Reading through Nick Clegg’s interview with the Independent, I was struck by a feeling that seemed odd. It seemed as though I was empathising with a politician.
After the initial disbelief, I began to see why this was happening. Whilst I disagree with a lot of Lib Dem policy (most notably economic) I felt that it was a party that genuinely believed in doing the right thing. It wasn’t slick, spewing out endlessly-rehearsed lines of meaningless rhetoric nor was it a behemoth tied down by conflicting interests.
Nick Clegg is a human. A rare thing to see in the Commons nowadays. Yes, he made mistakes. Entering a coalition with the Tories was a mistake, for him, his party and the nation but we don’t need to constantly remind him of the fact because he knows it better than anybody else. He apologised for his actions. Another rare thing to see. One feels that Clegg wasn’t an opportunist, a careerist or evil. He did what seemed to be the best course of action at the time.
It takes an immense amount of courage to hold your head high in the world of politics. Clegg isn’t afraid to hide his mistakes, his vulnerabilities or his humanity and for this he deserves respect and forgiveness.
We should be thankful for Clegg’s actions for though it wasn’t a perfect result, it was the best that could have been achieved. A labour government, even in coalition would have been too weak to stay in power and we would have been plunged into another election. A Conservative minority government would have been even worse. The instability would only have led to another election, this time with a Tory majority.Unrestrained we would see the ruthless cutting of the nation’s backbone. We would have faced an austerity programme that would make their current plan virtually socialist. Let us not forget what the Lib Dems as an opposition force within the government. Cameron had promised to scrap the Human Rights Act in his 2010 manifesto. The Lib Dems, good humans that they are, fought to block this and succeeded. We again saw this with the snoopers charter. Clegg and Co. stopped our data from falling even further into the government’s claws, which is what we’re seeing now. Most importantly, The Lib Dems were put in charge of one vital government department – The Department for Energy and Climate Change. Whilst Cameron tried to “cut the green crap”
The reality, however unpleasant it may be for us anti-coalitionists to accept, is that Clegg actually did a lot of good for the country. He held back the worst of the Conservative hounds of austerity whilst at the same time bringing in a wide range of social improvements, most of which the Tories have claimed credit for. Free school meals, gay marriage, mental health funding, these are all things that the Lib Dems pushed through. They did so knowing that they would have to pay the price.
The Liberal Democrats were the sacrificial (Norman) Lamb, taking the brunt of Cameron’s force. In order to save us, they had to suffer beyond belief at the next election.
There has not been a prime minister in my lifetime that I have supported, let alone respect, but I can honestly say that I do respect one deputy prime minister. Thank goodness for Nick Clegg.