A commentator has noted that, whereas 2011 was the year of "get Nick Clegg" the media has now moved on and the 2012 target is to be Ed Miliband. The unjustified pillorying of any politician does little to enhance the quality of our political process and the attempts to undermine Ed Miliband are not to be welcomed (see previous post) but I am pleased that, for a while at least, Nick Clegg has moved out of the firing line.
This is well deserved. Already this year Nick has received a good press by articulating some well established Liberal Democrat policies and traditions. He was quick to deride the bizarre suggestion that public money should be spent on a new Royal Yacht, expressed promptly our opposition to another massive ariport, "Boris Island", in the south east, and has indicated that were Liberal Democrats the major partners in the coalition then the "Mansion Tax" would be implemented. Best of all, he has revived, to sympathetic hearing, the hallowed Liberal tradition of industrial democracy and profit sharing.
Both these last two ideas need refining. A "Mansion Tax" on homes valued at over £1m is clumsy. Additional higher council tax bands would be a better interim measure whilst plans for a land tax or site value rating were refined. (My letter to Vince Cable suggesting this has still received no reply.) The "John Lewis" model for industrial and commercial undertakings is certainly an improvement on the conventional limited company which, legally, is run solely in the interests of the shareholders (and in practice often in the interests of its managers) but there are better models for industrial partnerships, on which we Liberals made elaborate proposals in the 1960s. These should be dusted down and updated to adapt to modern conditions.
Still, it is good to see Nick flying the Liberal Democrat flag rather than acting as a junior apologist for the coalition. This is paying dividends, and long may it continue.