Clegg turns fence-sitting into a Zen-like art

Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal democrats, frustrates me. He just sits there. Like some sort of expensive garden gnome missing a fishing rod or toadstool. In local campaigning, like here in Newcastle, Libdems will say one thing on one housing estate and the total opposite on the other side of town. They’re well-known for it.

You’d think, though, on a national level that they would have an ideology. A core set of beliefs that give them direction. Some policies that they hold dear and would never turn away from. But no, it turns out they don’t.  What the Libdems are doing under Clegg at the moment is sitting in the middle of almost every issue. They’re gambling that a hung parliament will happen and that they are then going to get to pick a party to form a coalition government with. So they’re avoiding doing anything too controversial. Nothing that will set them at odds too strongly with either of the main parties. Clegg is sitting on the fence.

And that’s what annoys me. Clegg will say when asked, that he isn’t planning on a hung parliament. That he’s playing to win and believes he can be the next Prime Minister. This, of course, is utter nonsense. He knows, just as the public know, that he will never be Prime Minister. What he could do, knowing he’ll never actually be PM, is produce a really radical liberal manifesto and force the other parties to discuss those policies. Force Labour and the Tories to talk about anything Clegg and his party want to. They would be driving the narrative and debate. But, no, Clegg’s doing the easy thing. Sitting on his hands and hoping to play ‘kingmaker’. Already he’s quietly dropped a lot of key policies on the grounds of the shaky economy. And now he’s being as uncontentious as possible, making bland statements and no commitments.

After all the sleaze and scandal in Parliament, the public are crying out for fresh ideas, positive agendas, different outlooks. Clegg could set himself apart, set out his manifesto and run an insurgent campaign picking up votes and seats from both Labour and Conservatives.  He might still do that. There hasn’t been a manifesto yet, the campaigns proper aren’t underway. All we can really go on to get a sense of the parties’ directions are the campaign election slogans. The Conservatives have worked on the theme of change for a while now and they unsurprisingly came out with the grammatically poor

Year for change

which is predictable, but not working as well as they expected it to up to now.  The Labour party announced their slogan at a big event in Warwick a few weeks ago. And the slogan Brown’s team chose is

A future fair for all

which isn’t too bad. The traditional Labour focus on fairness and the implication that the Tories are, by nature and ideology, unfair. With these slogans in mind, Clegg and his staff should have come up with something original which summed up what they were about. Something focussed and witty.  And very memorable. What they actually came up with is

Change that works for you. Building a fairer Britain

Even with the bloody slogan, Clegg has parked himself firmly on the fence. Instead of differentiating his party and making the Libdems stand out, he’s co-opted both the main parties slogans and joined them into a bland bunch of toss. Even the design of the logo itself is bland.

Liberal Democrat Election 2010 logo

I suppose, at the end of the day, it could have been worse. They could have done this –

What the logo could’ve been (h/t Tom Harris MP)

Plus they’re never going to win, so it doesn’t make a difference at the end of day.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


  1. ok, so i agree about the logo, but other than that your blog post says absolutely nothing at all – how about some actual examples?? Politics is, after all, supposed to be about Policy.
    The Lib Dems, and Nick Clegg, have been very clear about where they stand. They have, for example, supported Labour’s achievements in Educations, but opposed them when they felt necessary (Iraq, ID Cards for example), opposed the Tories on so many things it’s pointless writing them here, and been clear about their position on matters like the economy, ie Tories want to cut too fast, Labour too slow. Lib Dems have been clear that would reduce the deficit at a rate between these two positions (which, before you say it, doesn’t mean that they are sitting on the fence), a position that a recent IMF report backed up.

    • “I kind of agree with all the points of view, which is why I’m a Lib Dem.”
      (pauses as people laugh) “Give us a fence and we’ll sit on it.”

      Martin Turner, Lib Dem PPC for Stratford upon Avon
      17 March, Stratford upon Avon College

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s