Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The bumbler and the mumblers

The mumblings against Nick Clegg from within his own party are growing stronger, or at any rate more public.  Given the probable loss of most of their seats at the next election, it’s hardly a surprise that some of those around him are starting to look for liferafts.  

It’s not clear what his specific political crimes are, other than being an apparent election loser, but unless his party are certain that any potential replacement stands any better chance of salvaging something from the looming disaster, it’s hard to see how changing leader will do more than expend another political career on a lost cause.

Entering into a coalition with political opponents requires a willingness to compromise and make concessions.  It’s unrealistic for any party to believe that a leader who succeeds in doing that, and in selling those concessions and compromises to his party in order to enter coalition, would then turn out to be a man of steadfast principle during the following five years of government.  It is surely much more likely that a natural compromiser will continue as he started, and make compromise after compromise to secure the government’s success.  And it will always be the junior partner which has to compromise most.
The implications of going into a government with a natural compromiser at the helm, and the implications of the convention of Cabinet collective responsibility under which ministers are duty bound to accept and support other Ministers’ decisions, even if they were never even discussed at Cabinet, was almost certainly not spelled out to the party members.  It should have been obvious of course, but optimism and the mandatory rose tinted spectacles which accompany entry into government after interminable opposition probably blinded them to both until it was too late.
I suspect that Clegg will hold on, not least because anyone taking over control of the ship at this stage would probably need to have something akin to a political death wish.  And then he’ll go quietly just after the next election.  In the meantime, his party’s public mumblings will serve only to increase the scale of their losses when the election eventually comes.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The liberals have turned their backs on every principle that they once claimed to hold. The most glaring and unforgivable being their belief in federalism. Willie Rennie in Scotland is proving to be the most intransigent unionist of the lot. Good job he is so pathetically ineffective.