Nick, who is apologising for being in government?
Sorry for not blogging in a while but I haven’t been in the blogging frame of mind recently.
Nick Clegg gave the inaugural William Beveridge lecture at the Social Liberal Forum’s Conference on Saturday.
The speech was generally uncontroversial, Nick basically transplanted Beveridge’s 5 Giants of Evil into todays world and the challenges we face as a country today and how we are addressing them in government.
Nick added a sixth evil and that was Climate Change.
To a LibDem crowd, it wasn’t highly controversial speech until the last 5 minutes where Nick Clegg said what he has been saying effectively since the coalition began. The quote that particularly bothers me is this one:
I’ve had it with apologising. I’ve had it with this sort of defensive crouch. We spend all our time worrying about what the latest letter-writer fanatic says on the back pages of the Guardian.
We have a proud record of social liberal delivery in government and we should go out and tell people. No one else is going to say it if we don’t.
First of all, Nick, you have never apologised once for doing anything and many people hate you for it. Second, I don’t know of a single Liberal Democrat member who has apologised for being in government. I’ve heard a lot of “boohoo look at what those nasty Tories are making us do”, when quite frankly they aren’t making us do anything. Those comments are trying to get the sympathy vote of those who either a) don’t understand the nature of coalition in the fact that its supposed to be an equal partnership or b) shift all the blame on to the Tories while getting away Scot free from any responsibility of voting these measures through.
The electorate is quite rightly punishing us every time we try for the sympathy vote.
As for worrying about whats being written in letter-writer column in the Guardian or any newspaper, yes we should worry because they are real people, real voters who will be voting come 2015 and we have to address their concerns.
Whether it is the Guardian, the Sun, the Daily Telegraph or any other newspaper, we should care what they are writing. Why? Because they both reflect and inform public opinion.
If we had a news show like Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom, that actually delivered the news without any bias and sought the truth rather than appealing to their viewers sensibilities we may have a shot at decent coverage but we don’t.
We have to work within that framework even though I don’t like it. I doubt any liberal likes it because as Beveridge pointed out one of the giant evils we face is ignorance and that is incredibly hard when people get to choose the facts they listen to more than ever, with the invention of the internet and the google filter bubble.
The voting public get their information from newspapers, broadcasts, the internet and the odd party political leaflet. When people’s memories of a period often are drawn from the public mood of the time and when that public mood is reflected by the newspapers, broadcasts and the internet which is broadly negative towards the LibDems then it doesn’t matter how many Focus leaflets we put through people’s doors.
The air war is incredibly important and Nick should never lose sight of that.
If the Liberal Democrats & Nick Clegg are in a defensive crouch, then we have to ask why. Why are the Liberal Democrats & Nick Clegg particularly being attacked and what can we do to change that? Its not because we are in government, it is because of our actions within government.
The UK is in the midst of an economic, political and social crises, there are difficult choices to make no doubt about it. The country is angry at bankers who seem to be getting away with robbing the people blind, a political system that seems to be bending over backwards to please the bankers and any other vested interest that asks except for the people themselves, a social system that leaves people feeling cold and alone, like there is nobody on their side. The people are scared of losing their jobs, the benefits that they need, the economy is stagnant so the unemployed feel like they’ve got no hope, wondering what is the point of getting up in the morning.
The LibDems are in government, on one side fighting the Tories, on the other side fighting Labour and claiming any little victory that we can to try and get the electorate to vote for us in 2015 rather than Labour or the Conservatives.
When people are struggling, they don’t care about a list of achievements, what they care about is what you are going to do to fix it. They want hope and aspiration, a light at the end of the tunnel no matter how small.
Being in government, we can give that to people, but I don’t see us even trying. I see us managing and doing politics in the old way not in a new style like we promised at the last election.
I hope to see Nick stop managing the LibDems and the country and start leading the LibDems and the country. If Nick starts leading then the LibDems and the country will follow. The cherry on top is that at the same time we get to build a more liberal Britain.