Thursday, July 30, 2009

Should Nick Clegg stop being Mr Angry?

Any comment on the performance of a Liberal Democrat leader at prime minister's questions has to be prefaced with a recognition of just how hard the job is. Faced with a noisy, hostile house, and without a dispatch box to lean nonchalantly upon or much protection from the Speaker, it is close to impossible to shine.

Vince Cable scores with his lugubrious humour, but then he is not treated with the same lack of respect.

All that said, I wonder whether Nick Clegg's weekly display of synthetic anger has not reached its sell-by date. You may say that there is a lot to be angry about, but I am not sure that this approach is showing Nick to his best advantage - too often he threatens to topple over into petulance.

Nor does this punctual anger chime with the sober approach and limited ambitions of A Fresh Start for Britain.

The Economist article I quoted from earlier this evening begins by making a similar point:
Iconoclasm does not come easily to nice and privileged men: this seemed to be a lesson of Nick Clegg’s early efforts as leader of the Liberal Democrats. Staged parliamentary walkouts and other attempts to distinguish himself from the Conservatives’ David Cameron, the other well-scrubbed young leader on the opposition benches, were mocked as the work of a rookie trying too hard.
But it goes on to suggest that "Mr Clegg’s righteous ire should now be an asset".

I wonder. More light and shade, and a little humour, might show Nick to better effect. Perhaps he should try a new approach when the next parliamentary season opens?

1 comment:

crewegwyn said...

I agree.

A "more in sorrow than in anger" tone would shine beside GB's "tractor production recitation" and DC's rather ineffectual "Mr Angry" Act.