The knives are out for Nick Clegg, or perhaps it is the knaves.
He is a ‘traitor’, a ‘Judas’, a ‘man with no morals or integrity’. Many of these biblical appellations come from his own party members. The anger is palpable. A total of 51 Liberal-Democrat councillors have now resigned having decided that that a Liberal-Democrat presence on their local council is nowhere near as important as publicly registering their disgust – at what precisely?
It is a quite illogical stance. Every one of those councillors was elected on a Liberal-Democrat manifesto and once elected, discovered that they had to compromise, to work with Labour and Conservative councillors; to face the reality of their local council coffers, rather than abide by their electioneering wish list.
Had they won 100% majority on the council and were then theoretically in a position to keep every one of their ‘promises’ – they would still have been constrained by the state of the council bank balance.
Labour politicians don’t keep their election promises. Neither do Conservatives. Manifestos are not enforceable – nor should they be; they are written without the benefit of the knowledge that comes from gaining office, the dazzling light of reality.
Clegg is guilty of having reached a compromise from a position of weakness – he had no overall majority of votes. Neither did Labour. He kissed Cameron in the rose garden of Downing Street – and the true believers are never going to forgive him.
Should he have refused his seat in the Cabinet Office, any hope of softening the edges of the Tory government? Should he have remained forever the little boy shouting ‘Shan’t, won’t, you’re not my Dad’ from the back of the classroom?
Perhaps he should have formed a coalition with Labour? Would he have been able to keep his election manifesto then? Would Labour’s whip machinery have stood back and said ‘Little Nick promised not to raise university fees’ so we won’t.
Do the Liberal-Democrats who scream for his head on a platter really believe that? They are both fools and knaves if they do.
Much has been said on the subject of the Liberal-Democrats representing a new politics of honesty and principle, a fresh broom that would sweep clean through the Augean stables of Westminster – and possibly they would have been – had they won the election. They didn’t.
Liberal-Democrats have built an entire philosophy around the alleged ‘exclusion from power’, the unfair voting system that doesn’t accord them any chance of sitting in Cabinet – now they have one. The coalition is a Curate’s egg – both good and bad in parts; a compromise between the minority Lib-Dem ideology, the majority Conservative ideology, heavily tempered by the reality of the UKs precarious debt position. Quite why so many Lib-Dem councillors are under the impression that there was an alternative beats me. Should have got more votes in, shouldn’t they?
Enjoy Good Friday!