Skip to main content

If Cameron is Clegg lite...?

The comment that “Cameron is Clegg lite” troubles me a lot, especially because Nick Clegg said it himself.
Lite is a low-calorie, slimmer, weaker, more dilute, more basic, version of the original. The converse of lite is heavy, full strength, even “classic”. If Cameron is “Clegg lite”, what is the full-strength version?
With Nick Clegg, if you turn the sound off, you see someone who looks like Cameron, without a doubt. The similarities of age and physical characteristics between the two men are not something Nick Clegg can do anything about; but I wish he would give the way he dresses and his hairstyle a makeover, to make himself more distinct from Cameron. It would be a miscalculation to think that being easily mistaken for Cameron was an electoral asset. After all, Sir Winston Churchill deliberately cultivated an unmistakeable appearance; being short and bald didn’t matter at all.
More importantly than appearance, if you close your eyes, what do you hear? In January 2006 Matthew D’Ancona wrote in the Telegraph, apparently quoting from Nick Clegg: “He does not think that "clobbering middle England is the solution to our problems either economically or politically"”. D’Ancona added: “In an interview last September - long before Mr Cameron had said he would never endorse an insurance-based health service - Mr Clegg was warning that "it would be really, really daft to rule out any model from Europe or elsewhere" and that "breaking up the NHS is exactly what you do need to do"”. The implication that Clegg talked like Cameron was clear.
The Telegraph perceives Nick Clegg as like Cameron. In May 2007 the Telegraph comments page said that Clegg was: “a free marketeer with a commitment to localism. The Left-wing activists distrust him, but that perhaps is no bad thing.”
Last month, again in the Telegraph, Simon Heffer wrote: “Mr Clegg is felt to be more of a "Tory" than Mr Huhne. This is not just because he once worked for Leon Brittan, but because his belief in traditional liberal values of the sort adopted by Margaret Thatcher in her economic programme is thought to be rather strong.”
In January 2006 Nick Clegg told the Daily Telegraph that “slightly callow packaging and re-packaging” had been “the hallmark of David Cameron's leadership of the Conservatives” and that Cameron had been engaged in “rather hollow, presentational manoeuvres”. Absolutely; but if Clegg wins the leadership election, I hope his own style of leadership will not just be a heavier-gauge version of that.


Paul Tyler said…
I really worry about Lib Dems who rely on the Daily Teluhalf for their information about their party colleagues
Ed said…
Jo, I think you may be over analysing a neat bit of counter positioning. A bit like me suggesting you are saying the answer to our problems DOES lie with clobbering middle England. Which I'm sure you are not. Are you???
Barrie Wood said…
Hmmm ...our Tory PPC here in Torbay describes Clegg as 'Cameron Lite' - an oxymoron if there ever was one ! But he DOES come across in a spun, calculating fashion ala Blair and Cameron. Who needs more of the same ?
Barrie Wood said…
Hmmm ...our Tory PPC here in Torbay describes Clegg as 'Cameron Lite' - an oxymoron if there ever was one ! But he DOES come across in a spun, calculating fashion ala Blair and Cameron. Who needs more of the same ?
Jo Hayes said…
The Telegraph is a reputable paper with quite a big readership and unlikely to have misquoted Nick Clegg. If you prefer, I could quote The Times: "With the face of a choirboy and the instincts of a fox, Clegg ticks all the boxes in an era when image is everything." That sounds to me like Cameron.
I go on evidence, and what Clegg said about himself is evidence. It is an admission - perhaps unintentional - that he sees himself as on the same continuum as Cameron. I'm afraid I am allergic to counter positioning. To me politics is about getting things done, and I want to know how a Clegg programme would differ in its essentials from a Cameron one. The progressive majority of the electorate will not be attracted by a Lib Dem programme that blurs into that of the Tories.
Tristan said…
What I read into that comment on policy is that some Tories are really liberals...

Thatcher stole some of our creed, but left the rest behind. The Tories since WWII have had elements of liberalism (Churchill anyone? He also wanted the Conservatives and Liberals to merge, and several Liberal seats were held thanks to packs with the Tories).

Thatcher made some of this more explicit, but also ignored many other parts.

If some Tories feel comfortable with Clegg because he's a liberal, then they are. There's large sections of the Tories which won't, because they're not.

Clegg (and Huhne for that matter) are nothing like Cameron in one important way, they have a commitment to liberalism and policies, not some vague 'niceness' and hand waving.

Popular posts from this blog

My Remainer's Diary Day 299

For 298 days I have kept my #Remainer's Diary on Facebook. Two nights ago my FB account became inaccessible without explanation. So I'm back on Blogger.
Diary Day 299: the UK's Office of Budget Responsibility published its first Fiscal Risks Report, a 312-page tome, in accordance with a requirement introduced by Parliament in October 2015 that the OBR must produce a fiscal risks report at least once every two years. It is freely downloadable by anyone.  Fiscal is a fancy word for pertaining to government finances. Derivation: 16th century, from Latin fiscālis concerning the state treasury, from fiscus public money, the public purse. It is about government income and spending.  The Fiscal Risks Report refers to a wide range of "fiscal pressures", and says that the risks posed by Brexit "do not supplant the possible shocks and likely pressures that we have already discussed, but they could affect the likelihood and impact of many of them."  It states that imp…

ELDR news from Palermo

Here is my report back to Liberal Democrats who directly elected me (thank you!) to the party’s delegation to the European Liberal, Democratic and Reform Party (ELDR). The second Council meeting of 2011 (there are two annually) and the annual Congress took place in Palermo, Sicily on 23-25 November at the invitation of the Italia dei Valori (Italy of Principles) Party. There were resolutions and emergency resolutions proposed by member parties, too many to summarise here, of which the most significant was, I think, one from the UK Liberal Democrats on the prospect of war with Iran. The gist is that it expresses concern at military rhetoric, top-level consultations between military and political leaders and the stationing of military assets off the Iranian coast pointing to the possibility of pre-emptive attacks being launched by Israel and the USA against Iran., and it calls for steps to be taken in Europe to dissuade them. When the US military are still engaged in both Iraq and Afgha…

My #Remainer's Diary Day 300: constitutional crisis is coming

My #Remainer's Diary Day 300: I mull over a joint statement from the First Ministers of Wales and Scotland, Carwyn Jones and Nicola Sturgeon about the repeal bill. It says: “We have... put forward constructive proposals about how we can deliver an outcome which will protect the interests of all the nations in the UK, safeguard our economies and respect devolution.  “Regrettably, the bill does not do this. Instead, it is a naked power grab, an attack on the founding principles of devolution and could destabilise our economies.”  So a constitutional crisis that was latent ever since 23rd June 2016 is due to be thrashed out in Westminster debates.  A spokeswoman for the Maybot said she was not aware of a contingency plan for what might happen if Scotland or Wales refused legislative consent.  That is apart from the rows there will be about the bill's Henry VIII clause powers and putting human rights in doubt.  As the clock ticks, businesses act to protect themselves.  EasyJet announced…