The Economist on the Gurkhas: "a deserved victory for the Lib Dems and their leader Nick Clegg"

by Stephen Tall on April 30, 2009

My LDV colleague Richard Huzzey has already rounded-up the media’s praise for Nick Clegg’s campaigning role on behalf of the Ghurkas HERE – while Alex Foster highlighted bloggers’ encomia HERE – but it’s worth also noting The Economist’s pseudonymous columnist Bagehot’s only slightly back-handed praise for the party and its leader:

… it was a deserved victory for the Lib Dems and their leader Nick Clegg (as well as for the Gurkhas themselves, of course). Yes, Mr Clegg can seem a bit Rumpelstiltskinean at prime minister’s questions—though it is understandable that he sometimes strains too hard when it is so difficult for him to get on the news bulletins. But he often picks the right subject to go on—something that is important to lots of people but disregarded by the two main parties.

Moreover, in Vince Cable the Lib Dems have the stand-out political performer of the credit crunch. And Mr Clegg has taken the most consistently principled stance over the Commons expenses malaise. All that hasn’t yet translated into a poll bounce however: the Lib Dems jumped 8 points in one recent survey (to 22%), widely dismissed as a rogue, but otherwise they are mostly flatlining.

This evening, however, Mr Clegg gets to be photographed outside Parliament hugging Joanna Lumley in the sunshine. David Cameron muscled in, though he wisely gave credit to Mr Clegg for leading the charge on the Gurkhas. Just as wisely, Mr Clegg was willing for Mr Cameron to get involved: the double act makes him look more statesmanlike and less like an extra-political campaigner. A bit more of the same and Tory supporters in Lib-Lab marginals might start thinking it’s OK to vote for the other presentable ex-public schoolboy with nice hair.