Team Clegg: in full scale meltdown?

What is going on with Team Clegg? As Mark Littlewood wrote earlier this week, Clegg has surrounded himself with a team of people who, in 2006, very nearly let a 200-1 longshot defeat him.

It has taken them a geological age, in political terms, for them to get their website up and running.

Then, yesterday, I got an email message informing me that I had joined the teamclegg email list. All very interesting, but no-one asked me. Then, abruptly and with no explaination, I got an email this morning informing me that I had been removed.

I’m not sure whether to be offended that they added me to an email list that I didn’t ask to subscribe to, or offended that they clearly deem me not worthy to be on their list.

Surely Nick Clegg understands basic data protection law and good practice? If this is the haphazard way he plans to run the party, we should all be deeply concerned. My earlier comments that a good leader must have a good understanding of organisation is now at the forefront of my mind. If he can’t organise his way out of a paper bag, it won’t matter how great his charisma is – or even that he once appeared in a play with Helena Bonham Carter – a vote for him would be an act of irresponsibility.

Still undecided, but veering in a Huhne-ward direction this morning…


  1. I admit to a certain amount of hyperbole. πŸ™‚

    It’s either that or another picture of miniature piggies.

  2. “Surely Nick Clegg understands basic data protection law and good practice?”

    I really much doubt that Nick Clegg personally added you to the e-mail list or removed you from it. Did you already read this?

    “Still undecided…”

    Perhaps you think so, but I think you have already decided in the beginning. At least your symphaties have been clear all the time.

  3. I’m afraid I don’t have time to scour the blogs for explanations, although I note that Richard Allan has just emailed me an apology. Fair enough.

    I’ve never hid my sympathies for the Huhne campaign. He was right to stand in 2006 and if the party had elected him then we would not now be in this situation. But this is not a rerun of 2006 and I do recognise many of Clegg’s positive qualities. If I was definitely backing Huhne, I would have declared by now. Don’t presume to psychoanalyse me.

    Clegg’s problem is that I have lots of negative reasons to vote for him – the fact that the media has been all but holding a gun to the party’s head and insisting that we do for one. But I’m still looking for a positive reason from him for why people like me should support him, other than his obvious qualities as a speaker.

  4. So let me get this straight… one of your must-have abilities in the new leader’s team is the ability to design and roll out a completely new website with two days notice? Is that something we’re expecting to have to do on a regular basis?

    I admit that the e-mail thing is more serious than that, but Richard Allan has issued a comprehensive mea culpa taking full responsibility:

    And as for the language you use: You say, “Surely Nick Clegg understands basic data protection law and good practice?” – knowing full well that he won’t have been involved personally in setting up the mailing list, but doing rather more important things instead?

    And “meltdown”? Oh dear…

    Team Clegg have organised two excellent launch events inside a week, as well as winning the press coverage battle thus far – I would cut them a little slack organisationally!

    If these are serious reasons for backing Huhne it just makes me think your mind was made up anyway.

  5. It’s interesting. When I say that I’m not backing Huhne, Team Huhne use that as an opportunity to lobby me. When I say I’m not backing Clegg, Team Clegg use that as an opportunity to hector me.

  6. James, I think saying that Team Clegg is hectoring you is a little harsh. Two people who happen to be backing Nick have said you were being over the top in your headline, which was true but then that was why you picked it wasn’t it!

    But on to the substance of what you’ve said. Yes, Nick does have one or two celebrity friends (I didn’t know about most of them and I have worked for him for two years), and yes much of the media is saying he would make the best leader (although the Indy seems to be pretty pro-Huhne), but are those reasons NOT to vote for him? Are you going to be swayed simply by the media’s take on Nick’s campaign?

    If you’ve read his speech from the National Liberal Club it contained a lot more of the substance, and there will undoubtedly be more to come. But if you have particular questions then send me an email. I seem to be spending quite a bit of time at the moment reassuring friends that Nick is not some raving right-winger.

  7. You must admit, that when saying that you don’t support either, you still have shown much more warmth to the cause of Huhne than to the cause of Clegg. Have you for instance issued any criticisim towards Huhne or his campaign, like you have towards Clegg and his campaign? If so, I must have missed it somehow. You have been far from being impartial.

  8. And besides, nobody hectors you. Nobody can surpass you in that particular scill. You’re just too tough to beat.

  9. Since when did I accuse Nick Clegg of being right wing? And since when did I have a responsibility to be impartial?

  10. Paul, I know it’s a blog, but if James isn’t impartial, then he shouldn’t complain if the supporters of Clegg treat him differently than the supporters of Huhne.

  11. I will complain “Blah” (or is it Kieran?) as I thought Team Clegg were interested in my vote. If you want to tell me where to stick it, fine, I shall assume it is ex cathedra (sock puppets usually are in my experience).

    Bottom line, I really haven’t made my mind up. Just because I like Chris Huhne and his team and I think he was the right choice last time, it does not mean I’m going to vote for him. I’m amazed that this concept doesn’t appear to compute.

  12. I agree that Nick’s campaign is an organisational shambles (run by a couple of inexperienced westminster researchers) – and I say this one of Nick’s ardent supporters. I’ve sent in money and nomination names, and lists of helpers and supporters, at the earliest opportunity and haven’t recieved as much as thankyou – let alone an email, although I’ve had several from Chris’ team. I won’t be changing my vote (I didn’t think Chris was the right person to be leader this time or last time), but Chris’ campaign strikes me as being streets ahead.

    Basically, the leadership is Nick’s to loose. A key strategy to win is engaging members and supporters at the earliest opportunity, relying on the backing of the party establishment is not enough. If anyone from Nick’s team is reading this – get the message, you have to do better than this!!

  13. Hmmm, I could of course pretend to be a Huhne supporter, and tell you where to stick your vote… If you really are that easily manipulated.

  14. And I’m also very flattered that you assume that I’m speaking ex cathedra, but if you take a look at my IP-address and check where it is situated, you’ll soon find out that I’m inconveniently far away to run any campaign either for Nick or Chris.

  15. Paul Walter, don’t you think that I also have a right to free tought? I’m not sure about these things, but does being the blogger of the year give some kind of exclusive right to criticism in the Liberal Democrats, which other people don’t have?

  16. Kieran is the name given by the person who normally posts comments using your IP address. And you can sock puppet from anywhere. It’s called the World Wide Web.

  17. Blah,

    For what’s worth, based on the lengthy discussion I had with James last night, I am 100% sure that he’s undecided and neutral.

  18. Some additional clarification from the inside.

    We were caught completely unawares by the start of the campaign.

    The top priority was to get it launched in a professional manner that would do credit to the candidate and party. We think we did OK with this.

    At the same time, phones were melting down with supporters wanting to offer help etc. We have been recording all of this but have had to set up people and processes to respond effectively. This has been the priority over the last week and I think we are nearly there now.

    Unfortunately, we cocked up one of our methods for responding – the listserver – which is documented in this post and elsewhere. And just to add to the fun, the apology email, which I wanted to send as soon as I knew about the problem, did not get out properly last night and had to be sent again today.

    Apologies, James, for the explanation postdating the unsubscribe email – I hope you have received it now.

    So, to Strictly Anonymous, I hope we will do better as time goes on – I know we have to satisfy a (quite rightly) critical audience of experienced campaigners in the party in this campaign.

    But don’t think it is in ‘meltdown’. We really do have some very good people in the team whose competence and commitment I would strongly defend (please attack its leadership if anyone and I will try to respond frankly) but it does take time to pull all together for a campaign this size with no notice.

  19. Blah: “Paul Walter, donÒ€ℒt you think that I also have a right to free tought?”

    Did I say I was referring to you? Even if I was, I would have been referring to your handling the free thought of others, not whether or not you are allowed to express your own free thought.

  20. I appreciate the comments of Richard. With regard to an earlier comment, no, we are not expecting Nick Clegg to write his own website but leading a team is what a leader does. So yes, if that team makes mistakes then that is a reflection of the leader, of course. The leader of any given team can’t prance around and deny responsibility for anything the team does.

  21. I do think you’re being a bit harsh, James. I kind of thought “there but for the grace of the god I don’t believe in go I”. Muck ups can happen in any election and I was impressed by the way Richard took responsibility and apologised quickly.

    Doesn’t mean I’m voting for Nick, but this has not influenced my decision either way.

  22. My issue is this: Nick’s USP is his slick presentational skills. Nick is making a great deal about the level of support he has. Yet when problems like this arise it is, I am given to understand, because his campaign is a one man and his dog operation and that I ought to make allowances.

    Fine. I’ll make allowances. But if the reality is discordant with the pitch, is it really so outrageous to point this out?

  23. I think I’ll just join in with some of the others in pointing out that, so far, you’ve accused Team Clegg of being in meltdown, that “you fear” Nick’s in favour of throwing out random disconnected policies to tempt voters in and that he’s just “a communicator” while Huhne’s the “strategist”.

    I accept that you’re undecided and it’s good that you’ve not just entirely jumped on one particular bandwagon uncritically, but you *are* almost entirely negative about Clegg and positive – but worried about the cost to the party – about Huhne.

    The choice to me is very simple. Nick has the more bold policy agenda – one that puts law and order and education at the front (thus giving the impression that he’s vaguely aware of the concerns that ‘real people’ have) and demonstrates his very liberal commitment to getting to the root causes of problems. He’s also someone that can open doors for us, not just with the media but with the public at large.

    Huhne’s strength is that he’s very closely identified with the party’s current policy agenda and so has some support amongst the activists, especially the environmentalists. He’s the business as usual candidate, but hopefully better at selling us than Ming was.

    To me it’s a total no-brainer. Clegg’s the party’s best chance of avoiding a fatal squeeze at the next general election. That 41% poll for the Tories was a reaction to the previous polls that showed that Labour would win a November election – and so our supporters abandoned us in a heartbeat to prevent that happening.

    I should know – I was one of them. It’s only since Ming stood down that I rejoined the party and have become an enthusiastic Lib Dem supporter once again. For me Clegg is absolutely everything I could possibly hope for in a Lib Dem leader and more than enough to stop me doing the unthinkable. He’s blown away the fatalism I had that the Lib Dems would never really get their acts sorted out enough to become a serious electoral force.

    Still, keep us thinking and keep us rational but, you know, it wouldn’t hurt to turn that critical eye of yours to Huhne if you’re really interested in keeping things balanced. Pointing out that the media will destroy us for electing Huhne isn’t the same as wondering where his detailed policy platform is, or asking him to demonstrate the leadership and communication skills he says he has.

    And, you know, if you do come down on the side of Huhne then I’d be interested to know why πŸ™‚

  24. And yes, I think yes you’re supposed to make allowances for candidates that have had to build their website, their team and their entire pitch to the party at the drop of a hat. Nominations haven’t even closed yet…

  25. Blah/Kieran, I repeat I was not questioning your right of free thought. The way you handle free thought in others is in question given that you appear to bridle at it. You appear to be unwilling to accept that some can have differing views and still be open minded.

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