Matthew Norman: Good on you, Nick, for hitting back

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The Independent Online

It probably isn't brilliant politics. It will do him personally not one iota of good, and the manner of it cannot be called distinguished. Yet there comes a time in the life of the perpetually abused wife when, damn the consequences, all you want is to see her throw acid in the abuser's face. And so today we deploy one of the unlikelier four-word phrases in the language, and declare this: well done, Nick Clegg.

If there was a petulant tone to his announcement that he would kill the boundary changes in revenge for the Tories slaying constitutional reforms less palatable to them than being gifted up to 20 extra seats, small wonder about that. The maltreatment of the Liberal Democrats has been cushion-bitingly embarrassing to observe, if less so than Clegg's failure until now to resist it.

The decisive act of betrayal in this macabre tale came not this week, but last year when the Prime Minister tacitly backed the character assassination of Clegg during the AV referendum campaign. It was sneakily brutal of him to do this, and a less docile creature than his deputy would not have tolerated it.

Finally, he has cottoned on to the clichéd truth that traitorous bullies, even those like Mr Cameron with smiles on their faces, respond only to being bullied back. Clegg has made atrocious mistakes, and to some extent been the enabler of his own abuse. This is not one of those occasions. Even those of us who have long wished him out of our misery, and replaced by a Vince Cable who'd never have stood for the betrayal of the letter and spirit of the Coalition agreement in the first place, must congratulate him.

There was nothing magnificent in this undisguised act of vengeance, but finally Clegg is playing the game as it has to be played. Ce *'est pas magnifique, to reverse the comment made about an earlier leader who led his troops into the valley of death, mais c'est la guerre.