“It seems to me that it’s just preposterous, the idea that if a party comes third in terms of the number of votes, it still has the right to carry on squatting in No 10.” That was Nick Clegg two weeks before the last general election. (He was talking about Gordon Brown’s Labour.)
Now the Deputy Prime Minister asks us for another five years.
Mr Clegg, it is easy to forget, was damned either way: hold a minority government hostage while getting nothing in return, or accept the responsibility of sharing power, with the betrayal of manifesto that entailed. He will not be forgiven by supporters burnt by the raising of tuition fees or reforms of the NHS. But in his polished performance yesterday, Mr Clegg listed some tangible achievements in government: blocking the “Snooper’s Charter”, inheritance tax cuts for millionaires, regional pay bargaining and the revival of O-levels. He lauded the rise in personal tax-free earnings to £10,000, something in which many Conservatives now take pride. Credit to Mssrs Cameron and Clegg for carefully managing their imperfect alliance. But asking the electorate for a mandate to compromise again, as Mr Clegg now does, will be a hard sell.
Our Arts Editor, David Lister, and design wallah, Nick Donaldson, are sprucing up i’s Friday arts and entertainment section. At the moment we bring you five pages of potted reviews and listings. From next month, every Friday morning, we will also carry film and music interviews and new columns on television, comedy, and rock and pop – a meatier read for you ahead of the weekend. We look forward to hearing what you think.