CommentIsLinked@LDV… James Graham: Nick Clegg – where have you been?

by Stephen Tall on August 30, 2009

Over at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free blog, Lib Dem blogger James Graham has a pop at the Lib Dem leader for squandering the political opportunity presented by a quiet August. Here’s an excerpt:

Where was Nick Clegg when #welovetheNHS kicked off? He did, in fairness, manage to fire off a single tweet – 24 hours late – but the party made no attempt to use this as an opportunity to carve out its own distinctive agenda on health. Four days after his return to Libya, Clegg did manage to squeeze out a press release about Abdelbaset al-Megrahi but while criticising Gordon Brown for not making his own position clear declined to do likewise. Considering Clegg was calling for the summer recess to be cancelled just a couple of months ago, this does smack somewhat of dropping the ball. …

… the silly season is a big opportunity for parties to set the political agenda in a period largely free of the daily grind of parliament. Our rivals certainly haven’t been blind to this fact, despite their own leaders going on holiday too. Indeed they have argued each other into a stalemate, with the Tories having a bad month but Labour failing to take advantage due to the fact that the public have already written them off. This was an open goal for the Lib Dems to seize the initiative in the run-up to the conference season. All it would have taken was a little planning and proactivity.

You can read James’s article in full here.

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I was disappointed to read the cautious response to Lord Turner’s bold idea of introducing a Tobin tax. Lord Turner himself has admitted that he never had in mind implementing the policy only in the UK, which appeared to be the main argument against introducing it.
We should be the party advocating international cooperation to introduce it. Of course if we do not get that agreement, we cannot do it, but we should certainly try.
The UK in particular has paid a very high price for the market failures of the City and we should take the lead in ensuring it does not happen again.

by Geoffrey Payne on August 30, 2009 at 8:48 pm. Reply #

“Considering Clegg was calling for the summer recess to be cancelled just a couple of months ago, this does smack somewhat of dropping the ball.”

But of course, that business about cancelling the Summer recess was just another little gimmick designed to grab a bit of attention. Would it really have been better if Clegg had forgone his holiday, and had instead come out with a vacuous soundbite every two or three days?

by Herbert Brown on August 30, 2009 at 11:27 pm. Reply #

I thought it was a very good article by James.

by Martin Kinsella on August 31, 2009 at 7:10 am. Reply #

Herbert Brown – yes, it would. Though I doubt it would have been vacuous.

by KL on August 31, 2009 at 12:24 pm. Reply #

Geoffrey Payne is right.

Lord Turner is a City grandee. It is not usual for City grandees to put forward bold, difficult ideas, and risk being criticised for naivety and unworldliness, just because there are shortcomings in the way the City is working. Nevertheless, Lord Turner has decided to take the risk of advocating a bold, difficult idea. He deserves praise and support for putting justice ahead of caution, and for putting the public interest ahead of the bankers’ interest.

We could naturally have expected bankers, financiers, and the political Right to pooh-pooh Lord Turner’s proposals. But why on earth should a Lib Dem leader be joining the critics?

by David Allen on August 31, 2009 at 10:26 pm. Reply #

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