DOE EYED AND MALICIOUS: The Spiteful Calculation of Nick Clegg

Most politicians see themselves as principled, individuals with a strong moral compass. Any suggestions that their concerns may be  venal or based on narrow selfish interest’s prompts outrage and wounded dignity.

Few politicians look in the mirror and see reflected back the white knight in shining armour as much as The Lib Dems. This is particularly true of their leader Nick Clegg. If the result of the next election, as seems very possible, should not deliver a decisive majority for either of the two major parties, Clegg stands at the ready to step back into his government office, make use of the limousine and stand yet again at the despatch box in the national interest. Nick Clegg the man of common sense, occupying the middle ground, a man of principle and compassion. This is how he sees himself and this is how he would like you to see him.

It is worth bearing this in mind when considering the following scene. Clegg is with the Prime Minister, who says, “We really need to be seen to do something about lobbying.”

“Yes,” says Clegg, but he is not thinking about professional lobbying he is thinking about his constituency, Sheffield Hallam. Before the last election he made some extravagant promises to get the student vote, which he promptly broke as a price for getting into office. Now he is worried, what will happen at the next election? Will the National Union of Students now seek revenge?

“I have an idea,” says Clegg, “maybe we can kill two birds with one stone.”  Thus was born the current ‘lobbying bill’ currently winding its way through parliament. I will let Polly Toynbee summarize the consequences of Clegg’s idea.

‘Nick Clegg instigated this bill. Afraid of a backlash from the National Union of Students over fees, anti-frackers and myriad single-issue groups who were once allies, he pressed for this gagging act to protect his candidates in election year.

[The bill] crafted to barely touch the professional lobbying trade, which Cameron once called "the next great scandal waiting to happen". Only 1% of lobbying is caught, not Lynton Crosby’s tobacco and alcohol lobbying firm right in the heart of government nor any in-house lobbying by companies; scores of meetings with energy firms go unrecorded.

Part two of the bill will curb charities and others campaigning for a full year before elections by limiting what they can spend, counting all their overheads. Going about their ordinary business risks turning charities criminal if they fail to register with the Electoral Commission, which is itself highly critical of the bill. Trustees will never know how far they can go on climate change, child poverty, hunting, housing, badgers or any other advocacy. The bill being rush through is to ensure a year of silence can be imposed by next May.’[1]

As I say, think on this at the time of the next election, think of this nasty little bill born of a mixture of fear and malice the next time you witness Nick Clegg go doe eyed and put on his ‘trust me’ face.

Trust Me 

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