Nick Clegg's back-room deals
One of Nick Clegg’s earliest pronouncements as leader of the Liberal Democrats was that he did not believe in God. Perhaps he has done a deal with the other side. This announcement was swiftly followed by the disclosure of his very liberal love life – that he had slept with around 30 women (NB ‘a lot less than’ from a politician means ‘more than’). This must have involved quite a few back-room deals.
One therefore expects from him a certain amount of duplicity, deviousness and a certain lack of principle, if only to conspire with the forces of darkness to entice Mammon into Liberal Democrat coffers.
The problem with the Liberal Democrats is that they are more fragmented than any other political party, and therefore quite unleadable. The ‘party’ is really a conglomeration of diverse and disparate protest movements which say one thing in Kent, another in Birmingham and something quite different in Glasgow. They are confused and contradictory: they seek membership of the Euro, yet talk of British sovereignty; they talk of ‘empowering people not parties’, yet refuse a referendun on the biggest question; they talk of localism, yet seek to negate it with overarching, unaccountable bureaucracy; they profess to be libertarian, yet their policies are irredeemably interventionist and Socialist; they want proportional representation, but they rule out doing ‘back-room deals’ which are the very essence of that system; and Nick Clegg wants to be a ‘pluralist’, though he has stated unequivocally that he will ‘never join a Labour or Tory Cabinet’.
Or perhaps he said that when he was in Kent.
Because now that he senses the possibility of a hung parliament, he is insisting that it is the people who will be kingmakers, not he.
And so he gives the latest Liberal Democrat line: when asked whether in those circumstances he would do a deal (front-room?) with the Tories or form a pact with a Labour, he refused to express a preference. He said the party with the ‘strongest mandate’ would have the right to form a government.
What he does not say is precisely how that mandate might be measured, for the largest party in Westminster may not be the party with the largest popular vote. In fact, so skewed is the present system against the Conservative Party that it is entirely possible that they could out-poll Labour by millions of votes yet still not win a parliamentary majority.
Perhaps Mr Clegg might enlighten us on the mechanism by which he will measure the ‘strongest mandate’?
Or will it be granted to the party which offers the Liberal Democrats the best back-room deal?