How I learned to stop worrying and love Nick Clegg

April 22, 2010 at 9:35 pm 17 comments

The second debate has just nicely ended as I write, and the early indications are a continuation of Cleggmania, in a watered-down form. Fear not, you Lib Dems, I come not to bury Nick but to praise him. Actually I come to do both. Here are five reasons to love him and to love him not:


  • He’s a posh boy. Westminster school and (entirely on his own merits) Cambridge.
  • He’s slightly left of the Tory/Labours but finds no room for nuclear disarmament or renationalising the railways.
  • He’s never had a proper job.
  • He’s too young and callow to have gravitas. The Lib Dems discarded the superior Vince and Menzies option because Nick is cuter and throws better shapes at the podium.
  • ‘Savage cuts’ (is he a Tory in disguise? Oh I do hope not)


  • He overcame the disadvantages of his background by not becoming a Tory.
  • He speaks 5 languages (4 more than G Brown) and is a bona fide internationalist.
  • His favourite book is ‘The Leopard’ by Lampedusa (now that really is promising!)
  • He wants to scrap Trident – well, sort of.
  • He’s going to get us PR.

Am I turning into a closet Libdem? Am I hell! Does the boy Nick deserve to carry the hopes of all lefties at this election? As if!  But you know what?  HE’S GOING TO GET US PR!


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Quote of the Week Speaking of posh boys….

17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jim jepps  |  April 22, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    I think CALLOW sums it up really well.

    His stance on savage immigration controls and savage cuts make him out of bounds for me.

    I actually thought Brown won it this time – but the main felling was a lack of a real alternative to the three identical triplets

    In my view

    • 2. h0wgreenismyvalley  |  April 22, 2010 at 9:46 pm

      That was quick Jim! Yeah I do agree about the lack of options – see my ‘Three men in Suits’ post. Wish Caroline had been there!

  • 3. Jennie  |  April 22, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    He’ll only get us PR if he wins.

  • 4. MatGB  |  April 23, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    He’s a posh boy.

    And? I’m the grandson of a posh farmer, but also the grandson of a lowly labourer, what difference does it make? He’s aware of his privilege, which is what actually matter.

    finds no room for nuclear disarmament

    He’s a committed multilateralist who’s reason for not backing a policy of complete disarmament was clearly so that he had a negotiating chip when talks come up. I agree with him there, get rid of the damn things, but get everyone to get rid of them together.

    He’s too young and callow to have gravitas. The Lib Dems discarded the superior Vince and Menzies option because Nick is cuter and throws better shapes at the podium.

    What is this gravitas thing of which you speak?

    Vince, explicitly, did not want to be leader, and does not want to be leader; he’s an economics expert, and wants to run the economy; let the expert be the expert, have a generalist be a generalist.

    Campbell resigned as leader because, frankly, he wasn’t up the job; if Brown had called a snap election, he’d have been good, but for a long haul 3 year campaign, not the man. And Clegg wasn’t a shoe in, Huhne ran a strong campaign.

    I don’t, specifically, know party policy on railways, but personally I care not who owns the rolling stock, we’ve alreayd nationalised the actual rails.

    As for savage cuts? Well, one of them is Trident, another ID cards, all fully explained in the manifesto; you object to cutting ID cards and Trident out?

    So essentially Kate, your negative reasons don’t really hold water.

    And yes, he is going to get us PR. It was my principle reason for joining the party back in 2006. It’s also my main reason for running a damn strong campaign for Hilary; on the current polls she’s close to wining CV on the national swing, a few more endorsements from those outside the party and we’ll get her in, that’ll really help make a difference.

    • 5. Jen  |  April 23, 2010 at 5:33 pm

      Given how there is so much less money to go around at the moment, renationalising the railways is probably one of those things you can only put in your manifesto if you’re confident of never having to make the numbers add up. Or if you’re planning far more swingeing cuts elsewhere than the Lib Dems.

  • 6. jim jepps  |  April 23, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Mat, you know full well that Clegg’s cuts are not simply trident and ID cards but are intended to cut a swath through public services.

    His entire economic approach revolves around cutting public spending, you seem to be deliberately playing this down which to my mind is dishonest.

    The fact is that he is not against ditching our weapons of mass destruction and when accused of wanting to scrap all our nukes he is *very* clear that this is not the case. For shame.

    His callowness is important because if we want someone with backbone and principles Clegg (and the Lib Dems more generally) simply are not it.

    • 7. MatGB  |  April 23, 2010 at 6:41 pm

      No Jim, I don’t know that, not at all. You know how I know that? I asked him directly when I interviewed him. Also, I’ve read the manifesto, which clearly sets out what the planned cuts are. You can, if you wish, tilt at windmills and set out your paranoid conspiracy theory that says Clegg and all other Lib Dems are in fact secret Thatcherites who want to destroy everything, but that’s simply not the case, and you’ve no evidence whatsoever to back this up.

      Clegg is a multilateralist, you and I are unilateralists. I at least do him, and other multilateralists, the credit of understanding their position; you simply see it as a figleaf for actually wanting more nukes but not wanting to admit it.

      During the leadership campaign televised debates, Huhne, also a unilateralist, tried to pin Clegg down on this, and it was written about extensively in the press and online afterwards. I know what most don’t pay attention to internal debates of other parties, but you can check this out if you wish. Clegg made it very clear he wants to get rid of all weapons, including those of countries such as Israel and Iran, but is of the opinion that if you go into a negotiation having already given away your only chip, you won’t get anywhere.

      I’m not sure he’s right, and I disagree with him on this, but I do know that he knows a lot more about conducting international diplomacy than I ever want to know, and his position and preference is very clear.

      Again, mixture of facs and opinion. Feel free to disagree with the opinion, but the facts are a matter of public record. He doesn’t go as far as you want, as quickly.

      But you know what? Neither do a lot of the electorate. I think we could go further, and I think we could make the case for going further, but this is a real chance to actually get a real change in the system of governance in this country.

      Regardless of what I want from a policy, Clegg’s position is closer to the electorate; if that helps get him, and therefore the reforms we desperately need, that’s something I can live with.

      Outside of 2 seats, where, seriously, are the Greens in with a chance? They’re certainly not locally, there’s a very slim chance they’ll get one Cllr in this constituency in two weeks, and that’s a slim chance. And to do this, they’ll need to defeat the Cllr on the council who’s already closest to thee and me on most issues.

      Kate, while an excellent candidate, has no chance of winning hte constituency. Hilary has. Those are also facts. But if Hilary wins, then PR is almost certain to follow. After that?

      From what I’ve seen, Kate’ll definitely get a pretty high preference from me in the next election. But in this one she’s doing nowt but split the anti-Tory vote.

      Now, seriously, you don’t trust LDs, wed on’t go far enough for you. That’s fine, you’re an idealist. But stop looking through blinkers and making refusing to look at what’s actually been said. It devalues the discussion.

      • 8. h0wgreenismyvalley  |  April 24, 2010 at 12:28 am

        Happy is the blogger who gets attention from the Lib dems as well as Labour! Glad to have your extended input Mat. It’s too late to respond in detail, but I’ve got to call you on your psephology! You lot have had a surge in the polls, but how can you seriously claim that it’s enough for Hilary to have a chance of overturning the huge Tory/Labour totals? If you have numbers, please do share!

  • 9. MatGB  |  April 24, 2010 at 12:40 am

    Easy. McCafferty should have lost last time, but stayed in on a personal vote.

    On the other hand, Booth has the opposite of a personal vote, she has people actively campaigning against her, and definitely doesn’t have a strong support base.

    On the other hand, Lib Dems have come first or second in every council ward bar one in the constituency in the last local elections, Labour used to hold virtually every ward, and are now in a distant third in all but 2, neither of which are they going to take back this time (you guys have a better chance in Calder than they do, but I rate Nader’s chances highly).

    I’ve got the numbers, Hilary has a better chance of winning to Steph. Steph had zero chance of winning even if she was a good candidate with a united local party. The national campaign hasn’t helped her.

    Hilary will come first or second. It’s between her and Whittaker.

    Whittaker hasn’t got a huge amount of funding from central office as he’s an assumed win, they’re put some money in, but not huge amounts. The Tory vote is soft, very soft.

    If people genuninely think that Steph can’t win, and see that Hilary is fighting to do so, then a lot of people will switch.

    In addition, Electoral Calculus gives CV as a LD gain on the current poll results; it’s the only site that takes into affect things like tactical votes and similar, it’s by no means perfect, but it’s better than any other seat calculator I’ve found.

    Final point. I’m new to the area, I used to work in Westminster. I want to fight a campaign where I’m needed, but have no specific ties; if I didn’t think Hilary could win, I’d be helping Greg in Leeds, David in Bradford, Gordon in Burnley or Nicola in Colne Valley.

    I’m happy to travel to help a target seat campaign. But I did a massive number crunch (have a full chart of all local votes going back to 1994). Clear trend towards LD, against Labour. Tories have always done ok in local Govt, but Labour has collapsed; they used to hold virtually every ward, now they haven’t a single Cllr.

    Hilary genuinely can win. The national swing after the campaign proper started has simply sealed that deal, now everyone believes it’s possible, something not true before.

  • 10. SarahBee  |  April 24, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Hilary Myers winning the Calder Valley seat is a complete fantasy. More than double the share of the votes won in 2005 would be required. National polls will not be reflected by actual voting patterns in the constituencies, and clinging to them is foolish to say the least. The result in the Calder Valley will be determined by turnout, and by those who didn’t bother to vote Labour last time round because they didn’t have to. They will be out in massive numbers this time.

    • 11. MatGB  |  April 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm

      Sarah; turnout in Calder Valley last time was above national average. The Labour vote and activist base has utterly collapsed, they’ve gone from controlling the council to almost non-existent. Many of my actual activists (I’m the LD Brighouse Chair now) are former LAbour voters/supporters.

      And I’m not clinging to the national polls; that’s just an added bonus. Hilary has a better chance of winning in the valley than Steph Booth has. That, on its own, is enough to give her a chance.

      The odds favour Whittaker, and I think that’s the most likely option, but I assure you I’m no fantasist. Hilary can win, Steph can’t, and Kate, unfortunately, has no chance whatsoever. Whittaker is likely to win, but I’d like to stop him.

      • 12. h0wgreenismyvalley  |  April 24, 2010 at 11:09 pm

        Yeah. Great to have the other parties trading words on these pages (seriously!) I’m not about to accuse anyone of being a fantasist – oh no – but I’ll repeat my quote from a couple of weeks ago: “The only wasted vote is a vote for someone or something you don’t believe in”

  • 13. Alan McDonald  |  April 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    I’ve joined the Greens because I believe in the Green philosophy: that we’ve got to take a radically different approach to how we live, to meet a future beyond peak oil and climate change. I’m not a callow youth, I’ve got my bus-pass now: I’ve had enough of appeals to me to be tactical over the years. Where have they got us? Here in the mire. Green policies aren’t an optional add-on, they’re the core of what we need to happen.

    As a local party candidate, the other numbers I’ve crunched, to satisfy myself, are the bedgetary numbers. And the commenter who suggest the Greens haven’t done their sums is mistaken. Have a look at the manifesto at You’ll find bigger state pensions, bigger child benefit, higher minimum wage – and honesty about the tax increases that would be needed to meet the costs.

  • 14. SarahBee  |  April 25, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    MatGB, David Cameron famously said that “If you want to know what a Conservative government will be like just look at our Conservative Councils”.

    By taking a long hard look at Tory/Lib-Dem controlled CMBC, it should provide the people of Calder Valley all the reasons they need to avoid voting for either of these parties in a General Election.

    • 15. MatGB  |  April 25, 2010 at 12:51 pm

      Um,Sarah, hate to burst your bubble, but the LDs have no control in CMBC. Recently, they took some scrutiny panel chairs, but as Labour have been saying for ages, they’re mostly toothless.

      The entire cabinet is Tory, and has mostly stayed in power with Labour support.

      So yes, take a look at Calderdale; a very good reason to vote against the Tories. No reason at all to vote against LDs, because they’re not, and have never been, in power there.

      • 16. h0wgreenismyvalley  |  April 25, 2010 at 10:30 pm

        Gee Matt, I’m sure we’re all very impressed that you’ve come from Westminster to show the country bumpkins how it’s done…
        One or two tips though. We may not have interviewed Nick Clegg (ooh!) but we do have our own quaint old-fashioned ideas about psephology (not to mention spelling and grammar).
        We also have a well-developed sense of irony! Let me spell it out for your rarified Westminster faculties: my title ‘How I learned to stop worrying…’ is a reference to Dr Strangelove and is IRONIC! Get someone older to explain if necessary (Hilary would’ve recognised it – bet you didn’t ask her).

  • 17. SarahBee  |  April 26, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Hmm… interesting.

    A Lib-Dem activist who is a major player in Hilary Myers’ campaign describes Lib-Dem councillors at Calderdale as toothless and without any power in their Scrutiny Panel roles.


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How cold is my valley?

Who I am

This blog started during the months before the 2010 General Election, in which I was the Green candidate for Calder Valley. It's morphed into an account of green activism...and other meanderings.

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