National and Local politics from a Liberal Democrat from Gillingham, Kent
Thursday, 2 June 2011
Are Nick Clegg and the Lib Dem party evil?
It is easy to demonise Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. We represent the worse kind of political scum in the country. We are riddled with corruption, traitors, weak willed cowards who betrayed the electorate and are out to do the same to our Coalition partners. At the head of this collection of cut throats and blaggards is Nick Clegg, a spineless sell out who swapped his idealism for a comfy ministerial car and whose incompetent blundering knows no bounds. He wants your votes so he can overthrow the electoral system and rig it with AV to ensure future political instability that only his party would benefit from. He then wants to get rid of the Lords and replace it with a Senate?!
Then what? Remove the Monarchy and proclaim himself PRESIDENT CLEGG!!!!!
Of course this is all Boo-hockey - Unless you read the popular press.
For years the Lib Dems have been a nothing party - A sad remnant of a once grand old party, a group of humus eating sandal wearing idealists or a desperate band of ambitious political animals - Take your pick, these are all popular views.
Granted the party provided some excellent MP's and leaders but it is only Lord Ashdown and Charles Kennedy that stick in anyones mind. One election the party was even vilified for saying they would be increasing income tax by 1p per person so that they could improve public services whilst the main two parties promised that they wouldn't be raising tax at all and then did.
Ever since the first successful leadership debate the media appears to have taken a dim view of the Lib Dems and Clegg. I'm not including genuine, researched critique of the party's policies or role in government as these are the duties of a the press, to report the truth and to criticise policy. This does include the prickly nettle of Tuition fees.
The press were right to single us out for a certain amount of Flak. The party had stood against tuition fees in principle and against rises, pledges were signed and SHOULD have been upheld by all those who signed them, no abstentions, straight "No" vote.
What wasn't mentioned in the press is that not all the party voted "Yes". Greg Mulholland gave a very impassioned speech to the house imploring his LibDem colleagues to vote "No" and I believe Julian Huppert also voted "No" to name just two. It would be a shame for them to lose their seats in 2015 for the Tuition Betrayal.
Nor is the LibDem inspired revision of the repayment system that actually makes University fees cheaper to pay back if you don't get a high paying job, which lets face it is fairly difficult for graduates.
What is also cannily forgotten is Labour's role in all of this. The party that brought in Tuition Fees, then raised them, then commissioned the Brown review in the first place. They cannily sat on the opposition benches and denied any involvement and repainted themselves as the defenders of young people. Nor are the Conservatives attacked for it either, after all the majority vote of "Yes" came from them!
What does frustrate me, and other Lib Dems around the country is the non stories that are thrown around including headlines like:-
NICK CLEGG IS A NAZI!
A story followed that stated that all Nick had said was that World War Two had ended and that we were no longer the Empire we used to be. All true, no National Socialist policies there, no antisemitic or pro Germanic slogans.
Other stories include:
CLEGG DIDN'T KNOW HE WAS RUNNING THE COUNTRY!!!
Again, a nothing story about a sarcastic throw away comment by the Deputy Prime minister.
But the media's attention is just limited to Calamity Clegg!
Doctor Vince Cable, a well respected Liberal Democrat and economist, whose wisdom and experience made him indispensable to Clegg and the party in power. Yet he was a target of a sting by the Telegraph along with many other Lib Dem ministers because "There might be a story there..."
As it transpired there was a story... Doctor Vince had an opinion! What's worse he had an opinion that was contrary to the Governments and he was willing to talk about it!!!!
Now Vince is somewhat of an outcast among the front benches and distrusted by the PM and maligned as a trouble maker in the eyes of the media rather unfairly as he was stating Lib Dem policy and his beliefs.
Of course the biggest casualty was David Lawes. The Telegraph's timing was well placed to strike at this rising star within the party just as he came into office. I don't deny that fraud is not illegal, nor that it should not have been published its just that it happened some months after the main body of accusations and the sceptic in me says they only released the story in May last year because before then no one had heard of him.
Even Chris Jefferies, the lead suspect in the murder of that poor girl at Christmas was described as an eccentric loner Liberal Democrat. What has his party affiliation got to do with anything? He wasn't a councillor, nor an MP, just an activist. I don't think I have ever seen anyone else described by their party membership, nor is the fact that he is a Liberal Democrat got any link to murder.
The other parties have a deft ability to manipulate the printed media. Ed Miliband has been able to absolve any former guilt for his party or himself and is able to oppose for oppositions sake and criticise Government action. His impassioned speech at the TUC cuts event had negated the fact that his party had no alternative to the cuts and whose mis-management had caused the crisis in the first place. He was also quick to criticise any government policy and play off people's passions without any substance or an alternative. Good opposition should offer alternative routes and policies rather than sniping from the side lines.
As for the right-wing, Murdoch press - well, we were always going to lose there as we are diluting right wing policy.
It is as if the left and the right fear what the Lib Dems could be, a new voice of the left or a new direction that could alter British politics for good. A party that does not have allegiance to the TUC or to big business and the young charismatic Clegg could have led the party to greatness. Not now though.
The Public love a hate figure, they also love to get riled up over causes and campaigns the Sun or Mail start. Clegg, as an outsider, is an easy target as are the Lib Dems but it is a real shame as our policies are actually benefiting real people, higher threshold for income tax, free preschool education from poor backgrounds, pupil premium, scrapping the ID data base, setting up the Green bank, none of which are publicised. The people aren't interested so why should the papers report it? Last week a friend and colleague said we were Spineless and cowardly and Labour should be given another go, all this a year after they were ousted for mismanaging the whole problem! He was also unaware of what we had done for the people, including himself! Also ignorant or ignoring the fact that we have a mere 50 odd MP's so only have a limited affect on national policies, in fact we have been punching above our weight in the policies we have pushed through, this is also little reported on! This for me is a mass failing of the media and it isn't isolated to one person.
It should also be mentioned that the populous are lazy or lack time to seek out information and were more interested in whom was responsible for the Super injunction for the sleaze factor than the notion of freedom of speech. The press must therefore deliver a fair and balanced view of party's policies and actions, it is their duty as well to be neutral rather than sensationalist to sell papers. I understand people aren't all interested in politics As it has been said before;
"What is in the public interest is seldom in the public interest."
BUT surely the amount of negative press received by the Lib Dems is disproportionate to the amount of bad press. In Nick Clegg there is no evil oppressor nor crook and the Lib Dems are not the harbingers of evil out to oppress your rights and steal your hard earned money, far from it.
I apologise if this has turned into an angry rant, however I feel quite strongly that the Press have a duty to report all of the news all of the time and treat every party on its merits and drawbacks weighing them against each other.