Five Days in May: parties, coalitions and One Nation

I’ve just got round to reading Andrew Adonis’ account of the negotiations between Labour and Liberal Democrats following the inconclusive 2010 General Election result.  Written at the time, the account of the negotiations is far from dispassionate; it is a vivid read, although at times a curiously impersonal one.  The clear theme of Adonis’ account […]

Nothing strange about the death of English liberalism

Reading Nick Clegg’s New Year message was a sad and sobering affair (leaving aside any impatience at the growing habit of politicians great and small issuing such messages).  It read as really little more than excuse-mongering and post-hoc rationalisation in defence of policies that appear to rub against the natural grain of the Liberal tradition; […]

In praise of universal benefits

Among Nick Clegg’s various pronouncements yesterday was his repeated claim that benefits for the elderly should not be universal, and should not be available to the better-off.  It’s not  a new theme, of course – Clegg was making the same arguments at this year’s Liberal Democrat conference, with Vince Cable weighing in to claim, in […]

Nick Clegg and fantasy politics

Nick Clegg made a wide-ranging speech today to mark his five years as Liberal Democrat leader. It was very much a justification for his position in coalition and I don’t want (on this occasion) to examine his record on the NHS, on tuition fees or on removing universal benefits from the elderly – important though […]

The epic stupidity of Nick Clegg’s house deposit plan

As the Liberal Democrat conference gets under way in Brighton, Nick Clegg used an interview on the BBC to announce a plan to allow parents to borrow against their pension funds to allow their children to get the deposit needed to get them on to the housing ladder.  Clegg claimed that this was the politics […]

Clegg’s wealth tax and gesture politics

It must be party conference season.  Nick Clegg making statements about an emergency wealth tax, a rather desperate attempt to give the annual festival of Stockholm Syndrome that calls itself the Liberal Democrat Party Conference something to differentiate themselves from the Tory party their Parliamentarians have happily maintained in office. A wealth tax sounds superficially […]

Twilight of the idolaters

It seems curiously fitting that, on the same day that Nick Clegg vents his frustration at aspects of the coalition, the news should also carry the story of a man who incinerated his own underpants in a microwave.  Marx famously wrote that history repeated itself first as tragedy, then as farce; but the history of […]