Anyone who believes in Buddhism, Christianity, even astrology, knows that the longer we pursue an aim that is destructive and harmful to us, we more we will suffer. How much more pain and unpopularity will be heaped on Nick Clegg, how much more will he have to suffer before he finds the courage within himself to admit the unavoidable truth? It’s over.
In an article in the Saturday Daily Mail, Chief Political Commentator Patrick Flynn says just that. In an article headed Somebody should tell Nick Clegg that it’s all over, Patrick says: “….this week something changed. A tipping point was reached. It was demonstrated that Clegg is finished as a political salesman. His brand is trashed beyond repair. Any idea that comes with him attached has little chance of winning public support. In short, he has been rendered useless and will have to go.”
Nick Clegg recently observed that it is unfair that the children of rich parents “snaffle the lion’s share of top jobs by dint of their connections ushering them into internships which can be used to burnish their CVs. But he failed to anticipate the questions that would be asked of him – especially by middle class parents who will quite properly do anything they can to help their offspring. It soon emerged that Clegg had benefited from just such an internship at a bank, arranged for him by his financier father and that his first job in politics owed much to the former foreign secretary Lord Carrington having been a neighbour and family friend.” Patrick O’Flyn continued: “Clegg is simply not cut out for enduring unpopularity. As a politician from the third party he is used to mopping up protest votes and surfing waves of opinion without ever having his ideas tested in reality. During the election he warned repeatedly against early cuts to public spending or a rise in VAT, only to support both as soon as his posterior had landed in a chair inscribed “Deputy Prime Minister”.
And of course he summarily ditched his flagship promise – to oppose any rise in university tuition fees – making him a hate figure among young political activists whose votes had been won under false pretences. Mr Clegg is addicted to a self-image of a sincere man devoted to the national interest and to fairness. He is clearly unable to adjust to a situation where people distrust his motives and doubt his good faith.”
The British people are actually pretty tolerant when politicians have to go back on election promises, if circumstances have changed so drastically that it is impossible to fulfill those promises. But Nick Clegg could have kept his promise to the students. He could (and should, considering the strength of his support) have told David Cameron that keeping his word to the students was a deal breaker. He could have said he wanted a vote on AV, but he was prepared to give that up in the negotiations, because honour dictated he had to keep his word. But of course, betraying the students meant that only they would suffer, whereas he might profit considerably from a vote on AV. That, to thousands of voters was the tipping point, not the social mobility issue.
We need our politicians to keep their election promises and we need them to show those promises mean something by fighting for them as hard as they possibly can. Nick Clegg’s attempts to win back public sympathy by talking about the tears he has shed and the suffering of his little boy only show that he still does not grasp the enormity of what he did. He crossed a line and once that line is crossed, in the public’s mind, there is no going back.