Wednesday, April 21, 2010

At last, they're sobering up to the charms of Mr Clegg

Drunk on the sweet, comforting soft words of the new pin-up boy of British politics, many voters are now waking up to a dreadful hangover and a sobering realisation that Clegg is actually not what he at first seemed.

Far from being a man of the people, this is a man who has enjoyed in his very understated words a 'very lucky' upbringing. Many of us would call it privileged, elitist, establishment and far from average. The fact that it was all of those things is not an issue - there is not an ounce of jealousy, avarice or envy for any of that. The issue is that he seeks to be something he is not - he may never have denied his background, but he was happy to bask in the sunshine as the media and Labour poured hot scorn over David Cameron's. The difference though is that Cameron has always been very up front about it. Clegg is embarrassed and suddenly, we see a chink in his armour.

Then of course we have the expenses scandal. Clegg offers to 'restore the pride' in our parliament by removing the stench and causes of expenses corruption. The hypocrite. All the time he is making these claims, always as if it's been about all those other MPs, he was happily dipping his hand into the pool of taxpayer funds to make a claim on several houses, to buy three new kitchens, hire a gardener, buy pots and pans and cushions form IKEA, all for the house in his Sheffield constituency - at the tax payer's expense. In a twist to this, under scrutiny by Andrew Neal, he oddly described his house as a modest, pebble-dashed affair and that is was actually not his house at all, it was 'your house', a house owned and paid for by the taxpayer, which he was privileged to live in. This whole episode shows lack of propriety and poor ethics and even worse moral standards.

The latest revelation for Mr Clegg, our man for all seasons, of the people, for the people, for which the term primus inter pares really does apply, is that he omitted to mention that he ever worked for a lobby firm. For some reason he thought it was not necessary because it was for such a short period of time within his working life. The real fact is because so many senior and prominent MPs were caught selling themselves to provide influence and access to government for pecuniary advantage, he thought he would avoid the danger of being implicated, however innocent his position was. However, this is the man who spoke of the dangers of powerful lobbyists and his desire to clear up this whole area of British politics. If that was the case, it would have been more honest to have come clean and told voters that he had actually been a lobbyist for a very short period of time and that would have been the end of the matter. The fact that he has chosen to be so secretive leaves one to question his motives and his integrity.

Whatever his reasons, to deceive or not in relation to all of these individual matters raises more questions about Nick Cleggs's veracity, his judgement and honesty. As the media bear down even harder on Clegg and the Liberal Democrats (the donor issue is not yet done with), he had better pray that there's nothing else he should have mentioned because there's no wrath like that of the British voter.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Who'd have thought it?

Here we are with 18 days to go, or thereabouts, and as expected we're all discussing the prospects of a rather clean, smooth, softly spoken silver tongued, well healed, public school and Oxbridge educated establishment figure who could (by all accounts) catapult himself into the top job on May 7th. We are of course not talking about David Cameron anymore, we're talking about Nick Clegg.

So what's different about him? Um, not sure really. He is everything David Cameron is - similar in age, similar background, similar tones and accent. Also like David Cameron, he leads one of the oldest political parties in the world. Suddenly though he's being hailed as the new Messiah, the second coming, based on what exactly? If we're truthful, no-one is really that sure.

The policies of the Liberal Democrats are old hat. There is nothing new. Clegg has no big idea, no vision, no great set of new values he wants Britain to adopt, yet he's being described as Britain's version of Obama. In actual fact, he's really just quite ordinary, but nobody really noticed the squeak from the corner of the House of Commons - indeed, he's been eclipsed by Vince Cable for so long everyone thought Cable was the leader of the Lib Dems and then suddenly he hit Susan Boyle stardom.

Putting his criminal conviction to one side and his unashamed promiscuity and youthful drug taking, with bouts of excessive drinking on holidays, his politics are same old, same old well trodden lefty nonsense. He's awfully pro-Europe, a unilateralist who'd surrender our armed forces to save on defence spending, someone who opposes nuclear power and the burning of fossil fuels, he is horribly anti-American and wants us to examine closer integration with the EU and a single currency, and also wants to wage war on the Golden Goose of the British economy, the financial sector. This has all the hallmarks of Labour 1983.

Oh well, the country has seen him in one debate and they'll be expecting more of the same. He's already trying to establish some credibility with old-time Tory voters by expressing how much he admires Margaret Thatcher. Now he's being critical of things done in Europe. Where he'll really score is over the policies of engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, if Cameron is clever, he'll take a tack which suggests that we owe it to those who've died to continue this war, to protect our borders from terrorism and this horrific assault on our values.  It wasn't a war we'd have chosen to fight, but it was necessary and we must support our allies and continue to make our contribution to global stability.

By implication, Clegg would have abandoned the cause, unilaterally withdrawn and insulted the memory of those brave service people who have died or were injured, damaging profoundly our relationship with the United States and besmirching the good name of the UK.

A week is indeed a very long time in politics and with two and a half weeks left and everything to play for in the political careers, hopes and aspirations of the contenders for No10, absolutely anything is possible. But, one prediction is for certain - Labour has lost this election but could potentially be saved by our voting system and Nick Clegg. My money is still on Cameron.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's NOT all over

I cannot believe what I am reading from so many so-called Tory voters - what a bunch of fair weathered friends they are. Precisely one debate has taken place and so many people are proclaiming the game's up, and worse still some are deserting the Conservatives and uniting with  fringe extremists of the right or anti-Europe parties or worse still Clegg’s (Old Labour) Liberal Democrats to wreck any chance we have of saving majority government and electing Cameron.

A democratic party needs to be a broad church of views and opinions with an underlying agreement on values. I resigned my membership of the Tory party the day Margaret Thatcher was politically assassinated by that traitor Heseltine, because I was affronted by what had happened and because I felt the party was abandoning everything we had fought for and could be proud of.

Time moved on, Bair reigned unchallenged and undefeated by three successive post-Major Tory leaders, then David Cameron came along - love him or like him – and has developed the best opportunity in 13 years to overturn an inept Labour government. The strategy he has followed is not one I totally agree with but I am a Tory voter and although I am more anti-European, harder on crime, immigration and social issues than DC, overall I can accept the underlying values and tenets of Conservative party policy.  The fact is there is no other party with which I can so readily identify across such a broad range of issues, so I find myself committed to voting Conservative.

I agree entirely with Matthew d’Ancona’s view that it’s not all over and still there for the taking. I have written on various blogs recently about Cameron needing to develop some ‘mongrel’ as they say here in NZ, which is the ability to project a sense of strength, menace and threat towards one’s opponents.

Cameron’s coming across as a jolly nice patrician, playing by Queensbury Rules – he needs to kill the patriarch and rip up the rule books, roll up his sleeves and street fight his way to Number 10. To do this, everyone who has a loathing of the new and old left needs to support him. Clegg is a socialist, a Europhile, a defeatist and unilateralist – he is the smiling, charming face of old Labour values, in a smart suit. He’s branded a centrist because no-one wasted time to examine what he really stands for, because none of us ever perceived a threat from him, but the scrutiny reveals that he is Labour’s conscience.

Do not be deluded, a vote against the Tories, whoever one votes for will allow Gordon Brown back in to Downing Street. Stay loyal, vote Cameron.

Clegg: the wolf in sheep's clothing

I am amazed, apparently Nick Clegg is the new messiah - Britain's saviour from the torture of the two-party system that has governed Britain for most of its democratic existence. However, dig a little deeper and what you'll find is something rather sinister - the smooth, soothing appeal of Nick Clegg has a darker side - he's a euro-fanatic and a socialist, he just hasn't told anyone or been honest.

Socialism is not a word that people like to use these days, but that is what he and his party are about - they want a more radical intervention by the State in the lives of ordinary people and to tax capital gains at the same rates as income tax - meaning some will pay 50%. 

If voters realised that Clegg and his crew want the UK to become more ingratiated with Europe, divesting us of every remaining power we have and not asking the British people before doing so, I think they'd be miffed.

His defence stance would put Britain on the same footing as New Zealand probably, incapable of self defence - or anything else of significance for that matter. He's a unilateralist straining to remove Britain's only leverage on the world stage, its nuclear deterrent. To be honest, there's not much more than a rizla's width between Clegg on defence an the disgustingly defeatist Labour party in 1983!

Also, notice his energy policies will forbid the creation of any new coal fired power stations, and even worse, he would abandon all investment in nuclear power generation. In other words, he has no plans for growing the British economy because he won't be able to provide the necessary power needed to fuel manufacturing, science, research or medicine, let alone the homes of Britain's growing population.

Yet, for all this, if you believe the opinion polls, a swath of the British electorate  - momentarily at least - wants to embrace the Liberal Democrats (or Old Labour) on the strength of having seen the LD leader in a live 'debate'. They don't really know what he stands for, but they know he sounded good, looked good and wasn't either of the other two!
This too will pass, I predict.

However, Cameron must show some 'mongrel' and really start to inflict the death of a thousand truths on Liberal Democrat policy - showing it for what it is, short on ideas, lacking in substance and reminiscent of previous socialist manifestos from Labour. Therefore, I don't think Cameron really needs to waste too much time on Gordon Brown (he has lost power already) because in reality Clegg poses the greatest threat by stealing Tory seats and taking the Labour marginals needed to deprive DC of winning outright. It is Clegg who will keep Gordon in office, and together they will change the electoral system to prevent anyone in a future election from winning a majority of the vote under FPP. At that point I can only offer you some advice: get out.