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Can Clegg​ be forgiven?

Ross McKibbin: 5 May

2 June 2011
... we have no clear idea of what its future will be. The various elections that accompanied the anniversary didn’t help. By general consent the Lib Dems had most to worry about after the counting, NickClegg especially. It is hard to make confident judgments about the wisdom or otherwise of their decision to join the coalition, still less their subsequent performance, given the difficulty of their ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: Shuffling Off into Obscurity

4 May 2016
... has gone from being a full partner in government to having the same number of MPs as the Democratic Unionists, his leader is shell-shocked and barely able to appear in public without breaking down. Clegg is not the only one: there are lots of tear-stained farewells as the Lib Dems shuffle off into obscurity, unable to comprehend the scale of the disaster that has overtaken them. Enoch Powell said ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Radio 3’s ‘X Factor’

14 July 2011
... the people who can represent the hopes, the dreams, the aspirations of the British people,’ Ed Miliband – who every day in every way inexplicably tries to make himself as indistinguishable from NickClegg as possible – has said, speaking with resounding hollowness on behalf of his colleagues on both sides of the House of Commons. Of course ...

Progressive, like the 1980s

John Gray: Farewell Welfare State

21 October 2010
... Though few anticipated the agreement, it is not difficult to understand why David Cameron and NickClegg should have made a bargain to share power. By forming a coalition Cameron secured protection from his mutinous right wing, while Clegg became the pivotal player in British politics. What is more ...

Look…

David Runciman: How the coalition was formed

16 December 2010
22 Days in May: The Birth of the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition 
by David Laws.
Biteback, 335 pp., £9.99, November 2010, 978 1 84954 080 3
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... Michael Gove seemed a safer bet than with a Labour Party in which the Blairites like Adonis and Mandelson were on the way out, and Miliband Minor and Balls were taking over. During the negotiations, NickClegg, Chris Huhne, Danny Alexander and Laws, the core of the Lib Dem team that signed up with the Tories, behaved like good Blairites, a vanguard out of step with the wider party but resolved on ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Ed Balls

21 September 2016
... after a short interval (hours for Blair, five years for Major and Brown, with Cameron likely to follow suit) and party leaders quickly throwing in the towel after election defeats (Hague, Miliband, Clegg). The most recent generation of political leaders attained high office infinitely faster than their predecessors, serving no serious apprenticeship in Parliament or government, and their fall from ...

At the Crossroads

Bruce Ackerman: Electoral Reform

9 September 2010
... arrangements. 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 NickClegg 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 ...

Still Dithering

Norman Dombey: After Trident

16 December 2010
... On the eve of the 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, NickClegg told the conference that he opposed ‘a like-for-like Trident ...
22 October 2009
... the debt. There are probably two reasons Cameron and Osborne decided that the debt was the card to play. The first is that all three parties are debt repayers, however much they differ as to timing. NickClegg, in a truly bad address, actually promised ‘savage’ cuts: something not even Cameron was up to. And besides, whatever recent behaviour suggests, there is a widespread feeling in the country ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Clytemnestra du jour

21 February 2013
... Mycenaean. Agamemnon had bags of kingly authority and commanded the launch of a thousand ships. Huhne, on the other hand, was a hack on the Independent who later lost the Lib Dem leadership to NickClegg. (Apparently some postal votes didn’t turn up.) And so, going in search of someone with proper Greek chops and blood-dimmed eyes, we must be grateful to arrive at our Clytemnestra du jour, Mr Huhne ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Corbyn Surge

26 August 2015
... two years later when the parliamentary Conservative Party effectively staged a coup, installing Michael Howard as the sole candidate without consulting the membership. In 2007, Lib Dem members chose NickClegg over Chris Huhne as their leader by the narrowest of margins. Given that Huhne was to end up in jail in 2013 you might think this was the wise choice. But none of the voters (bar two) could ...

Thatcher, Thatcher, Thatcher

John Gray: The Tory Future

22 April 2010
The Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron 
by Tim Bale.
Polity, 446 pp., £25, January 2010, 978 0 7456 4857 6
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Back from the Brink: The Inside Story of the Tory Resurrection 
by Peter Snowdon.
Harper Press, 419 pp., £14.99, March 2010, 978 0 00 730725 8
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... that they had no coherent plan for dealing with the crisis. The problem facing all three parties is that they have framed policy on the basis that the post-Thatcher settlement was permanent. (Indeed NickClegg committed the Liberal Democrats to the settlement after its collapse had begun.) But neoliberal policies could be legitimated politically because they didn’t directly attack Britain’s ...

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 ...

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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... 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, NickClegg 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 it, you should be held to account ...

The Mess They’re In

Ross McKibbin: Labour’s Limited Options

20 October 2011
... responsibility 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. NickClegg 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 ...

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