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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nick Clegg is a bore- and he's wrong about the state

This piece of mine appears in today’s First Post.

Neil Clark: Clegg is a perfect example of homo politicus - earnest and deadly dull.

Nick Clegg is the man of the moment, the politician who has risen from nowhere to lead the Liberal Democrats into power for the first time in the modern era. What a pity he has turned into such a crashing bore.

Yesterday, our earnest and humourless deputy prime minister outlined his plans to "transform our politics". He was not, he assured us, talking about "the odd gimmick or gesture here or there" to make us feel involved, but "the most significant programme of empowerment by a British government since the great reforms of the 19th century". Wow!

Are you excited? No, me neither.

Part of the problem was the subject matter - constitutional reform is a sleep-inducing topic at the best of times. But a large part is Clegg himself. Firstly, there's the big-headedness. Other politicians have introduced significant reforms in the past - but did any of them make such a song and dance about it as Clegg did yesterday?

Clegg's style is horribly didactic. In effect he is saying, "Listen to me and I will tell you why what I'm proposing is going to be good for you".

Then there's the dreadful earnestness. People are never so silly as when they take themselves too seriously and the Lib Dem leader is a case in point. Apart from a feeble line about wearing a purple tie, yesterday's speech was devoid of humour. Constitutional reform is a very serious matter. Repeat after me.

The problem with Clegg is that the more we see of him the more we realise he is not like the rest of us. Can anyone imagine having a pint with Nick, discussing the FA Cup Final? Clegg is the perfect example of 21st century British homo politicus: earnest, hard-working but deadly, deadly dull.

And is what he is proposing - in his oh so significant reforms - actually such a big deal?

You can read the whole of the piece here:

Meanwhile, you can read here what that nice 'moderate' Vince Cable has in store for the Royal Mail.


Anonymous said...

Quite agree biased as I am as a Labourite I'm finding both his style and substance incredibly annoyiong at present .. e.g " don't let anyone tell you that someone intoning vacuous platitudes can't become deputy prime minister-because they are wrong.It can happen . The substance of getting rid of things that can help fight crime or co-ordinate a better reponse to child abuse is pretty annoying too- and having no answer what to do about al qaeda suspects .Yes I'm finding him more annoying than the tories

Mr. Piccolo said...

"Empowerment." Like perhaps giving workers more power within their workplaces? Like supporting worker-owned and managed cooperatives? I doubt it. I could very well be wrong, but I am guessing “empowerment” for politicians like Clegg probably means more power to the already rich and powerful.

Right-wingers lambaste the State, sometimes correctly, for overstepping its proper boundaries, but they often fail to understand how tyrannical the wage system is, where the vast majority of the population has no say at all in how their workplaces are run and have no ownership or management power over productive enterprises.

I think we need more focus on the “micro” aspect of political economy, for example, how enterprises are run, who has power within them, how this impacts wage/salary levels, the impact on the political system and the role of the State, etc.

Neil Clark said...

Mr Piccolo: Quite. We can see who the new government will be 'empowering' by looking at the coalition agreement. 70% of the public want to see Britain's railways renationalised- and what is the governments' response? To say that they will grant even longer franchises to the profiteering train operators.