Been thinking a bit about Lib Dem leadership strategy. Probably from Clegg's point of view,he has been a success as a Lib Dem leader by dint of getting them into government - something not achieved by any of his predecessors for generations. But he has done this, it would increasingly seem, at a terrible price - the near complete electoral obliteration of his party in local elections, and, we can anticipate, at the next general election in 2015. One wonders whether on that basis he will be judged by history to have be been a success strategically, or a shocking failure.
When Clegg signed up to a coalition agreement with Tories in 2010 I admit to being somewhat shocked. Certainly, under previous leaders such as Charlie Kennedy or Ming Campbell, I had gone along with the general view of the Lib Dems as broadly progressive in nature. I took the view that the likes of Kennedy or Campbell had their own personal lines in the sand, based strongly on the principle that they would not enter coalition with non-progressive parties such as the Tories.
I still believe that to have been the case, even though one of the key drivers for both Clegg and Cameron to form the coalition was the agreement made in 2004 by Tories and Lib Dems to take control of Birmingham City Council, albeit that the Birmingham coalition was driven more by a shared hatred of Labour on the part of the leadership of both Birmingham parties than by anything else.
In a delicious irony, the "progressive partnership" in Birmingham was swept away this year by a resurgent Labour party, partly because the parties' national leadership had followed their example of 8 years before.
However, more of a key driver towards coalition was, I think, the nature of the Lib Dem national leadership, specifically Clegg, but also other "orange bookers" such as Laws and Alexander, who in reality are more radically conservative in their outlook than some Tories, and form a natural fit with them. Indeed, my view is these individuals really ought to be in the Conservative party.
So, Clegg took the opportunity of red boxes and Downing St offices and ministerial cars. Substantially, one feels because he simply could not resist it, but primarily because he arguably had his own line in the sand all along, whereby he would never take his party into coalition with Labour. That was certainly true as long as Brown led Labour , and Clegg said so at the time. Cameron's role in putting a "big, fair, and comprehensive offer" to Clegg in the days following the election should not be forgotten - clearly Cameron had the future of his own leadership uppermost in his mind too - for all the waffle aboutcoming together in the national interest.
Many rank and file Lib Dems, I believe, still wish that Clegg had never taken them across that line in the sand into partnership with the Tories, as it may yet prove to have been catastrophic for the party's very existence.
From Labour's point of view, it may find itself in a situation where it finds it necessary to seek an agreement with the Lib Dems. But Clegg has also, I'd suggest, effectively also drawn a new line in the sand which Labour now cannot cross - just as Clegg refused to deal with Brown, so it would now be impossible for Labour to deal with Clegg (or Laws or Alexander).
So I think that strategically, Clegg's leadership has failed. He has, for the sake of a single term as a junior coalition partner to a reactionary senior partner, trashed his party's progressive credentials, perhaps fatally damaged its short to medium term electoral prospects, and damaged the country via his craven complicity in the Tories' shameful ideological attack on the NHS, to give but one instance of the damage inflicted by this government, as well as poisoning any future prospect of his party's participation in a genuinely progressive coalition.
He fully deserves the opprobrium he now attracts, and the oblivion to which he will in time be consigned.
I'm a nasty, violent lefty. You cunt.
Last edited by Abernathy on Fri May 25, 2012 12:28 am, edited 1 time in total.