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Can Clegg be forgiven?

Ross McKibbin: 5 May, 2 June 2011

... didn’t help. By general consent the Lib Dems had most to worry about after the counting, Nick Clegg 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 position after the general election. I thought then ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: Shuffling Off into Obscurity, 5 May 2016

... 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 every political career ends in failure but this was something ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Radio 3’s ‘X Factor’, 14 July 2011

... who every day in every way inexplicably tries to make himself as indistinguishable from Nick Clegg as possible – has said, speaking with resounding hollowness on behalf of his colleagues on both sides of the House of Commons. Of ...

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 Nick Clegg 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 ...


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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... were on the way out, and Miliband Minor and Balls were taking over. During the negotiations, Nick Clegg, 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 power, and confident that when power was achieved the ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Ed Balls, 22 September 2016

... 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 grace has been far steeper as a result. Cameron was elected ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Corbyn Surge, 27 August 2015

... Howard as the sole candidate without consulting the membership. In 2007, Lib Dem members chose Nick Clegg 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 have known Huhne’s vulnerability on that score. By ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Clytemnestra du jour, 21 February 2013

... Huhne, on the other hand, was a hack on the Independent who later lost the Lib Dem leadership to Nick Clegg. (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’s ex-wife, Vasiliki Courmouzis, known to the ...

At the Tory Conference

Ross McKibbin, 22 October 2009

... The first is that all three parties are debt repayers, however much they differ as to timing. Nick Clegg, 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 that debt is a bad thing and sooner or later has to ...

At the Crossroads

Bruce Ackerman: Electoral Reform, 9 September 2010

... over the country’s political destiny. But the new proposal for electoral reform, championed by Nick Clegg 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 centres might threaten the functional supremacy of the ...

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, Nick Clegg told the conference that he opposed ‘a like-for-like Trident replacement’ and suggested that ‘the money would be better spent on frontline military operations ...

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 have framed policy on the basis that the post-Thatcher settlement was permanent. (Indeed Nick Clegg 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 social-democratic inheritance; Thatcher held back from any ...

On the Coalition

LRB Contributors, 10 June 2010

... 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 the parties have old flames they won’t be able to ...

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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... for Blair. It was a case of being misled. We were sold a bill of goods. In How to Stop Brexit, Nick Clegg 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.’ To show he means it, he says he fully understands why ...

The Mess They’re In

Ross McKibbin: Labour’s Limited Options, 20 October 2011

... Simon Hughes, and various spokespeople, and who often act as though the coalition doesn’t exist. Nick Clegg 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 great speed); he saw no difficulty with Andrew ...

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