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Clegg cutting across Cameron message but in being out of touch they are united

Posted on 6 April 2011 | 1:04pm

If anything underlined the hero to zero journey made by poor old Nick Clegg, it is the furore over his intervention yesterday about internships.
It must have seemed so obvious to Clegg and his political comms team . . He has to find ways of differentiating himself from the Tories. Hence his foolish and inaccurate claim to have secured lower fuel prices.
But saying internships should neither be unpaid nor merely the preserve of the well connected seemed like classic differentiation territory. But did they seriously expect the issue of his own use of patronage, neighbours who happened to be Tory Cabinet ministers and the like would stay unknown and unused for political attack? Either they are losing any touch they ever had, or they are just plain out of touch.
His speech yesterday also represented another cannibalising policy. In so far as David Cameron understands the Big Society, I suspect that young people getting a leg up from family friends and connections, and young bucks learning a thing or two through cheap labour in between ski trips and gap years is very much part of his vision.
So in addition further to welcoming another Clegg mishap as part of the longterm plan to cut him adrift if a majority ever looms into view, he will also be wondering why his Number Two is cutting across his Number One message.
Clegg did much the same on health. Whilst Number Ten and Andrew Lansley were saying the pause – more and more hilarious with every passing day – was merely that, Clegg was out presaging major change.
It meant that today Cameron was cast in the role once more of holding the ring between members of his team saying different things. All a bit chaotic and silly. And all at a time when living standards are about to get clobbered . . . Cue more chronic out of touchness from the rich boys running the country . . Eight out often better off. In the Cabinet maybe, in the country I think not.

  • Watoop

    What continually surprises me about this shower is how the most basic communications practice is completely ignored. Surely, surely someone in Clegg’s inner circle would have said yesterday morning “have we got any skeletons in the closet on this internship thing?”. But no, off he goes in full deer-in-headlights mode to pontificate on the evils of unpaid patronage when his own personal background and his party are littered with it.
    Rank, laughable amateurs – but not too funny when they are destroying the country.

  • Dave Simons

    Can I briefly digress? April 6th 2011 is not only the beginning of a new financial year and the date when compulsory retirement at 65 ends, but perhaps more importantly it’s the birthday of our regular blogger, Sarah Dodds! Happy birthday Sarah! Thank you for your posts – I especially liked the one a few weeks back, which began, ‘YOU PATRONISING BASTARD!’ Hope you succeed in your campaign, and just to remind anyone who needs reminding:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/educ

    Now back to Nick Clegg’s networking….

  • Laurapayneuk

    Lower fuel prices??? Two weeks later & the Esso garage in our village is back up and beyond £1.40/ litre pre budget price…I know oil companies will claim that’s because spot price has gone up but their profits show a healthy living being made by shareholders at our expense.
    And since when have GP’s known how to run what the NHS is now apparently become – a ‘business’? We are naive to think that under Tory proposals 65% of the NHS budget would be run by our bumbling GP down the road with the very nice bedside manner! Huge private US style private companies will move in under the guise of ‘practice administrators’ and take over what is 2/3rds of the NHS budget – how’s that not privatisation????

  • JM1

    Clegg is despised, not just for being an unprincipled liar, but because of his sanctimonious, ‘holier than thou’ manner. When initially speaking about his plans for internships (plans which cannot be policed and are a peripheral matter), he made no reference to his own family connections giving him a leg up in his career. When this was brought up, he then portrays himself as a martyr claiming that just because he benefited from an unfair system, this should not prevent him trying to correct that same system. He hoped his personal history would go under the radar, and he could claim to be different from his millionaire Tory colleagues. Clegg has got what he wants by going into coalition; namely a personal footnote (albeit a minor one) in the political history of the UK. That was his objective; he had no political convictions or ambitions beyond sating this personal desire once the opportunity arose. He will in due course be rewarded by his mate ‘Dave’ making the appropriate phone calls to facilitate a gravy train job in Europe shortly before the next general election. Surely Clegg would not be shameless enough to attempt to seek re-election in Sheffield again? Then again, going by his recent history I would put nothing beyond this bloke.

  • Dave Simons

    ‘Toughness’ should be ‘touchness’, but I can’t fathom the ‘Eight out’ bit.
    The prospect of Cameron seeing a small majority looming into view is, to me, quite frightening. If the Tories get in we’re stuck with them for another five years – thanks to Cleggy and his fixed-term parliaments. It is quite possible that the Coalition will fall apart if the LibDems lose the AV vote and the local election results are as dire for Clegg and co.as everyone expects. A snap General Election might deliver enough for Cameron to secure himself – Labour hasn’t yet reinvented itself enough to win. Having experienced more than thirty years of Tory government I don’t exactly relish the idea of another five years!

  • Dave Simons

    Sorry the link doesn’t work but if you type ‘Sarah Dodds’ into the Guardian search box that does come up it’s the 15th March 2011 article – ‘Is Academy Status being foisted on schools?’

  • Anonymous

    My mother eventually refused to vote on the grounds that ‘all politicians are in it for themselves’. I have to say, I agree with her. Some might go into politics for the ‘greater’ good but that soon turns to avarice for many.
    Career aspirations and eventually either the Lords on a stipend or an extremely well rewarded non-job in Europe.
    Clegg has reached his zenith within the Commons and his aim will surely be for Europe and more taxpayers money!
    He leads a shower of nonsensical MPs with a few exceptions in cahoots with another shower under the leadership of a charlatan.

  • Gilliebc

    @ Victor _ Meldrew

    I wouldn’t disagree with any of that and would just add that I am beginning to share the view held by a great many people that “they are all the same”
    I would tend to go further and add that democracy in this country is just an illusion.

  • Jacquie R

    Agree with criticisms of Clegg and have no sympathy for him at all, but there is a principle here. If a politician – or anyone else – has been subject to privilege (as all middle class people have in one way or another), surely they are allowed to question it later. Better to do so than to carry on justifying it.

    Clegg may be desperately (and incompetently) seeking areas which distance him from the Tories, but we don’t want to inhibit other privileged people from doing likewise. I welcome moral statements from socialist millionaires, so long as they want to change the tax system. And I’ve no problem with toffs like Jemima Goldsmith guest editing the New Statesman and enticing her cronies to think about human rights. At least she does.

    PS This is being typed on my laptop, which changes my name to Sylvia Clifford on this site, despite the fact that I type in Jacquie R. I have no way of knowing what name will appear, but I really am Jacquie.

    PPS Sarah Dodds, great lady, Happy Birthday.

  • Richard

    Just watched you on “Dream School”. Please could you give us your thoughts as to how kids like these can be taught. Teachers all over the country watching these brats, must be pleased that we get such an insight into their world. Education, Education, Education, you stressed, and 14 years later we have this level of non achievement, disrespect, disruption, threatened violence etc. You have an unique position between the politicians and the staff room , to frame a debate to change for ever such a waste of young lives.

  • Anonymous

    I have to agree with you about democracy being an illusion. Each of the parties at various stages has made promises to give the people more of a say e.g. the Lisbon treaty. Subsequently, they have all reneged. The coalition talks a ‘good game’ but the reality is that it is more about PR than actions. They seem to think that if they say something often enough then we’ll believe every word they say without question.
    The really difficult issue is how to change politics in a real sense…….I favour the “throwing the baby out with the bathwater approach” and let’s start again with a modern democracy modeled on say New Zealand!

  • Clegg used to be a lobbyist for RBS,
    If that’s not being a Tory I don’t know what is.
    All I do know is that I will never trust a Tory with the NHS
    That lot would sell their own children if there was profit in it.

  • Stick the little shits in the army for 6 months and teach them the meaning of the word discipline.
    Young people need boundary’s, and it would seem that this is something that has been lacking in their lives.

  • JM1

    In his latest interview, Clegg says he is not the sort of person who attends Oxfordshire dinner parties, that such events are simply ‘not part of my world’. He is utterly shameless or deluded; a pampered, over-privileged, charlatan. Does he really think the public do not see him as being very much at home in the Oxfordshire (or an equivalently monied location) dinner part scene?

    His interviewer (Jemima Khan) views him as an ‘honest and straightforward man in a dishonest and unstraightforward world’. What does she base this ridiculous conclusion upon? Probably on previous dinner party encounters with him in the Woodstock vicinity or elsewhere.