and as such knowingly changed the character of the party so now cannot reasonably complain about what happened under his leadership.

  • nvelope2003 27th Dec '17 - 5:39pm

    Who cares ?

  • Paul Pettinger 27th Dec '17 - 5:47pm

    Clegg campaigned for and helped mainstream the idea of holding the in out referendum (https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2008/feb/25/eu.liberaldemocrats). If only he hadn’t conceladed his desire to marketise public services, significantly reduce the size of the state and to work with the Tories as he wouldn’t then have been elected Leader in 2007

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Dec '17 - 5:58pm

    I tend to agree with Paul D B on this, particularly your second paragraph, Paul. I refuse to join in again with the debate about the Coalition which has been going on for more than two years. As for the knighthood (which has nothing to do with the House of Lords, Matt), it just seems if it goes to him a formal recognition that he has held an important position in our political life. I hope that, with his unrivalled knowledge and experience, he continues to influence the Brexit debate as we wish, and that he may then find some European or international post where he can be useful and fulfilled.

  • nvelope2003 27th Dec '17 - 6:12pm

    The large number of posts on this matter is indicative of the sad state of the British Liberal Party. Raking up the past will only help its enemies. Maybe that is what many of them intend ?

  • @Katharine Pindar
    “As for the knighthood (which has nothing to do with the House of Lords, Matt),”

    Yes, I realised my mistake in my first post, I addressed it in later posts asking whether this Knighthood was a stepping stone to getting a peerage later on to sit in the lords.
    After all that Nick has said about the Lords and Honours system in the past, I was trying to make sense of it and why he would accept this, if it turns out to be true.

    ” I hope that, with his unrivalled knowledge and experience, he continues to influence the Brexit debate as we wish”
    Unrivalled? really? Continue to influence the brexit debate as we wish, this is the man who had the most disastrous brexit debate ever with Farage and when asked how he saw the EU in 10 years time, his response was, pretty much the same.
    I am sorry Katharine, but Nick Clegg was probably the biggest gift to Brexiters and drove hundreds of thousands to vote leave.
    If you really want Nick Clegg to lead the ongoing debate for you and a 2nd referendum, then, oh my day’s, I really don’t know what else to say lol

  • Peter Watson 27th Dec '17 - 6:30pm

    @matt “Nick Clegg was probably the biggest gift to Brexiters”
    He was also the biggest gift to his opponents in the AV referendum. I never understood how even after that, the party continued (continues?) to have such a blind spot for the electoral liability that Nick Clegg had become.

  • Peter Watson 27th Dec '17 - 6:36pm

    @nvelope2003 “Raking up the past will only help its enemies. Maybe that is what many of them intend ?”
    I’m sure that is not what Caron intended when she raked up the past in this article.

  • Dave Orbison 27th Dec '17 - 6:43pm

    Paul DB and Katherine- it’s all very well saying the LibDems should look outward not inward and put the Coalition years behind you. The problem is, out there, outside of LibDems discussion groups and clubs, the overwhelming majority of voters have a negative view of the LibDems in the Coalition.

    Even after two disastrous elections and many lost councillors there are still some LibDems who refuse to accept this let alone apologise for the many mistakes made. How do you expect to win trust back if you adopt the ‘head in sand’ approach?

    I see The Guardian today raises the question of the LibDems very survival.

    But by all means dismiss the polls, close your ears to fellow LibDems and all hail the mighty Nick Clegg . Apparently wherever he goes, you’d have us believe, we are all willing to follow.

    Really?

  • @ Paul D B

    The Minimum Wage was increased in October as follows:
    2010 13 pence 2.24%
    2011 15 pence 2.52%
    2012 11 pence 1.809%
    2013 12 pence 1.94%
    2014 19 pence 3.01%

    I don’t see any significant increase! I did write to the government during a consultation exercise suggesting that they should increase the Minimum Wage significantly. I wonder if George Osborne read it and if it helped persuade him to bring in the Living National Wage after the 2015 general election. Perhaps you are thinking of something else – Income Tax Personal Allowance perhaps?

    I am happy to discuss having radical polices which we can present to the electorate, which will increase freedom especially for the poorest in society and reduce economic inequalities. However, we all need to recognise how our role in the Coalition government didn’t make the UK a better place to live in. Of course it is likely it would have been even worse if the Conservative had had a majority in 2010. But slowing down the Conservatives is not making the UK a Liberal Society.

    @ Christopher Haigh

    “However the membership voted Clegg in and as such knowingly changed the character of the party so now cannot reasonably complain about what happened under his leadership.”

    Firstly, if the votes which arrived late in the 2007 leadership election had been included a majority would have voted for Chris Huhne.

    Secondly, Nick Clegg did not set out how he wanted to change the policies of the party. Wikipedia found nuclear disarmament as the only policy difference!

    We must never forget that we ditched our economy policy as set out in our 2010 manifesto to go into government with the Conservatives and this change to our position was a factor in us not getting a deal with Labour (among lots of others).

  • Neil Hickman 27th Dec '17 - 7:30pm

    It makes me very sad to say this, but I frankly cannot see a way back for the Lib Dems.
    I was a Liberal in the early 1970s, and sadly, I think the party’s position is in truth a great deal weaker than that of the Liberals in 1970.
    Fundamentally the problem remains, and will continue to remain, the 2010 Coalition.
    For fifty years since the days of Jo Grimond the Liberal Party and later the SDP and the Lib Dems had carved out a niche as a party of the centre-left. If the Lib Dems had to go into coalition with the Conservatives, it was essential that, in public at least, they were kept at arm’s length. Instead we had Clegg telling Cameron at the Rose Garden love-in that the difficulty was going to be finding things on which that parties disagreed. This, for goodness’ sake, is the party which actually calls its back-bench party “The ‘This is the year we stiffed the Liberals’ Committee”. A bit of a clue, to anyone who isn’t historically illiterate.
    Vince Cable as much as anyone then went along with the Osborne-orchestrated lie that the crash was due to Labour profligacy rather than the activities of the banks. Before you go any further, you have successfully alienated half your vote.
    The structure of the coalition, under which the Conservatives with 36% took all the great offices of state and the Lib Dems with 23% were allowed a meaningless sinecure for Nick Clegg, was a humiliating nonsense. You have someone who has Dutch and Russian ancestry, is married to a Spaniard, has experience of working in Europe and is fluent in five languages. And who do you appoint as Foreign Secretary? William Hague.
    The economic policy to which the Lib Dems gleefully signed up (and I say “gleefully” remembering the whoops of laughter from Clegg and chums during all the nastier bits of Osborne’s budget) was completely at odds with that on which they had fought the election.
    After all of that, the Lib Dems had the opportunity to paint themselves as the saviours of the NHS by derailing Lansley’s top-down reorganisation. And after a prolonged pause, they bottled it.
    And don’t even get me started on the AV referendum, let alone the debacle of tuition fees.
    Within three years of the 1970 disaster, the Liberals were winning by-elections all over the place. Within two years of the 2015 disaster, the LibDems were losing vote share.
    Sorry, but I do not see any way back. Please, someone, persuade me that I’m wrong.

  • Helen Dudden 27th Dec '17 - 8:02pm

    The comments on the terrible problem of homeless young people 8 comments. The comments keep coming on the new years honours list, and Nick Clegg raise more interest. How does that work out?

  • Helen Dudden 27th Dec '17 - 10:12pm

    I understand. But of course, I find this issue of homeless young people so upsetting. Until there is unity on the need to move forward, nothing changes.

  • Katharine Pindar 27th Dec '17 - 10:58pm

    We are a bit of an echo-chamber here, aren’t we? So we have someone as sensible as Tim13 reiterating that our Parliamentary party needs to acknowledge the mistakes of the Coalition period to be taken seriously by voters. When exactly would you want them to do that, Tim? Are you agreeing with others that that must come before pointing out the genuine achievements of Lib Dem ministers in the Coalition? But I don’t want an answer, it doesn’t matter to me.

    I think you do make an important point about our too limited defence of local government financing and therefore spending on services. I would like to hear more about what changes we think should be made, regarding council tax, as the increases now to be allowed will hit the poorest even harder from April. How would land value taxation, as advocated by ALTER, affect this question?

    I should really rather read some discussion of this than anything about contrition – wear sackcloth and ashes in Lent if you like – but I believe that most ordinary people are willing to see some good in us again, not least in our consistent opposition to Brexit, but also because they know we meant well but were naive in going into Coalition with the Tories, who ate us up. That is just my belief, which could be wrong of course, but again, we will see in due course, so please let us rather discuss ways of progressing.

  • Universal Credit could leave claimants homeless … – The Independent
    http://www.independent.co.uk › News › UK › UK Politics
    9 Oct 2017 – The government has been warned that continuing with its rollout of the new Universal Credit benefits system risks plunging claimants into hunger, destitution or even homelessness over Christmas

    We had a joint responsibility for the introduction of Universal Credit – the then Lib Dem Minister now rejoices in a knighthood and is a director of a major insurance company.

    The introduction of UC in my area has made many private landlords to refuse to rent to claimants – and of course the homeless with no fixed address find it virtually impossible to obtain UC.

    Until there is a public acknowledgement by the party leader of these unpalatable errors and mistakes the glass ceiling of 7% support will never be breached.

  • An article from the Spectator

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/10/dont-blame-iain-duncan-smith-for-the-universal-credit-tragedy-blame-george-osborne/

    If you can make it past the headline, it’s an interesting read. I actually agree with the conclusion

    “Now more than ever, with Corbyn in the wings, the Tories are vulnerable to the old insults: that they’re just in it for themselves; that they’ll stiff the poor if they can. If they don’t repair universal credit, I’m afraid they’ll deserve every one of them.”

    For the avoidance of doubt I’m not expecting them to repair it, it isn’t in their nature. A pity our previous leadership never grasped that bit of Tory nature.

  • I just do not see how Nick could take this accolade without his credibility taking a further nose dive, which in turn has a drag on effect for the party.
    What exactly is this accolade for? It can’t surely be for his role as minister for constitutional and political reform could it? the only thing he achieved in his role was fixed terms parliament act, everything else was a disaster. Right to recall, AV, House of Lords, has there ever been a minister who spent 5 years in a job and got none of his policies through?
    I am sure that Nick is a lovely man and all, but at the end of the day he was just not very good at politics, he was out gunned, out played and out manoeuvred by Tories from the very start. The Tories knew exactly what they were going when they agreed to the roles to be handed out to Libdems
    Vince would see his department rolling out tuition fee’s and him defending the policy and almost abstaining on it.
    Chris Huhne with dept energy, ditched one of their most distinctive election pledges to approve a new generation of nuclear power stations
    and then there was good old Danny Alexander in the treasury to be the nodding boy Osbourn and justify all the cuts
    What the Tories did by agreeing to these positions was to destroy the very things that gave the Liberal Democrats their identity at the election.
    Tuition Fee’s , Nuclear Power, limited Austerity Cuts and Constitutional reform

    Everybody then feels betrayed by Nicks No more broken promises speeches and party political broadcasts.

    It was a political master piece by the Tories on how to destroy the enemy from within..

  • Dave Orbison 27th Dec '17 - 11:57pm

    Matt – Fixed term Parliaments? Ah yes, a triumph for Nick Clegg. Oh wait an in election in 2017 just 2 years after the last. Wow, give that man a knighthood.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Dec '17 - 12:28am

    There re some here seem to imagine all the troubles of this country stated under the coalition.

    Others thinking it fine to be cheering on awards for those already overrewarded.

    Get a grip and see those trying to make an impact in society , the party, and under your noses !

    Clegg is history as far as this movement or country,s public affairs.

    This party with much need for people to emerge needs to stipulate it is us , not Nick, who should be silent, about him!

  • George Flaxman 28th Dec '17 - 1:40am

    Anything that enrages Brexiteers gets my whole-hearted approval. Arise Sir Nick and kick ’em where it hurts.

  • George Flaxman 28th Dec '17 - 1:45am

    Who needs enemies, while we have friends like some of those here.

  • @ Neil Hickman

    Our general election performances in 2015 and 2017 were much worse than our performance in 1970 when we lost 6 seats and only had 7.5% of the vote. Our vote share was based on only fighting 332 of the 630 seats. Also it seems Jeremy Thorpe had problems raising his profile with the electorate during the campaign. I don’t know what our Council base was like in 1970. The only figure I could find was 1427 councillors in 1973. I think we have about 1900 councillors at the moment.

    In the 1970’s the Liberal Party had a greater level of general support and people were willing to consider voting for it. We have a much lower level of general support and I don’t think many people are willing to consider voting for us in a general election. So I think Neil you may be correct the situation now is worse than it was in 1970.

    One of our problems is that we alienated the groups from which we had large numbers of supporters – students, people with degrees, teachers, and those working in the public services.

    To start the process of gaining support among these groups we need to recognise that increasing tuition fees was wrong, and we didn’t treat civil servants and public servants fairly during the Coalition government. We need to reject student tuition fees and promise to replace them with a true graduate tax and we need to not only reject the cap on public sector pay (done in the 2017 manifesto) but actually state how we would improve working conditions for these workers. We could also commit ourselves to providing at least £15 billion a year to build 150,000 council and housing association homes each year.

  • Peter Watson 28th Dec '17 - 10:08am

    George Flaxman “Anything that enrages Brexiteers gets my whole-hearted approval. Arise Sir Nick and kick ’em where it hurts.”
    Enraging Brexiteers instead of engaging with them is one of the things that got us into this mess in the first place (It is great – but years too late – to see an LDV article elsewhere link Brexit with tackling inequality).
    Putting “Sir” in front does not change all of the baggage carried by the name “Nick Clegg” and it could backfire by giving Brexiters another establishment figure against which to rally while making Remainers despair at yet another misstep by their campaign.

  • Peter Watson 28th Dec '17 - 10:12am

    Minor edit to my last post: makes a bit more sense to refer to an LDV article (https://www.libdemvoice.org/why-you-shouldnt-believe-everything-you-read-in-the-newspapers-about-the-lib-dems-56221.html) which links opposing Brexit to tackling inequality.

  • In 1970 there were still people alive who remembered a Liberal Government and had always voted Liberal but even then many Liberal candidates lost their deposits while in other areas, such as the South West the party polled quite well. If the party had contested all the seats I doubt that it would have polled 2 x 7.5 % or even 12%. In February 1974 with 517 candidates the party polled 19.3% and in most constituencies which had not been subject to major changes the average vote per Liberal candidate rose by about 12% but in places like Hereford it rose by 21.7%

    I doubt if many voters were aware of the Lloyd George coalition with the Conservatives in 1918 or the Liberal support for Labour Governments in 1924 and 1929 or even what the Liberal party’s policies actually were. They were either bored or fed up with the perpetual sense of economic crisis at the time and the fact that despite promises to the contrary the Labour Governments had generally been forced by circumstances to adopt similar policies to the Conservatives – sounds familiar ?
    We now have a Labour Party which promises a radical change from previous Labour Governments and the adoption of the sort of policies which are being implemented in Venezuela which very few people have any knowledge of or interest in.

    Why would they vote for a Liberal Democrat party which has 12 MPs and 7.4% of the vote and which is not promising any radical change from the past but seems very keen to maintain our membership of the EU and all the other policies which many people think are the cause of their own problems such as comprehensive schools, tuition fees etc. Liberal Democrats look like a hangover from a failed past and Liberalism is blamed for things like tolerating criminal activities, drug issues etc
    It is possible that the party is finished as a parliamentary force but could continue as aforce in local government. However, Corbyn might not win the next election and if he did he might face the same problems as his predecessors like Harold Wilson did so who can predict what will happen then ?

  • Steve Trevethan 28th Dec '17 - 10:38am

    Might these comments, when taken as a group, suggest that we need to develop more efficient structural connections between our MPs, our party as an institution and our members?

  • What does give me hope, is the tone of the comments. i detect very little desire to follow the Orange Book. It appears to have had it’s day (and much damage it did us), but the Orange Bookers seem to have gone or at least ceased to push that agenda (long may that be the case).

  • Katharine Pindar 28th Dec '17 - 1:43pm

    Just a point on Universal Credit. In September at the Federal Conference we passed an emergency motion on its implementation. This reiterated our support for the principles behind the policy, of simplifying the social security system, improving work incentives, increasing take-up, tackling poverty and reducing fraud and error, before going on to note criticisms of its detailed design and implementation under the Conservatives passed in the 2016 Conference and expressed in the 2017 Election Manifesto. The 2017 Conference motion then details the waiting times for receiving the Credit and calls for the Government to pause the planned accelerated roll-out, remove the seven waiting days at the start of a claim, make the helpline free of charge and put a comprehensive support package in place before the roll-out.

    The policy motion then reiterated support for more substantial reform, including reversing the Government’s cuts to the amount claimants can earn – the ‘work allowance’ – before their benefits are reduced, introducing a second work allowance to let both members of a couple work without losing their benefits, restoring the first-child premium for new claimants, abandoning the restriction of benefits to just two children, and abandoning the freeze on working-age benefits.

    Our Parliamentarians do what they can to secure these reforms, though there must be much more to do. The freeze on housing benefit must surely be one of the major new causes of working people being disastrously unable to afford private rents and losing their homes. The long wait there has been for people to receive their first payment from Universal Credit has been another cause of that calamity, but the Liberal Democrats have had no responsibility for that, and have worked for its reversal.

  • Does the lack of a denial not confirm that this horror story is accurate? I understand you can’t confirm you are going to get the Captain’s All Day Sucker award, but surely if it isn’t true a denial would be sensible.

  • Peter Watson 28th Dec '17 - 7:31pm
  • Katharine Pindar 28th Dec '17 - 8:23pm

    Well, that’s pretty depressing, Peter. But at the end of the day – as they say – I don’t think it matters whether he gets the award or not, because these ‘honours’ aren’t much recognised or thought much of in our national life. Knights and Lords and Ladies crop up, you come across them often, are pleased if it’s someone you like or admire, are bemused or indifferent otherwise, and at any rate are no longer expected to bow or curtsey to them.

  • Frankie – that’s exactly what I think on the OBs and like you I just hope they’ve had their day as their market forces dogma alienated many members. What is proving more difficult is for people to see beyond it as the media and social media snipers continually attack the Lib Dems on tuition fees, the abolition of the AWB etc.

  • John Barrett 28th Dec '17 - 10:45pm

    If we are ever to move forward and inspire the British public again, we must make specific early moves away from what is “the establishment” including the present honours system and continually stuffing the House of Lords with failed politicians, donors or the leader’s pals – and them making them Lib-Dem party spokesmen once again.

    Owen Jones comments on this are worth a second mention. Even if you don’t agree with them all, he makes several worthwhile points about what unfolded on Mr Clegg’s watch.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/28/knighthood-nick-clegg-george-osborne-britain-elite

  • Patrick B,

    We live in hope, let us hope we don’t die in despair.As to tuition fees, that to will pass; it will pass a lot quicker if they can come up with a policy then can push.

  • Peter Watson 28th Dec '17 - 11:23pm

    @frankie “the Orange Bookers seem to have gone”
    Or perhaps they have just gone skiing …

  • Another reason I won’t be rejoining the party.

  • Malcolm Todd 30th Dec '17 - 12:15am

    So, it turns out to be true. The man’s complete absence of political judgement at least remains consistent. (I’m adopting the most charitable interpretation possible.)

  • David Evans 30th Dec '17 - 9:12am

    So it has happened. “For political and public service to the Conservative party in the near destruction of the Liberal Democrats and the consequent ensuring of Brexit.”

  • David Evans 30th Dec '17 - 9:34am

    The problem is Ian, that we needed lots more people like you in the party to oppose NIck when he was leader, and we need people like you now to make sure it remains relevant.

    Otherwise it will continue to drift back along a path to the inconsequentiality of a party with no more reason to exist than to earnestly discuss fringe issues and reminisce on the good old days when we did a bit in government to slow the Conservatives for a few years in their mission to trash our country.

  • I think Charlton Heston put it best, “You finally really did it.,etc”

  • I don’t see Cable as the architect of orange booker thinking, that was more Clegg, Laws, Alexander and Brown. Cable distanced himself from it a bit, not as much as Tim Farron but he didn’t wholeheartedly embrace it. Read what he said about Murdoch at the time.

  • Simon Banks 7th Jan '18 - 5:55pm

    Why does anyone need a title to recognise the work they’ve done? Does a retiring local party officer or teacher or lorry driver feel, “I did a good job conscientiously, but something is missing unless I have a title of distinction”?

    Even if such titles weren’t often doled out to reward vain people for giving a lot of money, they would be pointless distinctions. I don’t see how being Sir Nick could get N Clegg any more attention for his views, unlike being Lord Clegg.

    Lady Clegg? Last of the Summer Wine’s equivalent of Mrs Mainwaring.

  • Peter Watson 7th Jan '18 - 6:07pm

    @Simon Banks “I don’t see how being Sir Nick could get N Clegg any more attention for his views, unlike being Lord Clegg.”
    Being referred to as Sir Nicholas Clegg might give the impression of authority while simultaneously helping voters forget who he is: win-win! 😉

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