December 18, 2007

Nick Clegg

So Clegg has won the LibDem leadership contest, not knowing much about the man I can't really say much about what this means, but it might be worth casting an outsider's eye on it just because I am precisely the type of person, in this case, who the Libdems will want to appeal to (someone who doesn't know as much as he should about their party). The only thing I really know about Clegg is this- he is young and fresh and new. He won't frighten anyone and looks presentable on TV- basically he is David Cameron with a yellow rosette in presentational terms. The problem I have with that is that it will be interesting how he separates out his profile from Cameron's. LibDem leaders have often done best at times when the major parties are in meltdown like the nineties or early 2000s- and its possible that Clegg if he makes it to the next election or the one after next will be in that position again visa vis Labour. But LibDem leaders both in the late nineties and early 2000s were distinct from the new young things in the party doing well- then Tony Blair. Paddy Ashdown's action man image and Charles Kennedy's understated and self deprecating Scottish burr were a thousand miles away from Blair's evangelistic glamour- in a sense more than any policy platform the identity of the leadership meant that the Libdems established a national profile. Clegg worries me in that sense for the Liberals- and I wonder whether the more cerebral Huhne might have been a more distinctive choice. With Clegg you get the feeling that the voters might decide they want the real nice clean handsome young PR boy and vote for Cameron.

Its a minor worry and a mere thought- but I do wonder whether the LibDems made a collossal mistake when they got rid of Kennedy, who is one of the few natural communicators left in politics- the sort of bloke you'd meet down the pub, a bit like Ken Clarke. Neither Cameron nor Brown has that appeal and I'm not sure that Clegg does either. It'll be interesting to see how they differentiate Clegg's personal story from the "liberal conservative" sitting just down from him in the House of Commons.


Anonymous said...

Very thoughtful piece. But ultimately this was a narrow escape for the Lib Dems. Huhne would have been a disaster. Especially given his hypocrisy over share holdings and his dysfunctional family life with his estrangement from his stepdaughters. Which would not have played out well at the General Election.

Gracchi said...

I don't know about dirt on Huhne- so I won't comment on that. Thanks for the compliment.