Polygonic

That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

“Sad-eyed defender of the new reality”

Nick Clegg is kind of the man we hate to hate. We don’t want to hate him, and we do hate doing it. But there it is. It’s a double-hatey.

Charlie Brooker’s today pointed his blinding laser-beam of cynical humour directly Clegg’s way, in an article so cruelly funny it almost seems unfair. But what does fair really mean to the Lib Dem leader these days? Hum.

On cutting off his nose to spite his face

“Before the election, I made a solemn pledge to leave my nose intact. I even printed that pledge out, signed it, and posed for photos while holding it up and smiling like I meant it. So I can understand people’s disquiet over this. It’s something I’ve wrestled with personally. But nonetheless, off it goes. Cutty cutty nose time! Tee hee! Hoo hoo! Chop, chop, chop!”

Worth reading the whole thing, before falling into a small quandary about whether you feel more pity, or actually more hate, for the poor Lib Dem leader these days.

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Filed under: Politics, UK, , ,

7 Responses

  1. ck says:

    Why “hate to hate him”? I think he’s somebody we’d all love to hate! Look at that Cameron budget he just endorsed! A Draconian austere budget. Perhaps neither Cameron nor Clegg pay any attention to their neighbour, Ireland, whose government did impose austerity measures in 2008, when the recession there first began; it’s proven to fail miserably and some even wonder if they’ll even recover.

    No, Cameron’s latest austerity budget is even more Thatcheresque than perhaps even what Thatcher herself could have thrown. But, this is all about “Keeping up with the Jones’s” economy. The new Austerity fad, complete with mythical,non-existant confidence fairy. Paul Krugman had pointed out that this latest budget is nothing more than Tory ideology and great built-in excuse to cut the welfare state.

    Clegg is along for the ride, with both eyes open. Why he is to be hated more than Cameron is that Cameron and his party stand for things like cutting the welfare state, smaller government and all that B.S. It’s expected of him. I think many hoped that with Clegg’s Lib-Dems as a partner, perhaps things wouldn’t be so bad, that there would be compromise. But, that’s proving more and more not the case. He’s proving to be Cameron’s useful idiot (well, useful, anyway)

    Hell, it doesn’t even look like Clegg will get his electoral reform that he used to hold fast to.

    In the end, Clegg and his party, who, much like the NDP, had always been nothing more than a third place party and he saw this coalition opportunity with Cameron as his only way to power. Now that he and his party are part of the government, as I’ve mentioned, he’s simply along for the ride of power. Why should he make any kind of efford to get any concessions that suit Lib-Dem ideology? He probably knows that this is the only way to power, riding the coat tails of a bigger party; that he will never actually be voted as a winning party or even an official opposition, why would he even care that his polling numbers are slumping?

    • polygonic says:

      I think the “hate to hate” comes from this enduring numb disappointment in having an erstwhile “hero” transform with apparent ease into a bit of a puppet.

      I wanted so much love. I have so much love to give.

      I’d distinguish Nick Clegg from his party, though. The Lib-Dems, as the hyphen insinuates, is a party that’s still largely divided across its pre-merger faultline. The “Liberal” wing, Clegg’s wing, is very much in the mold of Ignatieff’s brand of centre-right liberalism. Sing society’s praises as it’s electorally clever to do so, but keep soft on detail. The “Democrat” wing are the old social democrats who believe in more-or-less traditional leftist values. Party identity since the ’80s merger has never been very clear or unified.

      What the coalition has exposed is not the difficulty of a Tory/Lib-Dem relationship, but the ease of the Tory/Lib relationship, and the outrage of the Dem. Google deputy LD leader Simon Hughes, a “Democrat,” today promising a backbench revolt against cuts to social housing planned by “his” government.

      Could it have been different? Could a coalition partner be better unified internally, and keep a healthier distance from drastic Tory policies? I think so. Clegg’s sold the chance down the river though.

  2. MoS says:

    It truly was a dandy piece of writing, wasn’t it? Britain isn’t the only country that has an enabler like this. Canada has one too, only he’s not in a coalition government. He’s the opposition leader. Take that article, substitute Ignatieff for Clegg, and you’ll see what I mean.

  3. ck says:

    Hmm, lessee, home care v fighter bomber planes. Right! How could I have missed that?

    Harper, a South American Dictator lite (can become heavy with majority and more than likely would). Honestly say the same thing about Iggy? I don’t. So he’s hugging the center.

    Sorry, but, be pragmatic, there is a conservative revolt going on across Europe and in North America. Even Julia Gillard, PM of Australia understood that. If she hadn’t have steered her party to the right, she probably would have tanked instead of being tied with Tony Abbott, the wingnut.

    Even Sweden that used to be Socialist–no more! Now the balance of power is held by a far right party with neo-nazi precedents.

    Come next week, all those whack job tea-baggers who believe the earth is flat, that mice have human brains and would disallow sex, implement draconian laws that would cripple the biggest employer in the State of Nevada (Angle), immaculate conception, etc. who would have been laughed off the stage, let alone unelectable will more than likely win. Some even landslides.

    So, yeah, those are the choices, far extreme right or center-right. Because the left ain’t gonna win at this time.

    Despite essays and articles by respected economists like Stiglitz, Krugman and others; as well as precidents such as the Hoover presidency in 1937 and more recently, Ireland since 2008. Austerity is a fad; “Keeping up with the Jones’s” And for some reason, the average Jane and Joe Six-pack all wanna be on that band wagon.

    Progressives and the center left are dismissed as evul soshalists, and connies are all abuzz about the “failures of soshalism”, I”m sure they need Depends.

    All this to say, while harsh, it’s going to come down to the hard choice: Harper or Iggy.

    And yes, NDP, not much better, they are largely the reason why the Harpercons got into power in the first place. Funny how most forget that.

  4. polygonic says:

    We’re living in a centre-right moment, no doubt. Across Europe and in North America, even the “collapse of capitalism” in 2008 didn’t herald a long-awaited new age of ultra-Keynesian economics.

    The problem with a rush centre-ward, though, is how to take a party with you. What’s the unifying credo? X if necessary, but not necessarily X? Not a knock on the pragmatics of centrism, but there are big unity challenges.

    In effect, talking about the Lib-Dems, that’s what Clegg’s done to them. He’s pulled both the centre-left and centre-right wings of the party deep in one direction, trying to be all things to all people. In so doing, he’s become *one* thing to all people – sadly, it’s a hypocrite.

    Labour’s leadership vote last month was incredibly tight, but the winner was the perceived leftist, as the party *in general* sees a huge space opening on the left now. Come election time, when people (are supposed to) revolt against the impact of the gov’t cuts, it’s leftward they’ll go. Brits, happily, aren’t afraid of a bit of socialism 🙂

    p.s. I might have sounded snide towards Iggy, but it wasn’t to equate him to Harper! Besides George W., Harper has few equals. But I’m comparing Iggy to Clegg (difference being that Britain’s centre is small, and Canada’s is big). In both liberal clans, there’s an obvious tumult in hugging the centre, as their conflicting left and right factions have difficulty with unity, and can end up their own worst enemies.

  5. I’m really not getting why people are picking on Clegg so much. I think he’s doing an admirable job in a difficult situation. If people actually paid attention to things, they’d see he’s not really flipflopped (or u-turned as they say in the UK). Like when the Lib Dems adopted the proposal to get rid of tuition fees at last year’s conference, Clegg told them outright that even if they were elected, it wasn’t something they’d be able to deliver on any time soon given the state of the country’s finances. It’s a coalition – what the hell do people expect him to do?

    • polygonic says:

      I definitely agree that people have to accept that you can’t get your way all the time in a coalition. Especially when the Lib Dems are very much the junior partner, with only a sixth the seats as their partners. There has to be some realism, and lots of their manifesto pledges won’t survive.

      The struggle here for Lib Dem supporters is partly one of ministerial watertightness, how they thought a coalition would work – and secondary to that is Clegg’s attitude. I think a lot of LD supporters would be happy to hear Clegg say “Our team is responsible for a few main things: climate change, energy, business, higher education, electoral reform. So, judge us on our performance in those areas, and judge the Tories on their side of the govt – defence, budgets and the treasury, immigration, foreign affairs, home office etc.” (of course, difficulty being that “budgets” affect everything, especially in a time of massive cuts!)

      The problems emerge for people when this watertightness comes undone from both ends: 1. Clegg over-reaches and lends total support to the Toryest of Tory ideas, which really alienates his “social democrat” base in an effort to appear central to decision-making across Whitehall, and at the same time 2. Clegg appears to allow Conservative encroachment on Lib-Dem areas of ministerial responsibility, i.e. university tuition fee reform, which ought to fall under Vince Cable’s BIS ministry.

      It’s a fascinating balance, and not always a fair one. A clearer division of powers would help the LDs enormously though.

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