Posted 28 Jun 2014 by Walaa Idris
Because the “I agree with Nick” is the same DPM Nick Clegg! So what happened? And what changed in the past four years?
From where I am standing, there are two reasons why Nick Clegg and the LibDems are so unpopular today. And both reasons have nothing to do with Clegg reneging on ‘Tuition Fees’ or other promises. Since none of the people that voted for the LibDems up to 2010, expected them to implement any of their manifesto promises – in other words they [LibDems] were never expected to win an election and form a government!
In my opinion, Libs are unpopular now, mainly because, before the 2010 General Election, they were the default party most disaffected voters voted for. They were pure of government, innocent of making the hard decisions and delivering the tough solutions. So, to suddenly be at the heart of government was a shock to many and to some even an outright betrayal.
LibDems were seen as the compeller party. A weapon used by Labour and Conservative voters and supports, who used switching their vote to LibDems as a way of saying to their respective party “We’re important please woo us back.” When the Liberals became “the government” they stripped away that power. Thus forcing that block of voters to look elsewhere for an alternative vote to use as pressure.
Enter Ukip, which unlike the LibDems is not a centrist party that can easily straddle both sides of the political spectrum. Ukip’s home is firmly on the right and they share very little with the left. That has angered that particular block – causing them to lash at Libs.
The second reason is the media. When Nick Clegg became the kingmaker, like that block of voters, the media lost both the carrot and the stick they used to use to pump-up and whip with both Labour and the Conservatives. They lost their ‘I agree with Nick’ effect to ‘Nick, the man who can’t keep his promises’ and that dismayed them for the same above mentioned reasons.
Now the media also needed a replacement “carrot and stick” to entice the two big parties with. Ukip was the only available alternative [the fourth party] and that presented a number of challenges. One of them, until very recently, Ukip and the BNP were regarded by many in the media as identical twins that were separated at birth. That posed the greatest challenge – easily visible in the love hate relationship the media have with Ukip.
If we take a step back, Nick Clegg is the same Nick Clegg. The only difference between Clegg pre 2010 and Clegg post 2010 is being in government. Whether propping up the Tories, coming to the country’s aid or delivering some of his party manifesto while making the Libs the party of government and not a permanent opposition third party, those who used the Liberal Democrats as their default vote and whipping tool have lost their weapon and with it the power to pressure the government of the day. And that infuriated them.
Party politics aside, as a Brit, I think Nick Clegg, should be admired and applauded. He is the first LibDems leader in almost a century to be in government. As much as it pains me to admit it, he did curb the Conservatives from cutting deeper and faster – so lefties should applaud that. He went in knowing the minor partner in any coalition will take most of the blame and less of the credit but accepted it as the price of fixing the country. Everyone on either side of the political divide ought to respect and admire him for that.
Clegg and the LibDems have entered history from its wider doors. Today’s whingers might not think it but history will remember it.
My advice to Liberals is to edify their leader, highlight their achievements and remember that a minority Tory government could not have delivered many to the current reforms. Without the LibDems by the Conservatives side the country might not have experienced the stability and unity of purpose it did in the past four and half years. Without the coalition, our country might not have seen the current improvement in the economy. This coalition came together for the right reasons and delivered where it mattered.
And here, ladies and gentlemen, is where the buck stops!