Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Has anyone heard from Nick Clegg?

I got home about an hour ago expecting to find an email from Nick Clegg explaining why the parliamentary party voted in favour of secret courts.


There was an email from Sal Brinton urging me to come to Brighton for the Spring Conference, but nothing from Nick Clegg.

Like Paul Walter I am puzzled by his decision and want an explanation.

I am puzzled by the politics of this. What has been gained by adding civil libertarians to the list of people who feel that Nick Clegg has courted them and then let them down, I cannot imagine.

There is some suggestion that a deal has been done, trading Lib Dem support for secret courts for the Conservatives cutting back on the plans for competition in the NHS.

But that is puzzling too. If we Lib Dems were the kind of people who were relaxed about secret courts and determined to defend the status quo in the public sector we would have joined Labour long ago.

Unlike Paul, I am angry too. Not angry that the MPs went against a Conference decision - Conference does not always get it right and MPs must be free to exercise their judgement in the light of events.

But I am angry that they voted for secret courts at all. Opposition to such proposals should be hard-wired into every Liberal Democrat. Clearly, it is not.


Hywel said...

If that was the deal then it in effect means that we agreed to do something new so the Tories would do something they had already agreed to.

But your right - the total silence on this is bizarre - and that dates back months. Why not meet with Jo Shaw et al

James said...

"If that was the deal then it in effect means that we agreed to do something new so the Tories would do something they had already agreed to."

Which is itself something of a pattern. Remember, we passed the original Health Bill in part so that we could get House of Lords reform, which had been promised in the Coalition Agreement... and which we never got in the end!

This is the problem with 'split-the-difference' liberalism - once you're in Coalition, there's no end to the virtuous bargains which can be made to reach the mythical point of 'moderation'.

Anonymous said...

My guess: Nick Clegg actually wanted the party to back this, because he thought that otherwise the party would be vulnerable to the (completely bogus) accusation that it was being "soft on terrorism".

I wouldn't want to speculate about whether he realises the accusation would be bogus, or cares that it would be bogues, or whatever.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy this blog but I'm afraid you just don't get it. The Liberal Democrats have been hijacked by right-wing opportunists who just don't care about these issues. They now don't even bother to justify their betrayals. The party bears no relation to the party I stood for in the 2005 General Election.

Jonathan Calder said...

If you are claiming to be a former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate then the least you can do is give your name.

And please avoid Blairspeak like "you just don't get it". Does that even mean anything?

James Moore said...

Sorry Jonathan - nothing to hide - simply an oversight as typing quickly in my lunch hour.

James Moore - Candidate for Bosworth, Leicestershire in 2005. Councillor, Hinckley and Bosworth 2007-11, formerly a party member since 1987... you get the picture.

I am just surprised that Liberal Democrats who hold genuinely Liberal views are still surprised at the actions of Clegg and the party leadership. I don't think activists are prepared to recognise the changes that have taken place in the basic ideology of the party and seem to simply hope all will be well 'after the coalition'. How this will happen is anyone's guess as most senior figures on the left of the party are already compromised by the coalition experience or (at grass roots level) have left never to return. Sadly,those that might have offered an alternative voice (Evan Harris, John Leech, Paul Holmes et al) are either out of parliament or soon will be.