If this was part of Clegg's 'masochism strategy' there wasn't much pain
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. As Political Editor and then Chief Political Commentator, he previously covered the John Major and early Tony Blair era. He has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Times, Times and Sunday Telegraph, and Sunday Correspondent. He is the author of Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (2000).
Thursday 10 January 2013
The decisive moment came early in the first of Nick Clegg’s weekly radio phone-ins on LBC, when ex-Lib Dem county councillor John from Surrey, who had torn up his party membership card, said he was “just wondering” if the Deputy Prime Minister had his own card on him. “Not on me right now,” the party leader replied. “Do you remember what it says on it?” asked John. “Yes,” said Clegg.
This was the fork in the road. It is only fair to say that if Clegg felt a second’s sheer, full-onset, bowel-churning panic, he showed no sign of it. Maybe he doesn’t carry his card because he knows every word of its contents by heart. But the point is that John didn’t ask him to recite them, despite the frivolous hopes of some of us listeners.
And if even John, who had left the party after 30 years because was so “ashamed” of what he saw as its betrayal of the principles inscribed on the card and which he proceeded to read out on air (“values of liberty, equality and community ... no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity” and suchlike), was not going to test his memory, then it was a fair bet the leader was going to get a fairly easy ride.
Which, by and large, he did. True, the only supportive questioner, and the last - asking whether he had ever worn a “onesie” - was a Lib Dem from Clegg’s own political base of Sheffield. After admitting that he had been given a “big green” version of the inexplicably popular adult babygro equivalent but that it was still “in its packaging”, he later mysteriously amplified this at a press gallery lunch to say that he had “held it against my person”.
He was asked by presenter Nick Ferrari if he would be prepared to don it in public for charity. “It’s almost certainly something I would do in the privacy of my own home,” he replied guardedly. And then only at gunpoint, he did not need to add.
But while there were plenty of criticisms, especially on tuition fees, benefits and defence cuts - and he postively revelled in the Coalition’s split over Europe, saying somewhat optimistically that David Cameron would be making his much-trailed EU speech as “Conservative leader” - there was no Belgrano moment. (As in when the geography teacher Diane Gould infuriated Margaret Thatcher on BBC Nationwide during the 1983 election by challenging her to admit that an Argentinian warship had been sunk while steaming away from the Falklands).
So if this was part of his “masochism strategy” to rebuild the party’s image after a string of bad Lib Dem by-election results (“at least we were in the top 10!” he later joked about coming eighth at Rotherham) there wasn’t much pain. Perhaps that will come in subsequent weeks. Meanwhile, Clegg should probably memorise the text on his party card - in the unlikely event he hasn’t already done so.
- 1 Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 4 Zayn Malik on Israel-Gaza: One Direction singer bombarded with Twitter death threats after posting #FreePalestine
- 5 'Hello mum, this is going to be hard for you to read ...'
Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
Sally Farmiloe dead: Howards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, dies aged 60
Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
Australian model Robyn Lawley stages naked protest against huge coal mine seven times the size of Sydney Harbour
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
- < Previous
- Next >
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MAN...
£50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A unique and rare opport...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...
£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Qualified and experi...