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How Ridiculous is Nick Clegg?

by ceebs Tue Jun 12th, 2012 at 09:05:50 PM EST

A question maybe posted in exasperation, but tonight one that needs asking.

Last Thursday Jeremy Hunt appeared before Lord Justice Leveson. At best his evidence could be characterised as being poor, and in the morning he dealt with the inquiry's lawyer about as effectively as Lembit Opik dealt with a professional wrestler. In the afternoon, the inquiry seemed to go much softer on him, either out of sheer embarrassment that they were going to end up with a government minister in tears in the room if they carried on, or because he was already shredded, and so they just put together details for the final report and to put together information for Cameron's questioning next week.

Within thirty minutes of this terrible performance, Downing Street had managed to put together a statement saying what a wonderful chap young Jeremy was and how the Prime Minister couldn't see anything that he'd done wrong at all, to general shock.


Lawyers who have been observing this whole affair are absolutely amazed, saying that with the Hunt situation, if the deal had been Ok'd then it would inevitably have been overturned by judicial review, returned to the government for another look, and Hunt would have been banned from any part of the decision as being irredeemably tainted.

Having Cameron place the Coalition in this position and with several Tory MPs having claimed how wonderful his performance had been, Labour saw an opportunity. As Cameron was not referring Hunt to the independent assessor, the party used one of their slots in parliamentary business to demand a vote on whether parliament itself should itself refer him.

Tonight Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems have come out with their party position on the upcoming vote. It is now party position to abstain. This is the most ludicrous position possible.

BBC News - BSkyB bid row: Lib Dems to abstain in Commons vote on Jeremy Hunt

Lib Dem MPs are to abstain in a Commons vote on Wednesday calling for an investigation into whether Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has broken the ministerial code of conduct.

Labour want his handling of News Corp's BSkyB bid referred to David Cameron's adviser on ministerial interests.

The BBC's Nick Robinson said Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg had told a meeting of his MPs and peers not to "support the Tories on this one" and "to stay away".

Mr Cameron has fully backed Mr Hunt.


Without the Lib Dems' votes, the vote is condemned to failure, unless there is a significant backbench rebellion from within the Tory party. The Tories having 306 seats and without the Lib Dems, the opposition only totals 281 seats.

The logic of this is utterly bizarre. Either they think Mr Hunt's evidence and position was correct, or there are more questions to ask. If Mr Hunt's position is correct, then you need to vote to support Mr Hunt. If you think he was utterly wrong, or if you think there is more investigation needed, then you vote to refer him to the independent assessor.

An abstention is absolutely the worst position to take. To those who oppose Hunt and Cameron, it looks like you are preventing the vote against from succeeding but don't have the guts to vote for Hunt. By not voting against Hunt, you may as well be voting for Hunt. To those supporting Hunt and Cameron, you are taking political advantage by sounding annoyed about the situation without actually having to take any activity to back your position up.

Is this not the worst of both worlds? Showing yourself and your party up as having no morals, just a vapid desire to cling to power? Now it could be said that any vote against is playing into the hands of the Labour Party, but surely someone inside the parliamentary Lib Dem party must have asked themselves how this is going to look to the voters? and surely someone there must have come to the conclusion that it can't come out in any way that looks good.

From outside this looks like a betrayal of both democracy and parliamentary government.

Display:
grumble mumble moan

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 12th, 2012 at 09:24:42 PM EST
Maybe he feels that, as a member of the Coalition, he can't advocate voting against members of his own side, equally he feels he can't vote for him either.

But he's pretty damned anyway and nothing he does is going to impress anybody, so why try ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 06:40:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And if he released the Lib Dem back benchers to a conscious vote, he'd still be blamed for every vote against the Coalition.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 02:41:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that's conscience vote ~ I can't imagine Lib Dem backbenchers would be making many conscious votes. Must be great business for the local pubs, but.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 02:42:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Conscious backbencher" is a profound oxymoron.
by rifek on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 02:23:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While perhaps a commonplace, the unconscious backbencher is not axiomatic. As one could so rarely know the difference from their votes, its "conscious backbencher vote" that is a contradiction in terms in many parliamentary systems.

I was rather referring in the second part there to a LibDem backbencher at least wanting to be blind drunk before a vote in this Parliament.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 15th, 2012 at 10:21:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - MPs voting on investigation into Jeremy Hunt's BSkyB role

The BBC's chief political correspondent Norman Smith said Mr Clegg had privately urged Mr Cameron a number of times over recent weeks to refer Mr Hunt to the independent advisor on ministerial standards.

It is understood he warned Mr Cameron before Mr Hunt appeared at the Leveson Inquiry that he believed an inquiry should be launched into the culture secretary's conduct.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 04:39:12 AM EST
Twitter / Sintellins: RT @BBCNormanS: Lib Dem so
Lib Dem sources say David Cameron told Nick Clegg "Why are you bothering.....nobody's interested" in Leveson


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 04:41:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Twitter / JoeWatts_: ToryMP just told me he was
ToryMP just told me he was having to miss son's sports day to come + vote on Hunt motion. Those LibDems really have no principles.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 04:59:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The horror.
by rifek on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 02:24:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, David, are you really that disingenuous?  If no one is interested in Leveson, then no one would be interested in anything the independent advisor would do, the reports would come out to general yawns, and you could strut about, proclaiming you'd fully supported an independent inquiry while beginning the rehabilitation of your Mr. Hunt.  The only reason to block the investigations is that you think they'd generate fire along with all the smoke, and even an owned fog bank like Clegg can figure that one out.
by rifek on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 02:32:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you are taking political advantage by sounding annoyed about the situation without actually having to take any activity to back your position up.

How is this is different to the LibDem contribution to the coalition generally?

The LibDems are pretending to be an anchor on the Tory Voyage to Madness while actually enabling it.

Considering the speed with which Clegg abandoned his former sincerely held positions, it's clear that Clegg has no conscience -  and no interest in anything other than a full term in parliament, followed by some extra cash on the lecture circuit.

So this is a bit of panto designed exactly to pander to the faithful - the few who are left - that Something is Being Done, while doing exactly nothing.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 06:03:42 AM EST
That's my reading too.

It doesn't actually have any of the effects of rebellion, but it hopes to give off the perception of rebellion.

The sad truth is that the Orange Bookers are getting exactly what they wanted - Neoliberal Government - and personal power and prestige - and they are betraying the rest of the Lib Dems and the majority of people who voted for them in the process.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 06:36:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For a second there I thought you were referring to everyone who had read One Day.
by rifek on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 02:50:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is fairly standard fare for coalition governments. A Junior partner in a coalitions disapproves of something a senior partner is doing, but doesn't regard the issue as serious enough to bring the government down. They signal to the media that they are unhappy and disavow the senior party's actions, seeking to distance themselves from it without doing anything so drastic as to threaten the future of the coalition. They try to keep their own base as sweet as possible in the circumstances, but nobody really buys it. A lot of bitching and griping and moaning and briefing against the senior party goes on, but nothing really changes. When Hunt is ultimately dumped, they will say "we told you so" and everyone moves on.

Unless you regard the issue as serious enough to bring the government down, there isn't really a whole lot to say about it - other than how pathetic Cameron's support for Hunt seems.  But those who will be enraged by it will generally be against the coalition in the first place - and this is but another of a long list of reasons to justify their position. Getting into bed with the Murdocks has been a bipartisan affair for a long time now. It's good that its all coming out into the public domain a bit more, but is it really news? We have rule by media and markets. Democracy is merely a post hoc rationalisation of the outcomes.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 06:47:58 AM EST
I add the quibble that it is entirely possible in coalition governments for the junior partner to vote against the majority partner on motions not connected to a confidence vote or summary annual budget vote. But the Hunt vote could indirectly bring down the government.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 07:37:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with your analysis. Nick Clegg did not like the decision to keep Hunt, but did not consider it an issue important enough to bring down the government. Therefore the party went for the symbolic gesture of abstention rather than backing the Labour motion (which would also have been a symbolic gesture, as I believe the motion before the House even if passed would not compel the setting up of an enquiry on Hunt).

The next step, if the motion had been passed, would have been a formal motion of no confidence. If that was passed, then that motion would have real effect and might lead to an early general election; if a new government could not gain the support of the House in 14 days. The coalition would presumably have defeated such a no confidence motion, but the friction between the coalition parties would have been greater if there had been a Lib Dem vote against the first motion rather than the abstention.

Clegg's position makes reasonable sense, from the point of view of parliamentary manouvres, but I doubt the general public will understand. The Labour Party will certainly treat all this as more ammunition for its attacks, as will ill-disposed Conservative backbenchers. It is in the self interest of both groups to return British politics to a more traditional two party system.

by Gary J on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 07:13:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Certainly, if the Lib Dems were going to bring down the coalition out of principles established in their manifesto, then the NHS bill would have been the time, or the new surveillance powers, or... etc.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:05:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let us not forget the impeding restriction on the immigration of spouses of British nationals - which is surely a spit in the eye of even an Orange Booker liberal...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 04:49:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clegg says press 'derided' him - The Irish Times - Wed, Jun 13, 2012
British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg described today how the press "ignored or derided" him and the Liberal Democrats before they entered government.

Mr Clegg said that at one dinner party with Rupert Murdoch and News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks in 2009, he had been put at the "very end of the table where the children sit". He also said most of his meetings with editors and proprietors were "fairly humdrum".


You see? The Lib Dems had to be go into Government to be taken seriously by the people who matter at the cost of being derided by the people who don't...


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 07:05:19 AM EST
This Morning at the Leveson Inquiry, Nick Clegg managed to entirely follow the Cameron line on Hunt in evidence.

which leaves you with the question, why aren't you voting for him then?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 09:50:55 AM EST
You're making the category error of giving a damn what Clegg thinks about anything

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 10:20:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 The Tories have won by 290 votes to 252 - a majority of 38 and  the DUP has voted to support Cameron,  You have to ask how cameron has Fucked up Northern Ireland for that going on past performance

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 12:26:41 PM EST
Has Cameron even been to N.I.? Does he know where it is? The DUP will curry favour with any Tory Government - maybe in return for some anti-gay opt out for N.I.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 07:26:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's that Cleggsy Bear doesn't want to damage the Coalition.

Look at the polls: Labour's in the mid-40s.  If there were an election today, the Lib-Dems would be obliterated.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 01:27:47 PM EST
people were debating if the election was held tomorrow, if you would be able to fit all the LibDem MPs in a Smart car, the only popular oposing viewpoint was that you could fit them on a Unicycle.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 01:55:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Lib-dems lack an exit strategy.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 02:21:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... its a not-exit strategy that they seem to be missing.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 02:47:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not surprising, since they didn't have an entrance strategy.
by rifek on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 03:05:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How ridiculous? Maybe you should ask whoever voted for captain obvious.

I had some pretty irritated discussions about the Lib Dems before the election: some things were there to be seen by whoever is prepared to open the eyes.

Obviously, in a coalition, the junior party has to accept that they will not dictate most of the policy. But the current situation is way beyond acceptable. I note that the Tories are breaking their own (phony) promises (like "being the party of the NHS").

If Cleggy and his party were half-decent they would break the coalition and accept the responsibility for their grotesque mistakes (i.e. electoral wipeout on the next cycle). But that would require a backbone, and decency &etc. Something not to be expected from LibDems.

The mind really boggles on why so many intelligent, thoughtful and decent people fell for such an obvious ploy...

In another front: Go Greens! Here is Caroline Lucas take on the Euro (written in 2003). Prescient or what?

by cagatacos on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 06:59:16 PM EST
If you weren't happy with the Labour Government and wanted a change (as most people did), voting Lib Dem was a soft option if you didn't want to vote Tory. They were the warmer friendlier less obnoxious types for the most part - mildly irritating with their habit of trying to claim the high moral ground - but not as obnoxious as the Tories. It's all about class, and class aspirations. If you want to be posh,, you vote Tory. Everyone else tries to find someone else to vote for...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 13th, 2012 at 07:31:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hyacinth Bucket has her ballot premarked "Tory."
by rifek on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 03:07:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Never underestimate the LibDems' ability to take the via media straight into a ditch.  Clegg showed in the "deal-making" after the last general that he isn't fit to lead a johnny detail.
by rifek on Thu Jun 14th, 2012 at 02:21:57 PM EST


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