Friday 20 January 2012

The resuscitation of Nick Clegg

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.


  1. I think it's too early to speak of the "Resuscitation" of Nick Clegg. Liberals are pleased that finally he is promoting openly some Liberal views previously unexpressed or suppressed behind the omerta of collective responsibility. However, have the voters yet noticed that Liberal Democrats are not Conservatives ? Clearly the tail is not wagging the dog, but maybe the dog has stopped wagging the tail.

  2. 2012 is widely predicted to be the year when we officially go into double dip recession. In no small part this will be a result of the deflationary policies of this government. Jobs and the economy are what real people's votes will turn on. It is premature to speak of a revival of Nick Clegg and the party's fortunes until he shows he is trying to influence the government in the right direction on investment and growth. I don't think we can talk of the resuscitation of Nick Clegg yet but maybe we have started to remember where we put the defibrillator!

  3. Thanks for your comments. I agree with both. It will take a long time for voters to forget our broken pledge on student loans, and craven support of Osborne's economic policy, but like you, David, I think and hope the tide has turned. I like the analogy of the dog perhaps ceasing to wag the tail.

    There can be no doubt that whatever "triumphs" Liberal Democrats can achieve in the field of human rights, constitutional reform and so on, the nearest to the hearts of the voters is investment and growth which will create and sustain employment. That will be the hardest but, in terms of success in the next election, the most important, area in which to obtain a change of direction.