Oliver Duff

i Editor's Letter: Does Mr Clegg deserve to go?

 

Share

 

How quickly should politicians wield the knife against their leader when the going gets tough? Two hundred Liberal Democrat activists, including a couple of parliamentary candidates, want Nick Clegg to defenestrate himself now to limit the damage at the ballot box next May. This would, they think, let them regroup around a new leader, perhaps Vince Cable.

I burn no candle for Mr Clegg, but his record in Government is nowhere near as bad as his critics claim. The Lib Dems have won economic credibility in office, but lost trust on public services, especially education (tuition fees) and the NHS.

Among Mr Clegg’s achievements, he can point to reducing tax for the lowest earners, introducing the pupil premium, the Green Deal and same-sex marriage, winning (but then losing) a referendum on voting reform, vetoing deeper welfare cuts, boosting apprenticeships, abolishing ID cards and stalling a Trident replacement. The Lib Dems have pulled the choke lead on some of their more excitable ministerial colleagues and in the next year the Coalition parties must point to the prospect of economic growth.

Mr Clegg’s decision to debate Nigel Farage on Europe is being written up as foolish, a great mistake. It was certainly at cost to himself and his party, but compare that willingness to debate with the cowardice of David Cameron and Ed Miliband. Which would you prefer?

It is also worth remembering how little room for manoeuvre Mr Clegg had in May 2010. He could not prop up Labour, a party ejected from office. If he refused to enter Coalition with the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats would have been accused of leaving Britain in limbo at a time of economic uncertainty, of bottling their one shot at power. Cameron, meanwhile, would have had to listen more to headbangers on the right.

So does Mr Clegg deserve to go? No. But where can he take the party next? His troops want answers – a progressive vision – and he may have less time than he hopes.

i@independent.co.uk.

Twitter.com: @olyduff

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee