Simon Carr: I can't get enough of Clegg – and with AV, that won't be a problem

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The Independent Online

Is that pro-AV campaign really going to be able to prevail over the people who are supporting it? The main proponent is Britain's leading leper (no offence, leprosy sufferers). Nick Clegg says whenever he can, "My party manifesto is very clear," but without the coda, "that it's not going to tell you what we're going to do."

Under a voting system which makes Liberal Democrats part of the constitution, this is quite an important point. Vote for AV and get Nick Clegg in every cabinet between now and the end of World War Three. Is that working for you? I can't get enough of him myself but it's a rare taste, as for devilled haemorrhoids. If voters really don't like their current experience of political hot-dogging then AV simply can't win, whatever the polls say.

Clegg was in the House batting aside talk of something Labour called "broken promises". Harriet Harman said there was a new word in the language for comprehensive betrayal (there isn't). Goodness knows what it is to have been Harmaned. But then, looking over modern Britain, we probably all have been.

She said he had promised more police and now there were going to be fewer police. He'd said there wasn't going to be a VAT rise and look: a VAT rise. Someone may have mentioned tuition fees – apparently there was something about that last year.

And then there was that joke Clegg made, if it was a joke, about not being sure if he was running the country when Cameron was away. John Mann declared in a large, oracular manner, like a self-important hermit, "Wot is the point of Nick Clegg?" He should at least be able to spell his questions properly.

Clegg had already given his account of that to Tory Andrea Leadsom. "What steps has he taken to restore public trust in politics?" she'd asked, deadpan. There were shouts of quite harsh laughter from Labour as Clegg talked about his register for lobbyists and his reform of the House of Lords, and fixed-term parliaments.

The Bill detailing the reform of the House of Lords hasn't been finalised (obviously), so we don't know whether they'll go for a fully or partly elected House.

Clegg's party manifesto is doubtless very clear on that, whatever it says, but what with the advent of a critical mass of Labour partisans and whips, the whole institution is already in a handcart just waiting for a push off. It may not even need reform to send it on its way.



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