Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Punched Out

So Nick Clegg isn't a human punch bag, eh? More proof, if any were needed, that he and his chums in the Tory Lickspittles are basically rank amateurs when it comes to professional politics. Really, what did he think was going to happen once he attained a position of authority? I know that he was used to simply being leader of the Tory Lickspittles, a party seen as a bit of a joke and unlikely ever to gain power. Consequently, the kind of criticisms he experienced whilst in opposition were pretty limited. But the fact is that he's in government now, and that means having to take the flak, fairly or unfairly, for the decisions made by that government. It's a fundamental principle of British parliamentary democracy: collective cabinet responsibility. As soon as he went into coalition with the Tories, as soon as he accepted the thirty pieces of silver in form of the job title of Deputy Prime Minister, he assumed responsibility for every policy decision, whether he agreed with it or not. But, it seems, Nick isn't very good at accepting responsibility, let alone criticism.

Still, all the signs were there in the general election campaign: whenever Clegg was put under pressure by voters asking difficult questions, he reacted badly. It was quite obvious that he isn't good under pressure. An impression reinforced by his stumbling performances when standing in for Cameron at Prime Minister's Question Time. So I'm not really surprised to see him whining on about how unfair it is that he takes all this crap from protesters. But why is he so surprised that a lot of the abuse is directed at him personally? If you effectively abandon most of your manifesto promises in return for the promise of a referendum on electoral reform, (a referendum, mind, not actual reform itself), and a fancy job title, what do you expect? Nobody forced Clegg to sign that pre-election pledge on student fees, yet now he doesn't see why he should take any criticism, let alone responsibility, for reneging on it. That's the other aspect to Clegg's whining that sticks in my craw: the implication that this 'personal' criticism he has to face is somehow unfair. The reality is that there's nothing 'personal' in it - it's not his family being targeted, or his private life being splashed across the front pages. On the contrary, it all stems from his failure to deliver on the promises he made in opposition and the way in which he is apparently prepared to compromise his principles for power. All perfectly legitimate lines of attack. But Hell, what else should we expect from 'Calamity' Clegg?



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