18 Sep 2013

Nick Clegg: coalition forever


Nick Clegg‘s fundamental message was that coalition could and should be here for good. He described it as “now accepted as the norm.”

No other options are viable for the Lib Dems – the old talk about the confidence and supply approach doesn’t get a look in any more.

The Lib Dems know that would allow a propped up minority red or blue government to do an awful lot without having to go through parliament and they would be signed up or complicit but without influence.

There is no plan to sit out a parliament on the backbenches watching a minority government, though that could happen.

Mr Clegg’s convinced that the days when the other two parties could win majorities are over.

And he’s convinced that out there, hidden from current opinion polls, lurks a silent army of potential Lib Dem sympathisers – people who over the years have told canvassers they won’t vote Lib Dem because they never get into power and now have no such excuse … people who share his contempt for the old two party system … people who will allow his party to survive in good enough health to exploit a hung parliament.

He can’t, of course, really know whether these people were just being polite to the nice bearded man on their doorstep.

He won’t find this graphic from the Institute for Government too encouraging;


He criticises himself for not saying more earlier about the things Lib Dems had stopped the Tories doing in government – something many, including Vince Cable, had long criticised.

He makes up for it with a list of 15 policies to which he has said “no.”

But his real bile was reserved not for the Tories, like Mr Cable’s speech on Monday, but for the “tired,” “insular, petty, polarised,” abhorrent, “aggressive, us and them” politics of the “clapped out” two-party system.

Mr Clegg talked this afternoon about relishing the “unstuffy” and “anti-establishment” air of his party. He acknowledged the abuse and vitriol heaped on him and the party.

He talked about how he was brought up in a privileged family but taught not to take things for granted – does he know anyone from a privileged family who appears to take things for granted?

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