Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It’s Calamity Atheist Clegg for Christmas

Not quite as useless as soap-on-a-rope or a Christmas-tree-jumper, but Liberal Democrats struggle to persuade the nation they are worth much more. And now they have 'Calamity Clegg' to lead them... well, there are some prefixes and adjuncts which just stick in the mind, and 'Calamity' is one, not least because it was coined by another Liberal Democrat (or his leadership campaign team), and it will be a hard tag to eradicate. Rather like the audible groans which always greeted Paddy Ashdown when he arose to speak, and the groans of pity that greeted Sir Menzies Campbell, whenever something isn’t going quite right for the LibDems, there will be a chorus of ‘Calamity Clegg’ reverberating around the chamber.

And it may also be a perpetual haunt for Chris Huhne, as interview after interview he will be asked to deny that he thinks his own leader is a ‘calamity’, and even harder may that be knowing that he lost to Mr Clegg by a mere 511 votes – just 1% of the vote.

For Mr Clegg to score 20,988 votes and Mr Huhne to score 20,477 leaves the Liberal Democrats divided right down the middle. It is to David Cameron’s credit - and what continues to sustain him – that he won convincingly with two-thirds of the popular vote.

And speaking of Mr Cameron, Cranmer warns of troubled times to come. As he previously stated:

“If the Lord wishes to be kind to the Liberal Democrats, and mean to the Conservatives, the succession will pass to Nick Clegg.

Mr Clegg looks, sounds, walks and quacks like a Cameroon. He is eloquent, young and charming; he appears warm and charismatic on camera, and is of an eminently approachable disposition. He is reportedly fluent in five languages, a Euro-realist, and is at ease in diverse companies and kindly-mannered toward both the high and mighty and to the poor and lowly. He is a man for all seasons, and no small gesture is too much trouble for him.”

One hopes the Conservative Party will neither misjudge the man nor underestimate his political skills and considerable potential appeal to voters in the ‘centre ground’. He is of the Cameron generation, and both will make Prime Minister Brown look very grey indeed. And together they may even precipitate a Labour succession to Mr Miliband.

But the true hope for the Conservative Party is that if Mr Cameron fails to win an overall majority, it is not inconceivable that there may be a hung Parliament. While Mr Huhne may have propped up Labour, Mr Clegg is more likely to prop up the Conservatives.

But at what price?

UPDATE

Mr Clegg has come out as an Atheist, and (as Cranmer has stated in the comment thread), it is preferable to engage with an honest, self-confessed atheist than a duplicitious, hypocritical egomaniac who professes to be Christian.

33 Comments:

Blogger botogol said...

"If the Lord wishes to be kind to the Liberal Democrats, and mean to the Conservatives, the succession will pass to Nick Clegg"

Now, is that merely a figure of speech, or do you mean that God really does have plans/wishes of this nature?

19 December 2007 at 08:38  
Blogger paul ilc said...

I predict that Mr Clegg will do little for the Lib Dems, because he's gaffe-prone and because Mr Cameron has already cornered the political market in the young/eloquent/charismatic/etc opposition leader, and new entrants will be at a disadvantage.

That said, Your Grace is right to say that the Conservatives must not underestimate Mr Clegg.

I do, however, find it deeply depressing that our media-dominated political 'system' now values youth and presentation so highly while discounting experience and content.

As for the Lord's wishes, botogol, I believe, FWIW, that the Almighty is broadly a compassionate High Tory, Thatcherite in economics and non-statist in welfare and social policy. Scripture and
Providence broadly support this postion.

19 December 2007 at 13:15  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Quite so, Mr Paul Ilc, quite so.

You are a man of manifest intelligence and discernment, and you are most welcome to His Grace's august blog of intelligent and erudite comment.

And Mr Botogol, you really ought to know better. It is the clearest indication of Scripture (OT and NT) that the Lord raises up the leaders of nations, and also it is he who removes them.

Of course, since the Liberal Democrats are never going to lead a nation, you are right to cast doubt on the applicability of such a principle in the context of Mr Clegg.

19 December 2007 at 13:28  
Blogger Surreptitious Evil said...

Your Grace,

I am sure you are really quite busy writing your Christmas exhortations but I wonder if I might trouble you for your opinion of Mr Clegg's announcement of his atheism.

I wonder, as well - although I fully appreciate that the affairs of the Papishly-inclined are not your domain - what his family priest might have to say in the Midnight Mass sermon?

19 December 2007 at 16:05  
Anonymous The recusant said...

Mr S-Evil

Might I suggest a suitable response to your enquiry? The priest in question may opine that he is fine with Mr Cleggs atheism as he himself is not an active believer in the Liberal Democratic party. Although he has enormous respect for people in his parish who do.

19 December 2007 at 16:29  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Surreptitious Evil,

His Grace would rather engage with an honest, self-confessed atheist than a duplicitious, hypocritical egomaniac who professed to be Christian.

19 December 2007 at 18:10  
Blogger botogol said...

I am very pleased that Clegg has 'come out' as an atheist. Even is this secular world of ours that's no always easy for people to do, and I applaud his courage.


Shame on him, though, for allowing his children to be brought up catholic. Approaching religion with a open mind and heart (as he claims to do on the BBC link) surely means creating an environment where children can choose their own faith, once they are old enough to do so.

19 December 2007 at 18:18  
Anonymous billy said...

botogol said...
I am very pleased that Clegg has 'come out' as an atheist.

19 December 2007 18:18

It makes a change. I'm always half expecting lib dems to come out as gay.

His party won't get my vote; I'm unhappy with both youth and atheism.

19 December 2007 at 19:15  
Blogger paul ilc said...

botogol -

Choosing is something we do from an established position, and no position in human life is value-neutral. Brought up as Christians, the Clegg-lets can choose to be Christians, atheists or agnostics. Brought up as atheists, they could choose to be Christians. However, as there is not a value-neutral position from which children can be brought up, neither atheists nor Christians are indoctrinating their children, unless they are fanatics.

Apologies for labouring the point, but it was one that is not widely understood.

19 December 2007 at 20:04  
Blogger paul ilc said...

Your Grace generously describes me as "a man of manifest intelligence and discernment" when the epithet is more appropriately applied to the wise and good author of this blog.

19 December 2007 at 20:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to see how the Bill of Rights and other Constituional Statutes are still upheld, from swearing an Oath to Protect the Protestant Kingdom we are now over-run with Papists, Islamists and Atheists.

Seems the disasters that have befallen this country has started when everyone but Protestants came to office.

Guido know if Dear Nick swore any Oath with God in the paragraph e.g. Oath of Office to be an MP.

19 December 2007 at 21:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*Constitutional

19 December 2007 at 21:47  
Blogger Manfarang said...

The two contenders for the Liberal Democrat leadership have very similar backgrounds and views so don't expect the close vote to produce any split.

20 December 2007 at 03:00  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Interesting to read the views of the Archbishop of Canterbury sbout the Christmas legend in the Times.
The visit of the Zoroastrian priests shows how other religions shaped early Christianity.

20 December 2007 at 04:14  
Blogger Chuck Unsworth said...

"Shame on him, though, for allowing his children to be brought up catholic. Approaching religion with a open mind and heart (as he claims to do on the BBC link) surely means creating an environment where children can choose their own faith, once they are old enough to do so."

An interesting concept. At what age will these children be 'old enough'? And what means will they use to make such a choice?

One assumes that this approach should, in your view, apply to all religions. Which brings some quite disturbing images to mind with regard to Judaism (for example). However, perhaps you may also be suggesting that such external mainfestations and rituals be done away with.

20 December 2007 at 10:05  
Anonymous king kong said...

Hopefully, with Nick Clegg's declaration of being an atheist the Muslim voters that propped Lib-Dem candidates post-Iraq might drift away to a new political home.

There are certainly constituencies where the Muslim vote has been a deciding factor. What, I enquire of His Grace, would be the gravitational pull of Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, arguably the highest ranking Muslim Cameroon and who achieved recent heroism in the Teddy Bear affair, on this group of potentially un-housed voters?

20 December 2007 at 11:44  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr King Kong,

An interesting question.

But the reality is that Muslims have historically been tribal in their affiliation to Labour. Since Jack Straw's (brave) declaration against niqabs in one of the most Muslim-populated constituencies in the country does not seem remotely to be imperiling his majority, it is unlikely that the professed atheism of a party leader will affect the way Muslims vote locally. The Liberal Democrats are, after all, the most successful political machine when it comes to local campaigning, and it is likely to be the faith allegiance of the local candidate that will be of far more significance than the professed faith of the party leader.

And as for Baroness Warsi, Cranmer does not know of one Muslim of either gender who thinks very much of her at all. And the recent announcement of her imminent divorce will certainly not go down well amongst Asians generally.

20 December 2007 at 12:03  
Blogger John M Ward said...

I find this fascinating. How can anyone who has intentions of shaping a nation possibly do so without any comprehension of why that nation (or indeed any of this world) even exists?

An atheist can never be any good at such a pivotal role, and would have to be perceived as merely self-seeking, being clearly unable and/or unwilling to "go beyond" self and self-surrounding perceptions -- which is what atheists do. They can't see it, so they don't believe it.

Well, if they were to wake up sufficiently to see that there is a whole universe out there, and realise that it didn't suddenly magically appear out of out nothing and with no purpose, then they might become capable of determining the future direction of a nation.

In the meantime, at least Clegg is in what remains very much a minority party, so thankfully is extremely unlikely ever to end up in a position of such power.

20 December 2007 at 12:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

botogol

Allowing his children to be brought up in their mother's religion may well have been a (standard) condition of her church for blessing the union.

As such we can applaud him for sticking to his word.

John Ward is repeating the old saw that morality stems only from theism, and presents the false dilemma that people seek either God or themselves.

As his Grace says, there are egomaniacs who profess to be Christian, and they are found not only in Government, but also in churches and schools.

The Blair years are surely a lesson in the dangers of trusting someone just because he says he is a great and passionate believer?

Let's judge the man's actions by what they are, not by how they are labelled.

20 December 2007 at 13:42  
Blogger Manfarang said...

John
Yeah God talks to Dubya!
You should be a bit more worried about which banks you keep your money in at the moment.

20 December 2007 at 13:44  
Anonymous king kong said...

Hi John, I believe that atheism as a personally held view is not incompatible with the role of being a political representative of a community or indeed of a society where there is a diversity of faiths as long as such a person has respect and tolerance of, and fairness towards, such beliefs.

The rejection of existence of a personal, creator deity does not preclude observance of some faiths. As I understand, there are atheist philosophers who are deeply moralistic people but whose scientific enquiries have not yielded for them any justification to hold such a belief. For them, God is a concept that exists as the limits of human understanding and scientific rigours are exceeded.

20 December 2007 at 13:51  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

There is not such thing as an atheists.

Only people that wrongly believe they are, or are to lazy or drunk to be honest with themselves.

Stick Clegg or even Hitchins in a Flanders First World War trench just before the whistle blows, and it will not be their favorite politicians they will be praying to.

20 December 2007 at 15:52  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Atlas
It didn't make my great uncle George a believer,not in God anyway.He used to read the Freethinker.

20 December 2007 at 16:11  
Blogger Cranmer said...

There is not such thing as an atheist.

His Grace has long considered this to be the case. And if there were such a thing, his/her contempt for 'religion' would herald the Dawkins-type of invective, and would certainly not tolerate one's children being brought up Roman Catholic, whatever the faith adherence of the partner.

It is more likely that Mr Clegg is Agnostic, but, being a Liberal Democrat, doesn't quite know what it means.

20 December 2007 at 16:19  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Atlas
My uncle was at Passchendaele.There were no politicians,or bishops,in those trenches.Many were just boys.
Earlier in that war some of the soldiers stopped fighting on Christmas Day and walked to no-mans land and celebrated with the Germans.

20 December 2007 at 16:39  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Cranmer

My thoughts exactly. I would consider myself an agnostic. To be a true atheist is an act of blind faith not even the most religious are capable of.

It is also in my opinion a position that shows dangerous ignorance and more importantly an unforgivable lack of historical and psychological common human empathy.

Virtually none of our greatest scientists and thinkers were true atheists. This is as true if not more true now then it has ever been. The more science understands the more it understands how little it really understands about anything at all.

20 December 2007 at 16:41  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Cranmer
But do you know what theism truely means?How can you say what God is and what God isn't?

20 December 2007 at 17:12  
Blogger Adrian said...

John Ward: "I find this fascinating. How can anyone who has intentions of shaping a nation possibly do so without any comprehension of why that nation (or indeed any of this world) even exists?"

Speaking as an atheist, I believe I have more "comprehension of why this nation exists" than many of the Anglicans I know, and almost all of the House-Church Christians I know.

Adrian

20 December 2007 at 20:07  
Blogger botogol said...

well, of course there are such things as atheists!

But being an atheist and being happy about your children brought up catholic makes about as much sense as being catholic, and having your children brought up catholic. So I agree with your grace's basic sentiment.

As to what Clegg 'really' is - well... he says he's an atheist...

20 December 2007 at 23:23  
Blogger botogol said...

curses... I meant to say....

well, of course there are such things as atheists!

But being an atheist and being happy about your children brought up catholic makes about as much sense as being catholic, and having your children brought up atheist. So I agree with his grace's basic sentiment.

As to what Clegg 'really' is - well... he says he's an atheist...

20 December 2007 at 23:25  
Blogger Chuck Unsworth said...

Your Grace

Perhaps Mr Clegg does not fully understand the radical difference between 'Atheist' and 'Agnostic'. I suspect that may be so. Equally one may wonder if Mr Clegg understands much at all.

21 December 2007 at 09:58  
Anonymous Jimmy said...

it is preferable to engage with an honest, self-confessed atheist than a duplicitious, hypocritical egomaniac who professes to be Christian.

Or a leader who hides his true religion until the Christmas after his resignation. He fooled the British people and constitution into thinking he was still C of E and appointed the Archbishop. These politicians should be a warning to us that it is time to seperate state and church.

22 December 2007 at 12:26  
Anonymous Dobbin said...

Atlas Shrugged presumably believes that 'Not Playing Football' is a sport.

Atheism does not involve faith but the reverse - the attempt to base one's decisions on proper evidence rather than things one would like to be true.

I sometimes wonder whether those of who attack Dawkins have actually read him. He rightly applauds the contributions of Christianity to British society and culture, while not shrinking from its less admirable features.

The hapless Clegg will doubtless put his own back out trying to perform the contortions required of the liberal (as opposed to libertarian) conscience.

29 December 2007 at 14:03  

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