Only history will define how Nick Clegg will be judged, but one and a half years on, the outlook seems bleak. Here is a man who, no matter how hard he tries, and believe me he tries, cannot be taken seriously; imagine Tommy Cooper in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee then you have a rough picture…you know minus the fez.
Today’s conference speech was a robust (the most overused term in post-riot politics; go on check for yourself) defence of Liberal Democrat policy since the formation of the coalition. But the problem lies not within his words (he said them all very well *pat on the back*) instead it is that people will not be able to see his word as a bond, not only because of ‘The Betrayal’ (this decade’s ‘The Deal’) but because of their limited power in the coalition. Regardless of how much he loves the Human Rights Act, if the Tories want it gone then there is very little the Lib Dems can do about it, save booking Conservative backbenchers on fake ‘research trips’ to the Maldives for when the vote has been scheduled.
Possibly because of these two points a lot the speech was teetering on the brink of policy related before falling back into rhetoric, so as to not promise something he can’t deliver.
The rest was a ‘look back at the year’, charting the glories of the Lib Dems time in office, much like a headteacher at a failing comprehensive school singling out the few good students, simultaneously failing to acknowledge the many multiple elephants in the room.
It is difficult to see how the Lib Dems can come back from this; I still want to vote for them, I still believe in the vast majority of their policies, but jumping into bed with the Tories was not what we voted for and it will take a lot to regain that trust. But what is done is done, yet it is somehow inconceivable how a party so tainted by one person will ever be able to be held close to the public’s heart once more.