Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Prepare for Gorvernment


Some people say you have to work very hard not to like Nick Clegg - but, here goes...

We begin with an ending as the Lib Dem leader wound up his party's annual conference in Glasgow with a speech in which he would have kissed himself if he could. But, before we get there we should remember it is but three short years since the nation woke up and discovered it had mysteriously ticked the box marked coalition in the last general election.

Since then, the many millions who voted Labour and Conservative have been constantly reminded that they secretly wanted Nick and his pals instead. And Nick was up Glasgow today to remind us how right we had been and how we should do the same again next time - although how remains the mystery.

To be grudgingly fair, it may not be totally his fault that he comes across as the head boy you hated at school, but he clearly had extra injections of smugness with his free school milk. And it was pouring through his pores earlier today as he took us back to those heady days when he first walked in the Rose Garden with his new partner Dave.

Nick, of course, had made his way to being a man of the people via St Paul's school, Cambridge, the College of Europe and a brief stint as an MEP. On his way, he picked up five european languages but luckily restricted himself to one as he reminded those off work and not watching Escape to the Country of his many gifts.

Up front, hands poised for the unplanned applause, sat the main beneficiaries of the split vote in May 2010. Danny Alexander, spirited out of school to become Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Energy Secretary Ed Davey, the man behind the 5p plastic bag,
and even the gargoyle that was once Vince Cable.

In times past, Vince was touted as the man most likely to nobble Nick, but that discounts the fact that it's the Vince-ites who have quit the party in droves since Nick slipped under the duvet with Dave. 

With party membership down a third, support in the country less than that of UKIP and an overdraft of £500,000 excuses may have been expected. But, all that money spent on self-confidence did not go to waste as Nick drew pictures for a semi-detached party faithful of Lib Dem power.

Having spent longer in the wilderness than several dozen saints, those delegates still paying their dues seemed less than suitably grateful for the success of their leaders. To get them in the mood, party planners had played out a short - obviously -  tape of the Lib Dems greatest hits.

Paddy Ashdown segued into Charles Kennedy who mixed into Ming (He's actually called Menzies) Campbell before planners judged they were frightened enough for Nick to walk on.
In the 50 minutes that followed he told why Tories and Labour had lost their way, why each was extreme and why he and the Lib Dems weren't.

Delegates hoping for a call to arms were in for a bit of a disappointment.

Thirty years after David Steel shot himself in the mouth by telling delegates to "prepare for Government," Nick's message was prepare for more coalition. As for who they would be ready to sleep with well the Lib Dem leader decided to tease.

"I don't look at Ed Miliband and David Cameron and ask myself who I'd be the most comfortable with," he told delegates who clearly were thinking exactly that.

The chauffeur-driven nodded furiously and happily when he said they were not done with power yet.

"We are a party of Government," he said, to the obvious embarrassment of those still not convinced.

And as suddenly as it began, it finished and he fled the stage into the arms of his wife, the beautifully named Miriam Gonzales-Durantez - which she apparently prefers to Mrs Clegg.
Sixty seconds later they were gone, ushered out by the men with earpieces, just in case you forget just how important you are.