“I agree with Nick.”
Gordon Brown/David Cameron, 2010
I’d hate to be Nick Clegg right now. If I’m honest, I’d hate be Nick Clegg at all. There’s something sly and disingenuous about the man: a straight faced dishonesty; an expression of a man who left his spine in his other jacket; and an air of toadying, obedient, public-school faggotry*. Since the Liberal Democrat leader joined in a coalition government with the ideological enemies of the party, he has become a man despised by both left and right, and especially by those, like me, who voted for him in good faith. In short, Nick Clegg is a streak of piss as wide and yellow as his tie, which we all know he is only wearing because his blue one is in the wash.
But lo, the turncoat turned his coat again and stood up for something he believed in. When David Cameron used his veto on the new EU treaty and potentially sold British businesses down the Swanee – or, in this case, the Rhine – Nick Clegg stood up and spoke out against the Prime Minister’s decision. He was like a man who found his balls down the back of the sofa, eighteen months after losing them.
Unfortunately, when David Cameron stood up in Parliament and defended his questionable actions to MPs on both sides of the house, Nick Clegg – his deputy – was not present. It was like there was something wrong with the House of Commons lighting, and the Prime Minister’s shadow was missing. After going public on his disagreement with his boss, Nick Clegg’s absence was suspicious and questionable. With calls from the benches of ‘where’s Clegg,’ the given reason was that he ‘would have been a distraction.’ If anything, staying away has drawn more attention to him. Whether he was playing truant or was asked to stay away, Nick Clegg’s actions are not those of a leader.
Despite choreographed radio and television appearances, the two parties that make policy are clearly divided on this issue more than any other that has raised its head since they entered into their uncomfortable accord. The cracks have already begun to show, but yesterday might be a sign that soon the coalition may be as shredded and tattered as Nick Clegg’s reputation.
*For American readers, in British slang a ‘fag’ does not mean a homosexual. The more common meaning is as a term for a cigarette, as in I’m bumming for a fag (I’m desperate for a cigarette.) In this case, it is a more obscure term endemic to English public schools, and means a kind of willing slave – usually a young school boy who does the bidding of an older boy (who are themselves often bumming for a fag.)