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Lavinia Thompson on the Conference season

Thank God – or someone – that the UK party political conference season is finally over. I suppose that it was fitting that the Lib-Dems were last to step up to the plate, with their leader Nick Clegg gaining praise for his apparently good delivery of a stirring ‘Call to Arms’ speech as we face a period of just seven months and counting down until the next General Election. I only saw extracts of it upon the BBC 6 O’ Clock News and, to be fair, that is how it came across to me too.

That’s the ‘fun’ aspect of public speeches by consummate Westminster politicians. It’s never what they’re saying – it’s the way they saying it.

The phenomenon originates with what I call the Blair Syndrome. Once Our Tony had been identified as a mendacious hack by the general public, capable of pushing any policy anyone would care to elucidate like some Wild West snake-oil salesman, he was doomed. The oddest thing about it was that it took quite so long for the message to get home – he ‘reigned’ from 1997 until 2007, winning General Elections in 1997, 2001 and 2005 – because he had begun being being mercilessly lampooned as a vain bag of wind, totally devoid of principle, by impressionists and satirists even from his early days as Leader of the Opposition.

I guess that it simply confirms an unhealthy truth – sorry Abe [Lincoln], but – in Britain at least – you can fool most of the people most of the time.

Having set the gold standard, others capable of mimicking the ‘BS’ soon came along. For me, both David Cameron and Nick Clegg are mainstreamers in the tradition, with Clegg standing way out in front as quite the worst of all.

Here’s a revealing analysis of dilemmas now facing Mr Clegg and the Lib-Dems, written by Rafael Behr of THE GUARDIAN

The bottom line is that Nick Clegg is a professional national politician, a perfect example of the very ‘Westminster elite’ type status quo that media pundits now like to tell us – citing the evidence of the forces of popular change uncorked by the Scottish independence referendum, now extended all over the UK – stand for everything that ordinary voters now resent, distrust and ideally would want nothing to do with.

Which, undoubtedly, is going to make the 2015 General Election so nailed-on fascinating.

Part of the toxic reaction to politicians like Clegg is the suspicion that he (and the party he leads) being crushed like a bug in 2015 – as most of us would earnestly desire – will make no difference whatsoever to his future in the gravy-train-travelled world he inhabits.

He’ll next materialise, buried up to his neck in expenses and first class air fares, somewhere within the unelected EU bureaucracy, pontificating upon our lives from on high into whatever microphones and cameras are waved in his face. People like this can produce endless, high-falutin’ and plausible-sounding hot air to order. Such a job is perfect for Mr Clegg because it does away with the inconvenient need to him ever be accountable to the electorate.



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About Lavinia Thompson

A university lecturer for many years, both at home and abroad, Lavinia Thompson retired in 2008 and has since taken up freelance journalism. She is currently studying for a distant learning degree in geo-political science and lives in Norwich with her partner. More Posts