Saturday, May 24, 2014

@libdems4change: Clegg must apparently go, but whither the Liberal Democrats?

Last night, I received an e-mail from a group calling itself "Lib Dems 4 Change", asking for my support for a letter calling upon Nick Clegg to resign as Party Leader. Apart from the interesting notion of "Lib Dems 4 the Status Quo", I found myself recalling that we have been here before.

Indeed, it is hard to remember that, not two years ago, I wrote about similar calls for Clegg to go, asking two questions, against which I now measure the latest attempt to defenestrate an unpopular leader;
  • what are you changing the Leader for?, and;
  • so, if not Nick, then whom?
This time, the organisers of this round-robin missive have at least answered part of the first question, in that they state that Nick will act as a lead weight upon our prospects next year. That may, or may not be true - I for one hear less anger about him now than I did in 2011.

However, they don't really indicate what should be being done instead. Are we to pull out of the Coalition? They don't say. What they say is;
We consider it vital that at the 2015 General Election the Party should be led by someone who will receive a fair hearing about our achievements and ambitions for the future.
I would love that. I would also love a National Lottery win, a trip to visit lemurs in Madagascar and my own private train, but none of these things are in our immediate future, I suspect. Can the organisers of the petition name a single leader of our Party who has received a fair hearing from the public and the media since Lloyd George (and he wasn't exactly loved by the Press either, as I understand)?

This government is doing a whole bunch of unpopular things - cutting benefits and finding ways of running government more cheaply are never, ever, going to be easy or popular, and any new Leader will be confronted with the same hostile media, the same cynical public and the same recent political history. Why on Earth do they believe that simply changing the Leader will make a significant difference?

Or is it simply that the organisers hope that, in the event of a leadership contest, a white knight on a charger will ride over the hill and lead us to a glorious recovery in public opinion? I'm an optimist, and even I can't see that one coming, especially this close to a General Election. The public may be fickle, they may be ill-informed, even contradictory sometimes - often, indeed - but I don't see them suddenly saying, "I hated that Nick Clegg, but X seems like a nice bloke/girl, I think that I'll vote LibDem after all!".

So, applying the Sherlock Holmes rule - after ruling out every other alternative, whatever is left, no matter how unlikely, must be the solution - I can only assume that they believe that they can defenestrate a leader and replace him with one that will pull us out of the Coalition.

Now, I am reminded that those who vote in Liberal Democrat Voice polls are not necessarily representative of the party membership as a whole, but in none of their regular polling has there been even a sizeable minority in favour of ending the Coalition. In other words, unless Liberal Democrat Voice-reading members are wholly unrepresentative of the Party at large, the campaign organisers for Lib Dems 4 Change are merely attempting to bypass the membership by building momentum for Clegg to resign of his own volition.

There is a process by which ordinary members can require a leadership contest, which I would encourage Lib Dems 4 Change to utilise, if they really believe that they represent the grassroots of the Party. But until then, I'm sorry but I won't be signing the letter any time soon...


MatGB said...

Well said sir, well said.

If a motion to call an EGM under the constitution was brought before my LP exect I'd give it a fair hearing, and probably be in favour of having the EGM. But I'd vote against any such motion.

There's no plan, it's just daftness, I read through the comments thread on the LDV post and simply gave up, it's the same people making the same complaints that were complaining about his leadership even before coalition.

Unknown said...

Good stuff, wise one.

Anonymous said...


Left Lib said...

If Nick Clegg decides to stand down then it would be up to the candidates who put themselves forward to replace him to say what follows next and the membership decides accordingly. It would be pointless for the organisers of this petition - of which I am not one - to second guess what they would propose.

rob's uncle said...

LibDems4Change are at:
Read what they say and make your own minds up.

David Payne said...

Clegg is a nice chap, but we need a leader who speaks with passion and fire in his belly like our deputy leader Sir Malcolm Bruce did on last week's BBC Radio 4 Any Questions programme.