Nick Clegg + Hung Parliament = Scapegoat?
Poor Nick Clegg. I doubt he has – as I overheard someone suggest today – been ‘enjoying the glory’. I doubt he has enjoyed emails, Tweets or blogs that have labelled him a traitor or watching BBC News where viewers sent in messages accusing him of holding the country to ransom and revelled in it. I doubt he has enjoyed the feeling of being loved one week and vilified the next. I very much doubt he has enjoyed his lack of sleep, endless questions and dubious media coverage. One thing, however, I’m sure he has revelled in is the opportunity to make a decision that could have profoundly positive consequences for both his party and his country. I believe that’s probably the kind of thing that gives him a reason to carry on, when – to be honest – he’s faced some appalling abuse.
In the run up to the election, the word Kingmaker was being bandied about. Everyone knew it was going to happen: there would be a hung parliament and Clegg would have some considerable clout. We were prepared for it – we even expected Lib Dems to have more seats. Suddenly a hung parliament situation was upon us and many – not all, perhaps not even the majority but many – reacted in panic. Clegg stuck to his guns: the right thing, he said, was to let the Conservatives try to form a government. He never guaranteed a Lib Dem/Conservative coalition I hasten to add. Yet he was utterly slammed. I even read one Tweet from someone who seemed outraged that Nick Clegg hadn’t proved himself a liar over earlier ‘most seats etc’ comments.
So, post-election Conservatives seemed quite happy but many Labour supporters were outraged and a fair few Lib Dem supporters. Then, Clegg did the sensible thing and opened up talks with Labour. It seemed a sensible thing to me anyway. Some people deliberate over whether to buy Tetley or Yorkshire Tea and we think nothing of it. But deliberate over the best way to serve your country and your party and apparently you’re some kind of power-mad showboater. Home this evening to find talks have dried up with Labour and he is back to talking with the Conservatives. It’s so funny how suddenly people who were condemning him are back on side – and vice versa.
So, in summary, I don’t think it’s Nick Clegg’s week. I don’t think he’s a showboating, power-mad, glory-hunter. I think he’s human. He’s a father, a man with a job to do, a man who cares about his country. He’s also a man with very broad shoulders – he must be to be carrying the weight of such bitterness, scorn and – overall – fear and still seem to have such pride and conviction.
Well, for the record, here’s one supporter who is still firmly in his corner, whatever decision he reaches.