This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

'Woolly and Waffly' Clegg and the Plymouth Hustings

John Rentoul in todays 'Independent on Sunday' describes Nick Clegg's performance on BBC TV's 'Question Time' programme as 'woolly and waffly' and having attended the combined Devon and Cornwall plus Western Counties Regional Conference which included the Plymouth hustings one arrived at exactly the same conclusion.

Critics have likened Clegg to a kind of Liberal version of a Cameron clone. The alleged 'great communicator' proved to be heavier on style than substance at Plymouth. The lack of passion displayed on QT was replaced by a contrived 'passion' and a conversational-style address akin to that of Cameron at the Conservative conference. I cannot remember ANYTHING of note that he said just one day later !

Now, those who've read my blog before will hardly be surprised to know that my leadership election vote was never going to go to Nick Clegg. However, at the close of nominations, I fully expected that Clegg would emerge as leader after the vote. As such, I attended the hustings with a view to assessing the next probable LD leader. Frankly I thought he was woeful on the day. From QT and Plymouth evidence it's 2-0 to Huhne ! I am hugely disappointed in Clegg. Moreover, the other two members of our party from Torbay were similarly unimpressed by Nick and one of those was genuinely undecided beforehand.

Likewise another party member I spoke to on Friday was swayed towards Huhne after the QT head-to-head. This was someone, who like many, had previously felt that Huhne might appeal more to party activists like himself but that Nick might have the greater currency amongst the wider, largely apolitical, public. THE QT debate has probably swayed his vote away from Nick. Those of us worried about a more 'marketised' or continental style NHS or a voucher scheme policy for schools heard little to allay those anxieties from Clegg. Sadly I was also wary of Nick's potential positioning on economic and 'nuclear' issues. I still am ! An opportunity missed I'm afraid.

To be fair, as Nick himself alluded to, being a liberal Home Affairs spokesperson is probably the toughest call of all for a LD and Nick has been very effective. This makes his lack-lustre campaign all the more mysterious.
Let's hope, if Clegg is the victor in the leadership contest, he will prove as successful as some think he'll be in halting a potential swing to the Tories, especially in Lib Dem / Tory contests. Happily, though, for Nick I nearly always back losers in leadership contests !

As in the last contest which (as a Hughes supporter) I'd concede that Huhne ran the most energetic and thought provoking campaign but lost the contest in terms of votes, I have a feeling of history repeating itself again ! As before, the Huhne vote may prove to be much higher than expected when the race began. Anyone else at Plymouth on Saturday have a view?

Labels: , ,


Blogger Chris Almighty! said...

I was horrified by Huhne on TV today. I thought he hurt our party with his behaviour. Nick Clegg is not perfect. But I don't think he is venal like Chris Huhne. Not does he have the character flaws that Huhne is now displaying. I dread to think of Huhne leading the party. Simon Hughes would have been far better.

8:16 pm GMT

Blogger Bullseye said...

Glad to see Huhne supporters refraining from negative personal attacks

9:36 pm GMT

Blogger Barrie Wood said...

Simon was my choice last time and would be preferred by me than either of the nominated candidates this time !

9:57 pm GMT


Post a Comment

<< Home