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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

More of Clegg's Fudge

The direct hand of the Leader has been absent from all the reporting of the squalid case of Lord Rennard; but it is generally accepted that when a party leader wants some outcome in any issue she or he gets their way. Every political leader throughout history has attracted minions who will do the dirty work, and the clever subordinates know that their futures are more secure if they protect the reputation of the leader while others deal with the detritus. Ergo it can be assumed that Nick Clegg is not unhappy with the whitewash of the weasel-worded tactician.

This all helps to reduce the reputation of a leader whose decline from a stance of moral rectitude has been quite spectacular. The episode of student fees was a bald betrayal of principle which the Liberal Democrat party embraced in order to gain a small share of supposed power. Having become Deputy Prime Minister - and thus not taken up the powers and responsibilities of a departmental minister - a role had to be found for Clegg and a major component of it was constitutional reform. During the 2010 election there was a consensus over all political parties on two constitutional issues. The half-cock reform of the House of Lords under which the government could appoint unlimited numbers of Life Peers to sit alongside a rump of hereditary peers who were elected by all hereditary peers who bothered to vote was patently unsatisfactory. The 'West Lothian Question' is a cute phrase to characterise the anomaly that Scots MPs can vote on English law, while Scots law is determined by the Scottish Parliament [which by definition has no English, Welsh or Ulster representatives]; and appended to that issue is the anomaly that Scottish constituencies for the Westminster parliament have many fewer voters than English, resulting in an over-representation of Scotland in the House. Clegg came up first with his crazy 'solution' to the lords issue: a wholly-elected upper house with crazy terms of election and an absurd duration of tenure. The proposals were rejected: so Clegg refused to take forward any work on the West Lothian Question and threatened to break the coalition government if he did not have his way. So the constitutional anomalies remain and Cameron has crammed more cronies into the House of Lords.

Clegg's latest acknowledged achievement is to induce his coalition partners to agree to providing free school meals for a large cohort of children [simply by announcing that it was government policy] without there being any appropriate funding in place. In order to comply, head teachers have been developing kitchens at the cost of withdrawing spending from other services and materials; then they will face the dilemma of where the children can be fed in limited premises without excessive disruption to existing activities.

Surely this squalor will influence voters next year?

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