|Waiting in the wings: Vince Cable|
In all seriousness though, how likely is it?
Nick's popularity nationally as well as within the party has definitely waned since Tuition fees through a combination of Coalition politics, media concentrating on bad policies and not the good as well as a certain amount of sniping from the Conservative right.
The Coalition was never going to be easy. Working with another party, especially one that is some 5 times bigger than us, is tough especially when they feel they have the right to govern alone and we're there to just make up the numbers. We were never going to get our own way on a lot of things but we have wrung some key policies out of them. Income tax, AV referendum, pupil premium, a postponement of Trident... There are some serious success stories and for that you have to look to the top. Coalition politics is like sailing all sheets to the wind in a tempest and I think Clegg has got as much as he's given and whilst this parliament is sitting We should back our leader loyally rather than backslide and mutter discontent over every poor decision.
Then again, this is not the military or Conservative party! The fire has definitely been quenched in Nick. Remember when he led the party out of the chamber? When he called for the Speaker's resignation? Fighting tooth and nail with Gordon Brown? Demanding that recess be cancelled to allow parliament to completely reform itself and sort out the expenses crisis?
That was when I decided that this was the party for me. Clegg was inspiring as leader and was a different politician to what I was used to. Change, real change looked achievable and a lot of the voting public Agreed with Nick that together we could and should do it.
It was painful to watch the Tuition fees get raised... Physically hurt. I walked through one of the riots behind a police line and felt shame and sympathy for the students. Where had Nick been? Why had he not led the MPs out of the chamber or voted with principal?
This was not the last time. How many times has he been seen nodding along with Dave on things he doesn't agree with? The voting public aren't happy and neither are a lot of local libdems who've paid the price for Parliamentary policy. There is a lot of understandable anger out there.
It's only two and a bit years to election time and Nick, like Gordon Brown before him, has lost serious capital with the voters, how many people will be turned off voting for us just because of Nick? HQ need to look to the future and make hard decisions and who will be best to rebuild the party. I'm sorry to say that, realistically, the future is bleak for Nick unless something drastic occurs over the next year.
I say this with a heavy heart as I do support Nick but understand the needs of the party and future planning. I will, however urge my fellow activists that Coalition politics is a high stakes game and it's not over yet. Hold your nerve and trust Nick's leadership for at least another year, the potential pay out is too great. Why cash in now?