Coffee House

The three things keeping Nick Clegg safe

25 May 2014

This weekend was always going to be an unpleasant one for Nick Clegg. The delay between the council results on Friday and tonight’s European Election count meant that the pain was going to be drawn out for the Liberal Democrats, giving activists plenty of time to vent their anger at the leadership.

So far, the anti-Clegg mutterings have been fairly limited. There are no big beasts calling for him to go. This could change after tonight’s results, especially if the Lib Dems come behind the Greens. But I suspect that three things will keep Clegg safe.

1). He’s made very clear he won’t go without a fight. Trying to force a leader out of office is an unpleasant and mucky business and I doubt that many Liberal Democrat MPs have the stomach for that fight. Indeed, those close to Vince Cable have always been clear that you won’t find him trying to get Clegg out against his will.

2). I doubt that there would be a coronation even if Clegg did go. Sandra Gildley, the ex Lib Dem MP who is one of those calling for Clegg to go, was on the TV earlier suggesting that Vince Cable could take over until the election after which there would be a full leadership contest. But I suspect that if Clegg was forced out, his loyal ally Danny Alexander would then stand for the leadership. He disagrees with Cable on what the party’s economic and political strategy should be and it is hard to imagine him standing idly by in these circumstances.

3). There is the question of what the alternative is for the Lib Dems. At the moment, they look set to lose a significant number of their Labour facing seats but hang on to most of their Tory facing ones. If they tacked left and quit the coalition early, they would endanger their Tory facing ones but with no guarantee that their position in their Labour facing ones would improve materially.

If Clegg was prepared to go quietly, there might be quite a large number of Lib Dems who would like him to go. But I suspect that those who are prepared to put the party through a long, bloody and divisive battle with no guarantee of success are relatively few in number.

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Show comments
  • Fergus Pickering

    The Lib Dems are very stupid, – otherwise they would not be Lib Dams – but there is a limit even to their asininity. I a voter approves of Cable the closet socialist, wy vore Lib Dem in the first place. Why not go for the full Monty? Additionally, Cable is a silly ld man and looks older

  • beenzrgud

    Those 3 things should read
    Mind bending levels of arrogance
    Inate ability to doublethink.
    All we need to do is get him into a padded cell and he can be “safe” forever !!

  • Mike

    Who gives a f*** about about Clegg as he’s already lined his pockets and will no doubt find a new trough in Brussels to stick his snout in ! Blair feather bedded his future and I’m certain Clegg has done the same as they both knew their lies wouldn’t stand the test of time !

  • Michael Macdonald

    my organisation that has Danny Alexander as a credible leader really should disband immediately

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …oh so you’re racist against the gingered, is it?

      • Michael Macdonald

        even gingers have disowned Danny

  • sfin

    There is only one thing going for the clegglet, in my view.

    He had the cojones to put his money where his mouth is and engage in open, televised debate over Europe. (He lost each time – but at least we got some rare honesty on this biggest of questions).

    Apart from that – he epitomises the polished, ‘professional’, London-centric politician which has blighted our national life ever since Mandleson and the Blair creature decided that change for change’s sake was a good thing, and that lying to parliament and one’s electorate is merely being ‘political’.

    I look forward to this particular, slow and painful, political death.

  • Jonathan Burns

    Clegg the EU Puppet should be left alone, let him sink the LibDems:-)

  • roger

    Let him spin in the wind until his party gets crushed in 2015, just stop him getting a cushy Brussels commission job .

  • fathomwest

    Quite incredible that Cameron the architect of the breakdown of the local structure of Associations is not having calls for him to go. He has helped UKIP gain support from former honest, hardworking grass root supporters of the Conservative Party.
    The Conservative Party under Cameron will have no chance whatsoever of winning the general election. Where have those with backbone, in Parliament, gone?

  • FlippityGibbit

    What a lot of twaddle! The only thing keeping Clegg going are the continual prayers by everyone who is a Euro-sceptic that he survives because he is the best weapon we have in convincing people we are telling the truth by the simple fact he disagrees with us. That man has driven more votes to UKIP than anybody else! I should know I used to vote Lib Dem myself!

  • Swiss Bob

    The only thing most of the electorate care about is that the duplicitous liar and his party of pervs get the boot.

    Then the Cleggs can Foxtrot Oscar to Spain with their ill gotten gains.

    • telemachus

      Many of us are extremely grateful that they moderated untrammelled Osbornism

      • Swiss Bob

        GFY. You are a troll.

        A troll that is going to see his master on the unemployment queue, or the equivalent, a nice post at some scummy financial institution for services rendered.

      • Swiss Bob

        You should be thanking UKIP for destroying the BNP.

        Members of which you are happy to accept in your party, unlike UKIP, you ghastly little fascist.

  • Carol

    Dead men walking and as for Danny Alexander he’s more tory than Cameron.

    • Rtd Colonel

      So was Lenin

  • DavidL

    Having decided to join the Coalition, and committed to a full Parliamentary term, the Lib Dems’ only chance – and I acknowledge it’s a pretty slender one – at the next Election is to point to the growing economy and say that, whatever the compromises they had to make, they acted in the national interest, to ensure a stable government was in place to deal with the financial mess they inherited, and the economic facts show that they did the right thing. If they decide to have an internecine war now, they really are going to get wiped out.

    • Alexsandr

      if they point to their success in coalition, how can they then make a coalition with Labour? That would be so 2 faced.

  • MirthaTidville

    I agree Cleggy should be left as their leader until the next election,without a doubt. That should ensure their annihilation, that is long overdue

    • Alexsandr

      sorry? do you think the bumbling useless Cable would fare any better? Or beaker/danny alexsander?

      • MirthaTidville

        Oh certainly not, just that I think Cleggy is a racing certainty to take them into annihilation

    • Kitty MLB

      Actually I think the Lib Dums should go now. So we can at least bee free
      of them within the Conservative Party as we go into the next election.
      One we shall win. As a Conservative majority is what the country needs.

  • Hello

    “But I suspect that those who are prepared to put the party through a long, bloody and divisive battle with no guarantee of success are relatively few in number”

    Yeh, but they do have a long, bloody and divisive battle coming. They’ll be those that want to use what they did in government to define everything the party does in the future, and they’ll be those that want to pretend that the LibDems didn’t exist between 2010-2015.

    What does all this mean for coalition negotiations in 2015?

    • Alexsandr

      If lab or tory even think of going into coalition in 2015 with this bunch of rejected failures it will be political suicide. for them. If the limp dems thought supporting the failed labour party in 2010 was wrong, then lab or tory supporting the catastrophic electoral failures in 2015 that will be the lib dems would be so undemocratic and just plain wrong.
      someone needs to tell simon hughes this. He was sliming away on radio 4 on fridays PM saying they could retain many of their seats with a reduced vote share. what a huhne.

  • Kernow Castellan

    The LibDems have served a very useful purpose. They have rediscovered that the smaller party in a British coalition always gets destroyed. This had been forgotten over the last few decades, and this very good reminder should see off future coalitions for a while.

    • telemachus

      Who are we reminding
      The LibDems have suffered
      UKIP will never get there
      Thank God

      • Grey Wolf

        This must be an awful day for you.
        UKIP at # 1.
        Labour trailing and signs of infighting emerging!

        • Kitty MLB

          You won’t let things go to the head will you. Enjoy the moment
          in the sunshine .

          • Grey Wolf

            Well, those who are outside the political bubble of Lab-Lib-Con have an enormous distance to go. And for them sunshine is a distant dream too. But its a start.

            Perhaps, we can still save ourselves from oblivion from mass immigration from dystopian places, from corrosive PC, from fighting pointless wars in hell-holes of the world, from liar-politicians.

            • Kitty MLB

              No. Sunshine gives people false hope that the rain will never appear and its how you deal with the rain that proves your worth. Even Blair and Clegg were basking in the sunshine once. Bright words without responsibility is popular.
              I have no real issue with UKIP and agree with a lot of their
              policies as a Right Wing Tory.
              But being built up this much, as the countries saviour is just not healthy and when that happens you can be sure a epic fall is just around the corner.

              • Grey Wolf

                I see where you are coming from. Perhaps you and I have more areas of agreement than disagreement. But I must point out a few things.

                ‘Right Wing Tory’ – That creature does not exist. You cannot be a Tory and right wing at the same time. Tories are a progressive lot – believe in world improvement, egalitarianism, progressivism etc. – anathema to right wingers!

                Blair was basking in the sunshine because the stupid people voted him in thrice! And Call Me Dave wanted to be his heir. Liberal-progressives all. Both quite happy to do the bidding of the neo-cons (vile ex-Trotskysists with special focus on the hellhole called mid-east).

  • Span Ows

    1. a fight that will be of no interest to 90% of the population and that will have zero impact on the political landscape of the country.
    2. moot point (see 1.)
    3. Disband: they are neither Liberal nor Democratic and a very nasty bunch at local levels; orange-bookers to the very lefty-liberal “Conservative” Party. Lefty loons to Labour.

    • telemachus

      You may slag off the LibDems but at least they have the courage of their convictions and are not racist
      Further their leader does not misguide our young into ridiculous repetitive drinking habits
      Nor slag off Belgium and its premier in the most childish of rants
      I counsel you to look at a few Farage Schoolboy performances on you tube

      • Tim Reed

        Ignore the limpet.

      • Adam Carter

        There you go again with your ridiculous ‘racist’ slur.
        Lenny Henry wanted more black faces on TV. He didn’t mention talent, he mentioned ‘black’.
        David Lammy thinks that Bernie Grant’s old seat should always have a black MP. No mention of talent, just ‘black’.
        Diane Abbot thinks that white people ‘divide and rule’. No mention of politics, just ‘white’.
        Why don’t you denounce these statements. Is it because they is black?

        • telemachus

          I take it you are Ukip also


          • Adam Carter

            Yes, I voted UKIP but I am not a member.
            UKIP is not anti-immigration, as you know full well. It is in favour of controlled and managed immigration.

            Will you denounce the racisT rtemarks of Lenny Henry, David Lammy and Diane Abbot?
            Will you denounce the RoP?

            • telemachus

              Of course not anti immigration
              Just apply racial principles to it
              Note how Farage keeps quoting Australia

              • Mike

                Nothing wrong with OZ or are you a a racist and anti Australian !

              • Grey Wolf

                You are a dimwit.

          • Ingenious Cognomen

            Then reflect on why anti immigration posters were placed prominently in Northern communities with large Asian populations

            Is it because of the demonstrable fact that British Asians are the most racist community in the UK?

            • telemachus

              Oh dear
              Another Ukip opinion

              • Ingenious Cognomen

                Are all facts you disagree with “UKIP opinions”?

            • Simon Delancey

              Have you been living in a cave? Only white people can be racist!

              • Mike

                Love the irony !

            • Mike

              Got that right !

          • Mike

            Trouble with being confronted with the facts are we ?

            Why don’t you debate for a change instead of trotting out crap and changing the subject !

          • Kennybhoy

            “Then reflect on why anti immigration posters were placed prominently in Northern communities with large Asian populations.”

            Don’t you mean “Northern Asian cities”? :-)

      • Adam Carter

        The true racists in the UK are the lefties who don’t denounce the RoP.
        If the ideas of the RoP were put forward by middle-aged white men the organisation would be banned.
        And yet so many lefties won’t denounce the RoP.
        Is it because most of its adherents are brown?
        Racist lefties.

      • Mike

        Au contraire, the LibDumbs sell out their convictions at the first opportunity just as Clegg did !

      • Grey Wolf

        I happen to enjoy Farage’s rants.

      • unikey

        How fast people forget the LibDem sellout on their election pledge. The only thing Lib Dems are interested in is power for themselves and damm the country and everyone else.

      • Fergus Pickering

        WHO is Belgium’s premier. Does anybody know?

    • Dicky14

      I kind of agree with you but 1) they’re just coming down to their core which looks like 7-10% in a general which could have a little impact on the country – they do have some decent constituency MPs so incumbancy could vary the vote share. I’m not saying it’s interesting just that, you know, a Clegg execution would be good telly during the world cup. You would assume that faced with the option of perdition and obscurity that the MPs would just do a quick kill – they get to blame Clegg for weakness and look decisive too. You’d think it was now or never and never means a cold, bleak, lonely existence, forming little cliques in the back rooms of dilapidated town halls in the middle of nowhere – curiously all related to each other.
      2) God alone knows how Libbers do internals – never been able to figure it out but then I liked Ming and they changed him for Clegg – bit of a mistake you’d think – a bit doddery yet erudite ‘right about Iraq’ dude kinda beats a cocky and incompetent teenager anyday. Ah, hindsight – what a beautiful view!
      3) I always thought it was constitutional reform that was their thing, their USP, their modus vivendi to which all held. Not a bad principle I guess, it’s either fight now and kill Clegg or watch as the tedious inevitability or their protracted entrance to the wilderness years runs its dreary path. I don’t think they should disband, just call it. I’d be surprised if Forsyth is right and Alexander would chuck his hat into the ring – they must do internal polling. Vince would certainly be a better electoral prospect that Clegg.

  • Grey Wolf

    Lib Dems are marginal to UK politics now which is going to be more fractious than ever before. UKIP will have a significant share of voters behind them and Greens may find a bigger voice. Not sure Clegg is going to have a political future in the Kingdom. Will he pack off to the EU? Perhaps. What is he going to do in the UK? What does he have to offer? The days of pious platitudes about ‘fairness’ seem to be over. Politics are going to be quite bitter now for sometime. The right fringe forces are resurgent all over Europe.

    • telemachus

      Major mistake to write off the LibDems
      They have a very loyal voter base in many nurtured constituencies

      • Advocatus_Diaboli_69

        Really? They’ve just lost 8 MEPs. Hardly smacks of loyalty does it?

      • Mike

        There’s two ways of looking at your statement –

        1/ The inexplicable hoping for the impossible against all odds & factual evidence in the vain belief that eventually the repetition of the same failed policies will eventually produce an acceptable result.


        2/ You have s*** for brains and nothing will change that !

        I’ll, go with the latter.

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