Clegg has come up with a great Cleggism today: “ferocity with a purpose.”
I think it’s actually the first genuinely candid thing he’s said all week. What he’s basically saying is that all this talk about “savage” cuts and doom and gloom as been a calculated attempt to wrong foot the party and “drag” (his word according to the FT) the party over to his and Vince Cable’s position.
So when I complained earlier this week to the BBC that he was playing to the gallery and that conference felt like having a drunk pick a fight with you in a pub, it turns out that is exactly how Nick wanted me to feel.
All Terribly Clever of course, I’m surprised he is now bragging about it though. I have to admit that this blog indulges in a bit of ferocity with a purpose itself from time to time, which is how it has acquired the reputation it has.
So, in this spirit of glasnost, I am hereby changing the subtitle of this blog in deference to my leader.
UPDATE: As the FT article in question has vanished behind it’s firewall, I am including the relevant section here:
Mr Clegg is unrepentant. In a Financial Times interview, he says that describing looming cuts as “savage” was part of an attempt to “acclimatise the party to a changing environment”.
He would not relish cutting back the state. But he admits that he and Mr Cable have had to “drag” the party into a more realistic position that might include a freeze on overall public spending and shelving plans to abolish university tuition fees.
This has led to resentment and anger from a party whose commitment to public services is almost as profound as its love of deliberative (and cumbersome) policy- making. Mr Cable, in particular, has come under fire for failing to consult.
But Mr Clegg says Mr Cable has given the party economic credibility unimaginable in recent years. “There have been conferences in the past when we debated whether the royal family should smoke marijuana,” he jokes.
He rejects suggestions of tensions with a man whose popularity has transcended that of the party. “I feel like the captain of a cricket team who has the best batsman around.”
The Liberal Democrat leader closes his conference knowing that he badly needs to simplify his party’s message, and that beyond the cuts the party has a positive view of the future. He calls this “ferocity with a purpose”