Clegg: more walkouts

I’ll lightly skip over Clegg’s call for recall today (I’ve said what I have to say on that topic here) – I happen to question the practicalities but as an act of symbolism it is good politics. Instead I will concentrate on these paragraphs:

Clegg said Westminster should expect to see more protests from him – last week he staged a walkout from the Commons after he was denied his “in or out” vote.

“The kind of anger, noise, direct protest that you have seen from us recently – whether it is my stance on saying that I would prefer to go to court than give my data to a compulsory government ID card database or Vince Cable’s protest against the visit of the Saudi king, or our walkout of the Commons last week – far from seeing less of that, I think you will see more.”

Which is fine, but he should think about the purpose of all this is. The most dispiriting thing about Ed Davey’s walkout last week was his insistence it was a spontaneous thing. So does this mean the Lib Dem strategy is to just be spontaneous? And how does this square with insisting on having archaic debates over whether or not to have a debate?

By all means be anti-establishment, but that is not the same thing as the mindless activism that was on display last week. And it means no more lectures from front benchers about being against opportunism in future, thank you.


  1. Oh James,

    You are so Westminster Village you can’t even see it. The Lib Dem Quentin Letts.


  2. James, I certainly agree with you that while it is not only good, but essential to get noticed, this is only a political strategy if there is some obvious purpose behind it which points to a philosophical place we stand in or some action we propose to take.

    The reason that most of the media is pointing at us and laughing today is because nobody can see any credible reason for the Parliamentary Group’s actions over the past week, despite Clegg’s increasingly hot-tempered attempts to justify it and reassert his crumbling authority.

    In the public mind, we’re back in the beards and sandals corner. William Hague is going to have a lot of fun with our antics as this Bill continues through the House of Lords and then amendments come back to the Commons, and will not tire of reminding the world about it. Walking out to make a point no-one understands just looks like a tantrum, sitting on your hands over something you staged a walkout over looks confused, reprimanding those who expressed an opinion looks vindictive and silly.

    I notice that Chris Davies MEP has come out to defend Clegg today, saying (I am paraphrasing) that he is so obviously intelligent, self-deprecating and liberal that he will be leader of his party for a good long time. Well, maybe. But there is an extra ingredient in a capable and competent leader, and it is judgement. Clegg has shown himself to be worryingly devoid of judgement over the EU referendum fiasco. If we keep him as leader while he continues to show the judgment of the past week then we are effectively slitting our own throats.

  3. LFAT – the point I was making was merely that Clegg is insisting it was planned while Davey is insisting it wasn’t. They can’t both be right and like you I suspect it is Davey who is being economic with the truth here.

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