I was therefore horrified when Cameron's Conservatives united with Clegg's Liberal Democrats in order to form the present coalition government back in 2010. As I have seen Clegg's popularity fall after that coalition, it has buoyed me somewhat that I was right after all, and that people have seen through the media image to view the festering pragmatist that lurks underneath. It is this subject that I cover in my latest article for the Grapevine.
"It seems like such a long time since Cleggmania. Just think, it was less than a year ago that vast swarms of students and other trendy political types were jumping around, shouting about how they “agree with Nick”, that he was the future of politics, and how he represented a bold new middle ground between those satanic Tories, and outdated Labour.
Yet less than a year later and Cleggmania has not only faded away, it has plummeted like a lead balloon. The Liberal Democrats, once a party with over 30% support, now has its popularity in single digits according to some polls, and last week’s by-election in Barnsley was an unmitigated disaster that indicates that things are only set to get worse, not better for the once innocuous third party.
Things are not going much better for their “charismatic” leader either. Polling in Clegg’s constituency shows that there is a very real chance that he could be ousted at the next election. Should such a thrashing occur, it would be a Portillo moment of the kind that those of us on the right would relish in the same way we relished the ousting of Jacqui Smith in 2010.
Yet it is possible that the rejection of Cleggles is not just the public getting bored with a public figure, it is also the rejection of the “pragmatic” approach to politics that Clegg and many other politicians represent.For Cleggmania did not fade out with the public getting bored of him; instead it died when he turned his back on the principles that he claimed to hold. His agenda in the election was firmly left wing, and by uniting with the Conservative Party, he showed that he would happily chuck that agenda if it suited his quest for power, and would drop key manifesto promises if it got him closer to Downing Street.
However, those of us on the right should not get too smug about the fall of Cleggmania. David Cameron is the same sort of politician, who has also sacrificed a great deal in order to gain power and push through an agenda that has tried to please everyone but has satisfied no-one. In the name of “pragmatism” and with vague superlatives about “common ground” and “the good of the nation”, we now have a coalition government based on few principles if any.
The rest of the article can be read here.The fall of Clegg should not be seen just as the destruction of the Liberal Democrats – a party that has for too long tried to avoid solid principle in favour of jumping on whatever bandwagon comes along. Instead, it should be seen as the public’s rejection of the politician who abandons his principled convictions for some misguided pragmatism...."