Sunday, 18 April 2010

Nick Clegg Nearly as Popular as Churchill?

Bit of an extreme reaction, isn’t it?  After all Nick Clegg, great guy that he is, hasn’t led the country victorious through a world war.  So why, at 73% popularity, has Nick Clegg this apparently over-the-top poll rating?

I’ve been mulling this over.   According to the pundits, the first week of this election campaign has been rather lack lustre.  Everybody knew the date and therefore knew what was to come.  David Cameron certainly did: it was decided that although the Liberal Democrats would benefit from the exposure; Cameron would come onto the leadership debates, turn up the charisma, dance rings around Brown and emerge the victor.  Because although the Lib Dems might be in the room, the received wisdom from all is that when it comes to the crunch, the British people know that really that the third party are an irrelevance.  It will always be between the Conservatives and Labour.

This view has been valid for many decades but failed to take into account a few factors, firstly being those on the weeks leading up to the debate.  It is very clear that in the build-up to the election, the Conservatives have been wooing all the minor parties willing to listen about their support.  I have blogged a couple of times about the Conservative / SNP union and noted with regret Tory tampering with the delicate situation in Northern Ireland.   So what is a desperate Labour party to do?  Sidle up to the Liberal Democrats of course, or at least attempt to poach their voters.  The Conservatives too realised that the election is so tight that they cannot afford to alienate the Liberal Democrats.  The result of this was the Nick had a relatively easy time of it on the night from the other two leaders.

This is not to discredit Mr. Clegg.  He played a blinder of a debate, presenting a positive picture of the Liberal Democrats, answering the questions(!) and interacting well with all audiences.  Despite what the others say, Nick won not only on style (as they concede) but also on policy.  The people of Britain are not fools and therefore cast a dim view upon the evasions of the other two.  But what Nick also did was to steal the charisma of David Cameron.  Conservative H.Q. had their man in the role of leader; guiding Britain out of thirteen years of failed Labour control.  Sadly for the Tories, Nick Clegg was able to cast Cameron as part of the problem, not the solution.

Why should this be?  The main reason is, of course, the M.P.s’ expenses scandal.  No Westminster party is totally clean on this affair but people remember one thing: compared to the other parties, the Liberal Democrats came out of the scandal with far less mud clinging to us then either Labour or Conservatives.  We all remember the deep, deep anger at the time.   Labour and Conservatives both thought though that come the election it would be business as usual.  That the British public would fall in line, join them in this silent conspiracy: one kept mainly in the quiet with the help of Britain’s media.   Come this election however, the British public have other ideas.   The best result for the old two parties would have been a low turnout as people either abstained in protest or grudgingly cast their votes as usual.  At least the first leadership debate has blown away a lot of that apathy.  The people are eager for giving the establishment a damn good hiding and behold; they now have a weapon:  Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.

What now?  Now the real fun begins.  Already this weekend have seen attacks from the Conservative friends in the press corps: The Sun, News of the World, Daily / Sunday Mail et. al. Everything from being shaky on defence, economy, character and even Britishness.   The opposition parties claim our figures don’t add up.  They do, and at least our figures are out there to be scrutinised.  Where are the Conservative figures?  Who can trust Labour after years of being addicted to spin and the dark arts?  Below you will find a link to the Liberal Democrat manifesto.  And just to make it real easy for you dear reader, I will supply links to the Conservative and Labour manifestos as well so you are in a position to compare like-with-like.  That is how confident I am that the more you see of the Liberal Democrats, the more you will like what you see.

As I wrote in my last blog and as Nick Clegg is saying, all this is just a start.  The brick-bats flying in the direction of the Liberal Democrats will not decrease.   We activists will have to stick to our principles and keep on delivering those leaflets; knocking on those doors.   Do all we can and I for one am content to leave final judgement to the people of this nation.

Links to Manifestos

Liberal Democrats:

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