THE COMPANY HE KEEPS
Why can it be that mentioning Nick Clegg’s advisers to MPs and peers normally provokes a bout of eye-rolling?
Clegg’s advisers are, for the most part, bright young people (with a few older and wiser heads), who presumably have his interests at heart and, since he is leader, presumably those of the party too.
One problem has been their inexperience and willingness to sign off as OK on disaster areas like the Health Bill, which any parliamentarian with a modicum of political experience and nous could have seen was a trap to be avoided.
Another is their tin ear for communications with the party. When Liberal Democrats secured the important gain of preventing the government from ditching the Dilnot Commission report’s proposals on financing social care, this might have been something to report to the public, or at the very least to party members.
Instead, there was a missive from the Clegg-bunker worthy of Comical Ali himself on the “triumph” on Lords’ reform. This referred to the vote in principle on the subject, a meaningless win since the programme motion could not be passed and the whole thing was quickly abandoned.
Every media source instead reported, correctly, that this debacle had been a serious setback for the party’s attempts to introduce constitutional reform.
As one parliamentarian noted: “Some of the e-mails sent out by people working for Nick Clegg are one of the reasons that members have been so pissed off over the last year, undermining any of his personal efforts at meet the members events.”
Meanwhile, Clegg’s team have another conundrum with which to amuse themselves. After the indifferent 2010 general election result, and the catastrophe of the AV referendum, it is felt unlikely that Lord Sharkey, who presided over both, will be invited to have a third try.
So who should run the 2015 general election campaign? The smart money is on Olly Grender, a veteran of general elections back to 1992 and a party member for even longer. Given the lack of experienced campaigners with any clout around Clegg, she may not find the competition too tough.
Also in Radical Bulletin 355:
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- HITTING THE BOUNDARIES
- FORKED TONGUES
- UP THE WRONG TREE
- THE ELECTION THAT NEVER WAS
- ABSENT FRIENDS
- FALLING OFF DEFENCE
- FE FLAT FOOTED
- MODERN JAZZ
- RB EXTRA: MID-TERM BLUES