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Room 6 at the Moonstone

Adam Mars-Jones: Bill Clegg

5 November 2015
Did You Ever Have a Family 
by Bill Clegg.
Cape, 293 pp., £12.99, August 2015, 978 0 224 10235 3
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... BillClegg​ ’s novel starts with a bang, when an explosion destroys a house in a small Connecticut town and kills four people just before a wedding. The casualties are the bride and groom, the bride’s ...

At the Crossroads

Bruce Ackerman: Electoral Reform

9 September 2010
... All significantly limit the effective power of the cabinet to exercise plenary control over the country’s political destiny. But the new proposal for electoral reform, championed by Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, marks a turning point. It could well represent the death knell of parliamentary sovereignty. While the granting of quasi- and semi-sovereign powers to rival power centres ...

On the Coalition

LRB Contributors

10 June 2010
... would have been in power for another 13 years. Me: They were. Just called themselves New Labour. Tariq Ali Within a year or two we will remember the engagement interviews featuring Messrs Cameron and Clegg with the same fond disbelief that we now remember the wedding interviews with Charles and Diana. Or so my husband predicts. The real difference between then and now is that, in the present case, both ...
5 April 2012
... produces coalition or quasi-coalition governments set up after negotiations which assume the necessity of compromise and sacrifice. They came into the negotiations all too ready to make concessions. Clegg’s willingness to believe the best of the Tories, for instance, led him to accept the bargain by which the Tories secured the redistribution of parliamentary constituencies as part of the government ...

Still Dithering

Norman Dombey: After Trident

16 December 2010
... Liberal Democrat Party Conference in September the armed forces minister, Nick Harvey, a Lib Dem, told MPs that ‘the government had decided in principle to renew Trident.’ A few days later, Nick Clegg told the conference that he opposed ‘a like-for-like Trident replacement’ and suggested that ‘the money would be better spent on frontline military operations.’ Clegg described Trident as a ...

A Revision of Expectations

Richard Horton: Notes on the NHS

2 July 1998
The National Health Service: A Political History 
by Charles Webster.
Oxford, 233 pp., £9.99, April 1998, 0 19 289296 7
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... In retrospect, he seems to have achieved the impossible. He had to gather public support, pacify doctors, and – most troublesome of all – win the backing of a sceptical Cabinet. The NHS Bill received Royal Assent on 6 November 1946. The doctors, outraged at Bevan’s proposals, channelled their opposition through a profoundly reactionary BMA. Webster’s account of all this is sketchy ...

His Fucking Referendum

David Runciman: What Struck Cameron

10 October 2019
For the Record 
by David Cameron.
William Collins, 732 pp., £25, September, 978 0 00 823928 2
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... think very carefully about the future’ – made any difference. What does seem really to have helped was the pledge delivered by the three main Westminster party leaders – Cameron, Miliband and Clegg – to devolve more powers to Holyrood in the event of a ‘No’ vote and to wrap this up in a generous offer of future funding. Until that point, the focus of the ‘No’ campaign had been on the ...

Too Few to Mention

David Runciman: It Has to Happen

10 May 2018
How to Stop Brexit (and Make Britain Great Again) 
by Nick Clegg.
Bodley Head, 160 pp., £8.99, October 2017, 978 1 84792 523 7
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... not that they were wrong first time round, but that they were duped. It wasn’t a mistake to vote for Brexit, any more than it was to vote for Blair. It was a case of being misled. We were sold a bill of goods. In How to Stop Brexit, Nick Clegg puts his money on anger rather than regret. ‘There’s a fairly simple rule in politics,’ he writes. ‘If you make a promise and then fail to deliver ...
6 March 2014
In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government 
by Matthew D’Ancona.
Penguin, 414 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 670 91993 2
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... riddled with dispute, and on Rockingham’s death in the summer of 1782 the Foxites abandoned Shelburne’s new government, which itself imploded in the spring of 1783. As in 2010, when the Cameron-Clegg coalition was formed, it was the arithmetic in the House of Commons that largely dictated the options available. In 1783, Fox had 90 followers, Lord North 120 and Lord Shelburne 140, with a walk-on ...

The Mess They’re In

Ross McKibbin: Labour’s Limited Options

20 October 2011
... for coalition policies; and the non-ministerial MPs, who include the deputy leader, Simon Hughes, and various spokespeople, and who often act as though the coalition doesn’t exist. Nick Clegg has been an ineffective leader: he made a mess of the negotiations that led to the formation of the coalition, and a mess of the AV referendum (from which, however, he has ‘moved on’ with great ...

In Defence of Rights

Philippe Sands and Helena Kennedy

3 January 2013
... We were appointed to the Commission on a Bill of Rights in March 2011 by Nick Clegg. The circumstances were not auspicious, and we were concerned from the outset that our composition – all white, almost all male, almost all lawyers and London-based – would undermine our ability ...

High Taxes, Bad Times

John Pemble: Late Georgian Westminster

10 June 2010
The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1820-32 
by D.R. Fisher.
Cambridge, 6336 pp., £490, December 2009, 978 0 521 19314 6
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... to come across some flashy, sordid and even sinister characters, but on the whole there seem to have been a lot more unfortunates than miscreants. Times were changing. The Pains and Penalties Bill of 1820, which entailed a ‘trial’ of Queen Caroline on charges of adultery, was the last big outing of royal sleaze for several generations, and after her death the following year Caroline ...

They don’t even need ideas

William Davies: Take Nigel Farage ...

20 June 2019
... to be ordinary and inoffensive to the mainstream. The ‘cynically professionalised’ politics to which Gerbaudo refers include carefully staged displays of normality by figures such as Blair and Bill Clinton. The bland sight of the 2010 Cameron-Clegg identikit double act was perhaps the UK’s final sighting of this type of leadership. By contrast, in an age of limitless bandwidth and ubiquitous ...


Chris Mullin: A report from Westminster

25 June 2009
... he steps down at the next election.’ Indeed. 27 May. A bidding war has broken out between the parties, each leader striving to prove he is more in command than his rivals. Today the unctuous Nick Clegg is proposing that errant MPs be subject to instant recall – a recipe for tabloid rabble-rousing if ever there was. 28 May. To Symonds Yat, which overlooks a spectacular loop on the Wye, surely the ...

Justice eBay Style

Frederick Wilmot-Smith

26 September 2019
... cases appear in court via video link at some point in the process. But some uses of technology are questionable in principle. Before the general election of April 2017 stopped the Prisons and Courts Bill in its tracks, for example, the plan was to give individuals the option to plead guilty to crimes over the internet. Let’s not pretend there isn’t a difference between the click of a button and a ...

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