Coffee House

Clegg takes on the Establishment (and the Tories) again

29 May 2012

So Nick Clegg wants to present himself as anti-Establishment, does he? That’s hardly surprising. After all, the Deputy Prime Minister has ploughed this furrow before now, attacking the ‘vested interests’ that are the banks and the political class. And it’s generally a large part of the Lib Dems’ ‘differentiation strategy’ to come across as insurgents in suits.

But Clegg’s comments today are still striking for how far they weaponise this theme and then turn it against the Tories. It’s not just the context of it: with Tory ministers — including Jeremy Hunt — appearing before Leveson this week, Clegg chooses to attack those who ‘bow and scrape in front of Rupert Murdoch’. It’s the specifics too: Clegg stresses that ‘My view, hardened by two years on the inside, is that Britain is not broken at all. It is the British establishment that is broken’ — which sounds like a dismissal of David Cameron’s Broken Britain thesis.


Of course, it’s right that politicians should be talking about the things that Clegg is talking about: expenses, the banks, collusion between politicians and the media, etc — whether you agree with his prescriptions or not. But plenty of his Tory colleagues in the coalition will find this galling nonetheless. For starters, they’re irritated at how the Lib Dems are trying to seize the cool ‘n’ caring mantle for themselves. For seconds, they think that the Lib Dems aren’t exactly beyond a bit of bowing and scraping themselves. ‘Hypocrisy,’ is how one Tory MP described it to me recently.

And all this is coming after Clegg’s Europe speech last week, which — as James revealed — was delivered without the assent of No.10. It already threatened to be a bad-tempered spell for the coalition. The Deputy Prime Minister could be making it worse.

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  • Sir Everard Digby


    You obviously missed the sign. It reads ‘do not feed the troll’

    You would be better advised to entertain yourself by watching chess playing pigeons.

  • MilkSnatcher

    Nick Clegg – If you want to be anti-Establishment just precipitate an election and see how quickly you are chucked out of the Establishment you complain so bitterly about and suck so greedily from.

  • Barbara

    A politician from a banking family blaming politicians and bankers for our ills. Satire just died.

  • TomTom

    ” Go into an Oxford or Cambridge lecture theatre and only one in 100 will [have been] on free school meals.”

    Says Cleggeron but fails to ask why The London Oratory is failing since 6% pupils there are of Taxpayer-Funded Meals

  • TomTom

    Clegg is just saying his Atheist Catechism so his children can get into The London Oratory School – the Catholic Independent (State Funded) Selective School for Comprehensive Enthusiasts

  • michael


    You know as well as everyone else that
    Gordon was conned by Greenspan seeking British deregulation so he could offload cheap looking toxic american debt. (the whole raison d’etre for demutualisation) The whole nation was subsequently conned by the something for nothing share grab…. Which incidentally is something that your glory boy tried to rekindle with his perverse scheme to offload bank liability(guarantees)for Euro debt, by foisting respective shares onto an unsuspecting peeps.

  • Austin Barry


    The incident in Miami yesterday is, perhaps, an extreme example of the inherent perils of gay marriage.

  • Dennis Churchill

    May 29th, 2012 9:09pm
    Yes, liberals can be very unliberal when you disagree with them.

  • MikeF

    The recent statement by Clegg that should be subject to some scrutiny is his assertion that he would deny LibDem MPs the right to a free vote on ‘gay marriage’. A supposed ‘liberal’ issuing a diktat that aims to constrain the ability of elected Members of Parliament to vote according to their conscience? But then in an age when ‘diversity’ means conformity and ‘equality’ means preference I suppose it is just about par for the course.

  • Nicholas

    telemachus, despite the best efforts of the Barclay Bros and Andrew Neil I think you are on the wrong site to be praising the arch-goon Broon. Try Left Foot Forward or one of the other self-congratulatory, narrow-vision and dream catching socialist sites.

  • Halcyondaze

    Politicians SHOULD be talking about the economy, the EU, immigration, crime and the destruction of our country – not shrieking about this piffle like this little wet.

    Clegg is the embodiment of the hand-wringing, self-hating, leftie class that has brought this country to its knees – riddled us with guilt and self-hatred, tied us up in knots, turned us against each other and allowed those who least deserve it to increase, thrive and conquer.

    The man is a disgrace. He’s benefitted from every privilege on the way up – and now he’s determined to pull the ladder up. A man who will end up milking more millions out of the corrupt EU when he leaves behind the smoking ruins of Britain. The sooner UKIP supplant his shower as the third party the better.

  • Alan Douglas

    “Clegg wants to present himself as anti-Establishment”.

    Well Nick, open your eyes – you might find that the “establishment” right now has “EU” written right through it.

    Any chance of going against THIS establishment ? Yup, thought so ….

    Alan Douglas

  • telemachus’

    May 29th
    How can you say that?
    You like the rest of us basked in the economic glory engineered by Gordon before the greedy bankers screwed us.
    Gladly Gordon rescued both us and the US from the banking crisis

    Until George put the dampers on.

  • Hexhamgeezer


    As other posters have said, why does the Spec and the rest of the media give the over-privileged little pipsqueak such an easy ride?

  • Mirtha Tidville

    Keep going Cleggy…..lets have more of it…..which will bring the next election forward by years and witness the annihilation of the Dim Lubs…Luverley Juberley

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Good old nick – Wrong About Everything – All Of The Time.

    Murdoch is more responsive to the public than little weasels like him and his Brussels masters will ever be.

    When it comes to ‘bowing and scraping’ I’d pick Murdoch over little nicky’s choice of the likes of Barroso any day of the week.

  • Nicholas

    Well said Cynic – I agree entirely. Clegg is too arrogant to realise that there are many people alive who have a longer and more grounded acquaintance with broken Britain than he does. As someone else noted – why do the media let him get away with this crap? He should be torn to shreds.

  • Fergus Pickering

    The man has a licence to be silly. He’s trying to pick a quarrel but he is best ignored.

  • Cynic

    ‘My view, hardened by two years on the inside, is that Britain is not broken at all … ‘ Whereas my view, honed by sixty-odd years of living through it, is that the Britain I knew has been shattered by the deliberate policies of the last fifteen years.

  • oldtimer

    Does the public at large take Clegg seriously any more? Apart, that is, from throwing spanners into the work of the government of which he is supposed to be a member? The coalition is increasingly disfunctional.

  • Thomas Paine

    Utterly ludicrous. The man is as establishment as you can get (from his education, to his connections-assisted glide into politics, to his free ride upwards as MEP and MP.

    Who, precisely, is this charade intended to impress?

  • Axstane

    The LibDems have never been anything except “the others” portraying themselves as whatever kind of saint is fashionable that week.

    They are beneath contempt and Clegg is an unpatriotic establishment member with his paws deep into Europe which, in turn, has its fingers deep into him.

    If he is the solution what the hell is the question?

  • Bruce, UK

    As anti-establishment as that poor little rich girl banged up for her part in the riots. It’s a fashion thing for soft-0left trendinistas. The only difference being one of scale in social harm – Clegg is far more harmful.

  • Austin Barry

    “My view, hardened by two years on the inside, is that Britain is not broken at all. It is the British establishment that is broken’

    Soundbite silliness from a terminally silly man.

    One despairs.

  • WIlliam Blakes Ghost

    How can someone who worships supinely at the alter of ‘ever closer integration’ in Van Rompuy’s Crystal Palace in Brussels be described as anti-establishment? Clegg’s faux pretense and associated antics are the most risible type of student politics that are the intellectual level of a juvenile delinquent who thinks it a good idea to get drunk and burn down cactus collections. Oh wait a minute……

    This is just superficial cheap partisanship within the establishment tent. There is nothing anti-establishment about it.

  • Dennis Churchill

    Clegg is an archetypal member of the European political class down to his Dutch-Russian background and Spanish wife. As for bowing and scraping, no one bows and scraps more to Brussels than Clegg.

  • TomTom

    “attacking the ‘vested interests’ that are the banks and the political class”

    Hell if he really stirs up hatred against Bankers he will upset Daddy; and if he stirs it up against Lawyers he’ll get pussy-whipped

  • Danielle

    It’s funny how Clegg thinks the British Establishment is broken but the European Elite is just fine. The man is a joke. Why do journalists never give Clegg a real grilling on his Europhile views?

  • perdix

    Clegg used the “we’re not one of them” with success in the GE debates but his ratings were not followed by electoral triumph.It’s easy to be agin things but harder to make the difficult decisions in government – as the LDs have shown.

  • Nicholas

    But Clegg is a member of the professional Euro-political-bureaucratic establishment elite that now run everything and are far more dangerous to democracy and the freedom of the individual. They are the political class and it’s a bit rubbish for the Lib Dems to claim they are insurgents when they are actually in government and their leader is as thick as thieves with the Euro politburo.

  • Bill Brinsmead

    Oh I don’t know.

    Nick as anti-establishment? Westminster School, Cambridge, Dad is a banker, lobbyist [with GJW government communications], bag carrier to Leon Brittan, MEP …. he embodies the establishment he purports to oppose. Confusing.

  • jon dee

    Clegg knows the only hope for restoring Lib Dem credibility is to bring the Government down, and further hope that he’s seen as a hero, by doing it.

  • telemachus’

    Now Nick

    What about a different coalition

    You do not have the charisma to lead but with your troops Ken and a few others led by ED Balls the world is your oyster

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