Yesterday over on the Lib Dem Voice there was a review/summary of Deputy PMQ's. I haven't seen it but by all accounts Nick Clegg was taking flack from all sides, this goes with the almost constant ridicule in the press, mainly due to non-stories such as the 3pm close of his box and pretending not to know he was in charge. I was expecting this, but what really forced home the issues for me was the comment by Val:
"...my gut feeling about Nick Clegg is that he is actually a guy with a conscience that probably meant well when he started out and that may be why he looks so tired and in fact on his way to being ill. He perhaps is not thick skinned and ruthless enough to get in the Westminster cesspit where most politicians and journalists operate.
I fear for our country, as anyone with any good intentions will be destroyed by the media simply for the fun of it. It is getting worse. They twist and spin everything anyone does or says. We have a very destructive media that should be holding the politicians to account and opening up intelligent debate but it seems hellbent on spiteful gossip and destroying people. Sadly we have many politicians of the same ilk but I suspect Nick Clegg isn’t one of them.
Why ever would you encourage your children to go into Politics?"
In answer to her rhetorical question at the end, should I ever have children I would not encourage them to go into Politics. It is a thankless task as even someone with the best intentions as soon as they get into a position where they can start really making a difference they become a figure of fun.
Val is spot on with what our media should be doing - promoting transparency, preventing corruption and encouraging an open debate, however I feel she is misguided in saying that Nick gets portrayed the way he does for fun, they do it because it is in their interests to do it. As bad as it is good stories don't see newspapers, they don't keep people tuning in to rolling 24 hour news, what does that are scandals and stories where they can obtain a negative human element. It could also be argued that the media benefits from the two party system especially with most paper's links to parties, non of whom are linked to the Lib Dems, and as such it is in the best interests of their party to have a smaller opposition.
From a Labour perspective it is obviously in their best interests not to partake in the call for pluralism. This is why they are being opportunistic in opposing every measure that the government puts forward rather than coming to the table and saying we like this idea but think it would be better if you did x/y/z - even if this is good for the country it doesn't please those floating voters who are just unhappy with all the cuts (even if Labour would have done exactly the same in power). It is also definitely in their best interests to crush the Liberal Democrats as many left leaning members of the party fit much more comfortably on their side of the fence than the Tories as will many voters.
In any case, even if the numbers had worked, I don't feel that a coalition with Labour could have worked out. They struggled to get on with each other when having a governing majority with their constant rumours of infighting and lack of compromise mainly due to their internal power struggle. I would wager there has been much greater arguments regarding policy in this government but to my mind they have been much more professional about it (although at times less speed more haste might have been advisable). I don't feel that Labour would have been able to cope with the need for compromise in the same way. I hope they prove me wrong over the coming four years as if the economy improves and as such our vote doesn't capitulate as expected we may find ourselves with another hung parliament and I don't think anyone in our party should want us to be tied into perpetually siding with the Conservatives which is all that would happen unless Labour can show themselves to be capable of a different kind of politics.
Nick Clegg is trying to listen, he is trying to do what he thinks is right and as he only has 57 MPs to bargain with when discussing policy I feel he is doing rather well to bring forward things that are obviously important to him as well as mainly to the party. However no matter how well he does this wont get portrayed well and the figure of fun image that is getting associated with him will be difficult to remove, to do this he'll have to stop appearing as a victim which is almost impossible when being ganged up on from all sides.