In six short months, the Liberal party has completed the rocky journey from a small but effective band of highly-principled Westminster guerrillas to a motley collection of low-impact politicians which thinks that “principles” is a clothes shop and Parliamentary “tactics” are a type of House of Commons mint.
Last night, their Leader Nick Clegg (whose speech delivery appears have morphed into that of a Cof E country vicar)delivered a well-rehearsed soundbite by his appeal to all Liberal MPs to “walk through the fire together”. Well, there is no doubt that they will be walking into it but there’s no guarantee that they will emerge “unsinged”at the other end.
Nick Clegg’s lack of foresight and total absence of strategic thinking probably means that after the next General Election, the Liberal Party will disappear from the political landscape. Oblivion beckons.
None of us can forget the pre-election theatre when Liberal MPs were schlepping round university campuses garnering student votes under what now transpires to have been false pretences (see photo above). At the time, neither the students nor the general voter viewed the Liberals’ actions with any suspicion or cynicism. After all, wasn’t it their Head Rottweiler, Norman Baker MP who had asked the very first Parliamentary question about MPs’ expenses. They were obviously an honest party who could be trusted – not like ” the rest of them”.
Our collective cynicism towards politicians was gradually ebbing away until that day in May when the Liberals signed a political HP agreement with the Conservatives and left their principles as a down-payment.
In theory there is nothing at all wrong with raising student fees – although, as the country (and the poor) become poorer, the timing may be seen as somewhat suspect. However, once you promise something to the current and future electorates – especially something as politically-sensitive as student fees, you should fight tooth and nail to retain it, together with your beliefs. You do not roll over and have your face fanned by a Ministerial Jag “extras” catalogue while your new security man massages your ego.
Clegg still does not realise that he and his party are not being berated for agreeing to raise university fees. This is not about winning or losing a vote. It is not about fees.
This is far more serious. It is about the credibility of what once was a great parliamentary party.
When the vote is passed, Clegg will have scored the mother and father of all Pyrrhic victories. He will be able to justify an increase in fees because that’s the easy part.
How will he explain the jettisoning of Liberal principles?
One of the great talents of the CIA is the ability to destroy the reputation of anyone who crosses Uncle Sam. Look out for more women coming forward with anti-Assange claims. The CIA will be busying themselves engineering a “freedom-for-silence”deal with Assange. Even though only about 10,000 out of a possible 250,000 documents have so far found their way onto Wikileaks, the ” information genie” is well-and-truly out of the bottle.
Meanwhile, let us hope that Assange is not involved in any fatal car crashes, illnesses or suicides. However, if he really is a rapist, bang him up.
A point of order on the continuing survival of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber. Eighteen months ago, he was given only three months to live and was released by the Scottish authorities on compassionate grounds.
In spite of all the claims and counter claims about Gaddafi- threats to the United Kingdom and the evidence disclosed by Wikileaks of “harsh and immediate action” by Libya if al-Megrahi died in a Scottish prison, we can be sure of one thing.
Had Megrahi remained in the care of the National Health Service, he would be dead by now.
Ken Clarke, the Lord Chancellor seems very keen on releasing prisoners, so here’s an idea which I am sure would be very popular at Westminster.
Build a large hostel in SW1 – somewhere near the palace of Westminster so that all freed criminals would have somewhere to live on their release.
There would be several advantages to such a scheme.
Firstly, the authorities would know where all the lags were lodging with the added bonus that living among politicians, they would immediately blend in and feel at home..