Bagehot praises Nick’s Afghan policy

by Stephen Tall on September 9, 2009

Bagehot, the pseudonym of The Economist’s British politics columnist/blogger, has written a post sticking up for Nick Clegg following criticism aimed at him from both left (in the shape of The Observer’s Andrew Rawnsley) and right (James Forsyth in The Spectator):

Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has been unfairly treated for saying in public what a large number of other people are confiding in private. … the doubts Mr Clegg has expressed about the strategy, resources and prospects of the Afghan campaign are shared by many others. Military types continue to think the war is “winnable”, though at the same time to doubt whether there will ever be enough reliable Afghan soldiers and police to actually do the winning. It would be a pretty poor democracy in which no senior politician was willing to air these views, and to ask the tough questions that need to be asked by someone–even if the someone doesn’t pretend to know all the answers.

Meanwhile, Lib Dem shadow foreign secretary Ed Davey has voiced his view that there is a clear need for a second round in the Afghan elections after numerous claims of irregularities in last week’s first set:

It is clear that the result in the Afghan elections cannot be trusted. It is obvious that we now need to see a second round to ensure the Afghan Government has the legitimacy it needs.

And Ed went on to make some very pointed comments directed at David Cameron and William Hague’s apparently accidental ‘hot mike’ incident, in which a BBC camera crew picked up a supposedly private conversation between the Tory leader and his shadow foreign secretary:

Given that one of the major criticisms of David Cameron is the suggestion that he’s a fake, pushing foreign policy positions through staged leaks does not do this serious issue justice. Sadly, this conversation looks less like the West Wing and more like The Office.”

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