Can Clegg Carry His Party?

Yesterday Clegg announced plans to “streamline” decision making in the LibDems, in reality giving him more control, today he announces that the party will reduce the overall tax burden. Effectively he is moving the party away from social democracy and back to liberalism, shifting the party from the centre left to the centre right.
Promising to slash Whitehall waste and cutting taxes, reducing the number of MPs – all good stuff. We have been here before, Ming muttered the same kind of thing – talking about deregulation and reducing the scope of the state. Yet the press releases continued to pour out from his shadow team calling for more regulations and more state spending. The modern successors to the Liberal Party seem to have lost the language of classical liberalism. They are always clamouring for “something to be done” by the state. Cameron’s personal responsibility agenda and assertion that “there is such a thing as society, it is just not the same as the state” is an authentically liberal stance.

Clegg can probably carry the parliamentary party, however the activist base is way to the left of his voters. Clegg’s party is in collective denial that it faces annihilation at the hands of the Tories in much of the South East. How will he get the legendary sandal-wearing, lentil-loving weirdy beardies to sell the new message?




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John McDonnell tells the Gallery/Lobby lunch what the priest told him to do…

‘He persuaded me to do this. He said you need to soften your image. So do Mumsnet and do this…. I’m trying to soften my image.’

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