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Sad to say, Cameron has Clegg exactly where he wants him

Posted on 24 April 2011 | 11:04am

Such is the negative prism through which Nick Clegg is now seen that people are highly suspicious about his sudden pre-local elections, pre-AV referendum attacks upon David Cameron.

It is all a bit too neat after all the chummy-chummy cosiness that is one of the reasons he has gone from hero to zero in the first place.

There are even suspicions that the whole thing – ‘you call me a rotter and I’ll say poo to you’ – was concocted at Chequers post-dinner after SamCam and Miriam withdrew to talk Royal weddings and the chaps settled down to a nice glass of port.

‘Trouble is David, my party thinks we are not getting enough out of this coalition malarkey … what they’re hearing on the doorstep is that all we’ve done is cut public services, close libraries, sack people, put up tuition fees, try to destroy the NHS and sort of go to war in Libya … kind of all the sort of things they voted LibDem to stop happening … and of course our people say well, thanks to Nick Clegg we’re having a referendum on a new voting system … to which most people seem to say “so bloody what?”‘

Cameron nods sympathetically, opens his mouth to speak, but Clegg is in full flow. ‘And the thing is David, of course I am trying to get all passionate about AV but I did once say it was a miserable little compromise – which is how I’m beginning to feel about the whole coalition thing to be honest -…’

‘Oh Nick, you mustn’t say that…’

‘Well sorry to be so down about it David but let’s be honest with each other, I mean we’ve always tried to be straight with each other, and the fact is you have let Osborne off the leash and he is directing this No campaign and you’ve got all your donors out there and all your campaigners basically using it to do me in, and it’s just not jolly well fair, is it?’

‘I think we’ll all feel better after the Easter break, I really do. But look Nick, if you want to go out there and have a bit of a pop at me, if you think it helps with your base and with your activists, honestly, I think you should. I mean even if it makes you feel better it will be worth it.’

‘Do you mean it, David? Can I really?’

‘Yes, I mean if you want to call me a jolly old rotter and George a bit of a baddy, that really is fine. Of course I will have to have a pop back. I have a party to worry about too Nick,  but I’m only going to say pooh fiddlesticks, nothing too heavy.’

‘And you don’t think it kind of means we will get into the habit as the Parliament drags on and then that, closer to an election, you might actually find a reason, you know, to dump me and go our separate ways.’

‘Well, let’s cross that bridge when we come to it, Nick. We’ve come too far to fall out over something as silly as a referendum on a miserable little compromise, surely? Now, let’s go and see what the girls are up to.’

‘Thanks for being so understanding David.’

‘Don’t you worry about a thing. Look, you’re a star Nick, a big fish in a big pond. A year ago, you were a nobody. Now you have boxes, bodyguards, your own Question Time in Parliament. You go to summits and stay in Embassies and have lovely dinners at lovely places like this. You’ll be at the wedding … all dressed up in morning suit. What fun!

‘I see they’re even making a musical about you Nick … what could be better?’

  • Deanperry08

    ‘Do you mean it, David? Can I really?’ hahaha classic! You should write a play Alastair

  • lusina

    Hello Nick. Have a nice Easter. It’s the only relief you can get up to Referendum Day. Thereafter, let the deluge blow and cover well your head (and back).

  • David Blythin

    So accurate, well done Alastair.

  • Right in every respect except one. Clegg is perfectly happy to be cutting all the things you list.

  • Quinney

    ” And Nick when it all goes wrong, when there’s a Portillo moment at the next election when you loose your Sheffield Hallam seat I’ll guarantee you a nice safe tory seat..”

  • Olli Issakainen

    David Cameron is worried what “No” vote on AV would do to Mr Clegg.
    Bad local election results would also harm Clegg. Chris Huhne is said to be ready to be the next leader of the Lib Dems.
    AV referendum was the price to enter the coalition with the Conservatives. With “No” vote the grass roots might think that it is time to end the coalition. Mr Cameron must be ready to offer more concessions to the Lib Dems to keep the coalition together.
    The support for the Lib Dems is down to 10% from 33% before the election. Nick Clegg´s personal ratings have crashed.
    Mr Clegg is now thinking about rebranding his party. New name and logo could be on the cards. The word “social” might enter the name. Mr Clegg wants voters to believe that his party is still left wing.
    The Lib Dems have had some effect on tax policy. They are also forcing the government to think again on the NHS.
    But the truth is that the Tory-led government is radically right wing. The Lib Dems have not made it progressive enough.
    The Lib Dems face a meltdown in the coming elections. It is too late for rebranding.
    And no spin doctor in the world can change the image of Mr Clegg.
    In order to survive, the Lib Dems must elect Mr Huhne as the new leader and change direction completely. They must leave the coalition before it destroys Britain´s economy with its ideological cuts, and form a partnership with Labour.

  • And then Clegg went to bed and slept on it all, woke up thinking he’d dreamed it but, just in case it was true, went out and did as planned because he wouldn’t want to upset his new buddy.

    Meanwhile, the LibDems are desperately silent.

    But, fear not, Labour IS the true voice that will be heard again.

    Playing games with the voters might be politically appealing but trying to fool the punters is an outdated version of oneupmanship. The New Media are ahead of you and you never know where a microphone might be hanging around, switched on.

    That’s the only time we really hear the truth.

  • Richard

    What are you on today, Olli?
    AC’s blogg is pretty well on the mark, I believe.
    The spat over AV is orchestrated: the local election results will be aweful for the Coalition and both parties need the five year term to turn round their fortunes. Hughes on Andrew Marr this morning as good as confirmed that a fall out was impossible.

    ………..and Tessa Jowell was the best your team could furnish to explain how well your campaign was going.

    Where is adenoid Ed?

  • Scooke7

    Herr Goebbels,
    Well done. You did not earn the the “spin doctor” moniker for nothing. Even if the actual conversation between Nick & Dave was a bit less eventful, you’ve managed to make it much more colourful.
    What comes across to me is how bitter Labour people are that the Lib-Dems and Tories are in a coalition. There is almost a “how dare these Lib-Dems get into govt. AHEAD of Labour” in these comments.
    It seems Labour have forgotten what the elections results were last May. Yes, we all know the Tories did not win a majority in spite of the Murdoch press backing. But given the results, what EXACTLY did Labour want? A coalition with the Lib-Dems was not going to work given the numbers AND was opposed by people like John Reid, David Blunkett etc. A “grand union” coalition with the Tories? NO CHANCE !!!
    The only workable solution was/is the Lib-Dems & Tories. Are they unpopular? Yes. But if Labour were SO popular, why did they lose the election and why did it take 18 years before they won in 1997? Your mate TB had a landslide majority. And yet for the first 2 years, GB stuck to the Tories spending limits Why? And then, Labour went on a crazy (my council tax went up 13% in 2000) tax and spend spree. Being in govt. is about doing the right thing and not just about being popular.
    Being in govt. is also about compromises. Even when it is just 1 political party, there different parts of the party that need to be kept happy. So, there is no surprise that this is even more difficult when there are 2 parties.
    The AV referendum was one of the things that the coalition agreed on. What I hope is that there is a strong (80%+) turnout and that the result is decisive, either way. It may or may not weaken the coalition. But, at least, democracy would be strengthened. Of course, in the event, there’ll probably be a 30% turnout and if the Yes campaign wins, Britain will have an electoral system that 70% didn’t want. It’s not that bad. After all, when Saint TB won the ’97 election, Labour only got 24%+ of the vote. And look what they did with it !

  • Dave Simons

    Just two quibbles, Olli. First, a substantial proportion of the UK electorate is forcing the government to think again about the presentation of its long-standing, long-term policy of privatising the NHS, which the Conservative Party has hated since its inception in 1948. The Conservative Party is not thinking again about this fundamental policy, and the LibDem leadership is doing nothing but support them – it was the rank and file at the Spring Conference in Sheffield recently that voted against the ‘reforms’, not Nick Clegg.
    Second, David Cameron is not worried about the effect a ‘No’ vote on AV will have on Nick Clegg. A ‘No’ vote on AV – which will almost certainly happen – will be translated as a ‘Yes’ vote for David Cameron and the Tories. A bit of nice weather, the aftermath of the Festival of Reaction (aka the Royal Wedding), a couple of body blows for the LibDems, a bickering Coalition, Labour still repositioning itself and with a leader still cutting his teeth – OK boys and girls, let’s end the increasing uncertainty and anxiety in the country and go for an early General Election ahead of the LibDem’s fixed-term parliaments.
    And sadly it might pay off and we’ll be stuck with a minority unadulterated Tory government for another five years.

  • Dave Simons

    Can we just clarify some points? The five-year-term business is in process rather than in place, despite what the media have been saying since last early summer. Do you really think the Conservatives need it? I’ll be convinced by some evidence. I think they’d prefer the present system. Why? Because a lot of them say so.
    When you say the local election results will be awful for the Coalition, do you mean for the Coalition as a functioning government, or do you mean the results will be awful for the LibDems and the Conservatives? If the former I think you’re right. If the latter I think you’re wrong – the Conservatives will probably gain from the LibDems in a lot of places. I wasn’t aware that the Conservatives needed to turn round their fortunes – they’ve been getting an easy ride at the expense of the LibDems for nearly a year. If we had an early General Election the Conservatives would probably win enough seats to be able to form a functioning minority government. You won’t tell them, will you?
    Simon Hughes on Andrew Marr may well have said what you quote him as saying, but then would you expect him to say anything else at this stage? As you and I know, nothing is impossible, except maybe the likelihood of a professional politician being straight with the electorate.

  • Pam

    This sensible post is wasted on this lot.


  • Gilliebc

    Great blog post AC. That is my take on the situation also. That “script” of your’s Mr. C. would have been more than worthy of a “Spitting Image” sketch, back in the day!

  • Simon

    Had Labour gone into coalition with the Libs, of course, they’d have agreed on everything. Absolutely everything.

  • Would a sensible post REALLY begin with ‘Herr Goebbels’?

  • Mrs D

    Aw poor Nick. But this is HILARIOUS! (Hope nobody sues you)

  • Abcg

    Having watched mr marr today – im thinking what a pity Simon Hughes did not read this script !

  • A.Roberts.

    The problem is Scooke 7, This government is absolute rubbish, – I cant honestly see one step they have taken thats been good for the country.

    You might not like the last Labour government,but at least they were reasonably competent. And to think this lot have another 4 years to run!!

    Gawd elp us!!

  • A.Nonymous

    I find it quite interesting, you have quite a nice take on what you think happens between Clegg and Cameron. Do you not think that when you were in number 10 people were saying this about you, Blair and the oil companies. Of course you and Blair were Clegg and the oil companies were the ones with the power. Not that you met with oil compa…. oh wait it turns out you did and then everyone lied about it. Oh and when Blair talked with Murdoch representatives about the phone hacking…. No I think your take on it is probably quite accurate.

  • Dave Simons

    Not at all, Pam. There are some good points in Scooke7’s post. I think we could manage without the repetitious ‘Herr Goebbels’ intro though as it just lowers the tone of the contribution. There is absolutely no comparison between Goebbels and Alastair Campbell, as anyone with any experience of 1930s Germany will, I’m sure, agree.
    A lot of people – not just Labour supporters – are bitter about the LibDems because they have memories. They remember Nick Clegg’s lies from last spring about how he represented a new type of politics based on principle. Principle soon went out of the window when the possibility of power beckoned, and in practice he’s just been used by the ‘nasty party’. As a result he’s effectively damned the LibDems to oblivion, possibly for ever, and the LibDem rank and file know it.
    We know very well that Labour lost the election last May, though not as badly as some of us expected. What we also know, and you know, is that, despite media support, the Tories did not win a big enough majority to be able to govern. I would have preferred a LibDem/Labour Coalition on grounds that it would have been preferable to the current Coalition, which has been effectively a minority Conservative government kept in business by LibDem support.
    I don’t think AV has a cat in hell’s chance of winning in the coming referendum, especially on a low turn-out, but my goodness aren’t the Conservatives playing dirty even on the miniscule likelihood of it winning? But then they’ve had over three hundred years’ practice at playing dirty and, let’s face it, that’s what they they’re all about and always have been. But let’s keep grovelling and voting for them, and the Duke of Rutland will still be the Duke of Rutland in a thousand years, as he claims to have been a thousand years ago.

  • Gilliebc

    “If we had an early General Election The Conservatives would probably win enough seats to be able to form a functioning minority government”

    I’m not so sure about that Dave. I visit quite a few blog sites of every colour and the thing that stands out on most of them is peoples’ disappointment with this Tory Led government and in many cases their hatred of Cameron. I believe if Labour had a better leader that could get across the message that is was the banks that caused the crash then they would be in with a very good chance of returning to government.
    Whether that would be a good thing, I’m not too sure about. As I’ve said before on AC’s site, democracy in this country is just an illusion. All the main parties simply carry out the orders of the wealthy (ruling) elite. Party Politics is a silly meaningless, money spinning game, where we the electorate end up worse off under each successive government.

  • Gilliebc

    @ John Kelly – Exactly, Scooke7 is an idiot and has been told of his damn stupid form of address to AC before. The infrequently posting Pam is also an idiot. She left this site in high dudgeon a few months ago, making a big song and dance about it, lol! Only to return again recently to post the same old rubbish and probably thinking no one would remember her! Well some of us have very good memories, especially for people of that type i.e. Trolls.

  • Anonymous

    Cameron is all for ‘leg up’ internships….Wonder where this leg up will send intern Clegg?

  • Scooke7

    But all governments do “bad” things. Who introduced university tuition fees WITHOUT putting it in their manifesto? Would anyone have voted for St. TB in ’97 if they knew Labour were going to do that? If Labour were “reasonably competent”, why did they lose the election?
    I’m always very cautious about criticising the people in govt. because I believe that one must have an alternative, a workable alternative. The way AC spouts off in his blog is just criticism for its own sake and some bitterness that Labour are not in power. Does anyone really think that AC & his family are personally affected by this govt’s policies? This is a man who had to come on here to ask for arguments to put forward before his appearance on BBC QT? Was this because in his own little world in Hampstead everything was hunky dory? OK. never mind that he did that, after all he’s wants to talk about the unfortunate people. But to then ask for arguments from a Finnish person who is even more disconnected from everyday British life? Really? OK, don’t mind even that. So, what’s the alternative from our friend from Finland? A Keynesian-style increased govt. spending to grow the economy during recession. See, the problem I have with that is that Keynes also said that when the economy is growing, govt. spending should be LESS than revenue. So, that the govt. will have money to spend during recession. But did Labour do that? No, after the first 2 years, Labour taxed & spent even when the economy was growing. They even got some “free” money to do that, £22.5 billion from 3G licences. So, spend when the economy is growing and spend even when the economy is in recession. Huge budget deficit? Never mind. Just keep chanting “progressive” and the deficit will magically fall and even turn into surplus.
    The time to judge any govt. is at the election. Govt. policies don’t benefit or ruin the country in 1 year. It take much longer. If this coalition runs to full term, then we will get the chance to judge them in 2015.

  • Scooke7

    Well done you ! Name calling is always the best way to win an argument isn’t it? Who cares about the issues and cogent points made to support them? Give yourself a HUGE pat on the back. For his part in authoring the propaganda that led to UK participation in Iraq, I will always refer to AC as Goebbels. I suspect I won’t be the only one.

  • Gilliebc

    Nicely put Dave and accurate too imho.

  • Gilliebc

    The problem is Scooke if you insist on calling AC “Goebbels” then your sometimes good points are completely lost.
    You have made this point yourself in your first 3 sentences in your reply to me! Therefore, I strongly suggest you take your own “advice”
    You are constantly shooting yourself in the foot by refering to AC as Goebbels. If you can’t see this fact then you truly are an idiot. Surely you can’t want to go on proving me right on this one?
    Come on now Scooke, I think you’ve become a bit fixated on this “Goebbels” thing and it’s certainly not doing you any favours whatsoever. Quite the opposite actually, which is a shame.

  • Dave Simons

    Thanks Gillie – your first paragraph is very reassuring and I hope you’re right. As for the second paragraph I remember hearing the late Paul Foot years ago saying the difference between the Tories and Labour is that the Tories are part of the wealthy ruling elite whereas Labour just ends up doing what the wealthy ruling elite want them to do. He must have had some interesting exchanges with his cousin, Michael, on that issue!

  • Chris lancashire

    How are things going in Scotland at the moment Mr Campbell?