Thursday, May 29, 2014

Nick Clegg and his straw men appear to have learnt nothing

Judging by this briefing to Nick Robinson, at any rate. Robinson says that Clegg
believes that the party must "stop looking in the rear view mirror" - in other words stop mourning the voters they've lost as a result of forming a coalition with the Tories. 
They need instead, he argues, to look forward to the voters they can gain by proving that they are a serious party of government with responsible economic policies.
Nick Clegg, or whoever it was from his office who briefed Nick Robinson, is merely repeating a line from his speech to the party's 2012 spring conference. There is no sign of a willingness to listen or of new thinking.

In fact, this is pretty much the only argument that Clegg has against his party critics, which is perhaps why he uses it so often.

As Simon Titley wrote on Liberator's blog in July 2013:
In May, I posted here about Clegg’s statement after the local elections and his speech to last September’s party conference. On both occasions, he said that his way is the only way; anyone who disagrees is simply not interested in winning power. His way is the future; anyone who disagrees wants a return to the past. 
He referred to the Liberal Democrats as having been a “party of protest” before he took charge. He travestied party members as people who want to “turn back” and create a “stop the world I want to get off” party. He warned them to “stop looking in the rear view mirror”. 
In his speech at the ALDC conference in Manchester last Saturday, he repeated similar arguments. He scorned party members who want to “turn back the clock” and be “the third party forever”, who are calling for “an eternity in opposition” and “hankering for the comfort blanket of national opposition”. 
These are straw men. We know this because in none of these attacks does Clegg ever name his critics or supply specific references to the speeches or writings where they have expressed such views. These imaginary enemies are conjured up because Clegg needs a ‘defining other’, a pantomime villain against whom he can contrast his virtues.
If Nick is determined to go on using this tactic, it makes James Gurling and his review look pretty silly, doesn't it?
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Phil Beesley said...

During my life time, I have observed that about 10% of the population are natural liberals. They normally vote for the liberal party, whatever it is called.

When the liberal vote falls below 10%, I am aghast. We cannot be less liberal to appeal for votes, because that is false, so we have to act liberally forward.

But what if I was wrong and pessimistic? More than 10% innate liberals?

Unknown said...

Which is why the review is incredibly important. There are very credible, decent campaigners on it and they need to be persuaded that certain lines need to be dropped from a great height. So I'd say to everybody - don't just make your point on the internet. You need to actually participate in the review and details of how you can do that will be coming to Liberal Democrat Voice in a little while.

Helen Flynn said...

Clegg would get far more credit if the review was led and the team was composed of people he has almost no connection with, but are respected in their areas. Also, people who are newer to the party, not just the "old lags". There needs to be a strong challenge and the real chance that we can change direction as a result, rather than coming away thinking that the message was OK but the media never gives us airtime, rise of Ukip. blah, blah, usual excuses. It was an utter failure and things have got to change. If Clegg does not have the instinct to know that, then something is deeply wrong. It's job No.1 for the leader.

Paul McKeown said...

Any serious review ought to be announced and take place through official channels, not via LDV. In the absence (as yet) of any direct survey of the membership by the party, I, for one have had my local party call a meeting of its members to attempt to come to a consensus view. Any such consensus will be communicated by the chair to the party at large.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that Clegg (and the other Orange bookers) are not Liberals in the British sense of the word. They are essentially free market fundamentalists with a strong authoritarian tinge. Just look at the dismissive tone of Clegg to any criticism of his leadership. It is his road or the high road. That is just not a Liberal (or indeed liberal) approach.

Anonymous said...

Any review that doesnt consider a change of leadership is not worthy of the name. Clegg is hollowing out the party like a cancer.

Anonymous said...

Liberal long standing policy has been free markets, free trade and freedom of the individual - more so than Conservatives.

It seems many people who joined the Liberal Democrats were really Labour supporters who are strong market interventionists. Only after the Coalition was formed did they realise what being liberal means.

Sadly the Labour lite image that the SDP has brought to the Lib Dems has been a barrier to Lib Dems winning voters from Conservative to replace those lost to Labour.