PMQs Verdict: Nick Clegg is a Tory

4th December, 2013 1:51 pm

Let’s start by being clear about something – this was not PMQs, at least not in any meaningful sense. It’s been a while since we’ve had one of these Clegg/Harman head to head contests, so I’d almost forgotten what they were like.

Now I remember – they ain’t great. Neither has a great deal of opportunity for practice in the particular bear pit that is PMQs, and I’m afraid today it showed. Harman landed a few good lines (“let us worry about our members – after all plenty of them used to be yours”) but was never particularly comfortable or fluent.

Clegg meanwhile, responded to his ring rust by becoming a Tory.

Now I know that like many people in the Labour Party I’ve revelled in calling the Lib Dems “yellow Tories” before. And it started long before 2010. But this was different – this was unreal. Clegg pulled himself up to his full height, and – in front of benches that were less than full –

a no-foolin’ 24 carat solid gold Tory.

The old Lib Dem mantra of “equidistance” has been shot to pieces. Now the Tories were being hugged so close that you worried they might pass out. Even Peter Bone, of all people, felt moved to suggest that his old adversary sounded like a Tory.

If Peter Bone suggests you’re acting like a Tory, he means it as a compliment, and you’re almost certainly acting like a Tory.

His shorthand response to his every Labour question was thus:

“The problem you’ve raised is a serious and awful one. But this government is great and everything is your fault.”

It had the subtlety of an air raid – and when you added in a splash of truly Tory-sequel union bashing, his metamorphosis into a poor man’s Alan B’Stard was complete.

(If anyone ever wondered why Labour will struggle to ever work with Nick Clegg, go on iplayer – the “show” from 12-12.30 today on BBC2 should answer all of your questions…)

The only time his almost comical bluster subsided was when near the end of the session Charles Kennedy rose to speak. We hear so little of him at PMQs so you knew what he had to say was important. It was about Europe. It was seeking to drive a wedge between the two coalition parties.

Clegg stumbled. It was like he’d seen a ghost. And he had – the ghost of what his party used to look like when it was popular…

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  • Graemeyh

    “Nick Clegg is a Tory” – confirms what many is have thought for a long time.

  • Monkey_Bach

    I think any possibility of a Labour/LibDem coalition post-2015 is probably remote.

    Clegg’s haughty, sneering, evasive, and disdainful performance was dire.

    Harman: “Will energy bills be going up?”
    Clegg : “Because of our action energy bills will be £50 a year lower.”

    Oh, boy.

    Eeek.

    • treborc

      So if it had been a Labour government coalition he’d not be doing or saying the same, the poor old thing is getting near to going to the house of Lords, he needs to know which side he will sit on.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      Agree with this monkey.
      Can you please confirm your position in respect of Sarah Teather as (IMHO) in the light of previous views you have articulated about her on here the above remark has the smell of double speak hypocrisy about it.

      • Monkey_Bach

        I don’t really know what Sarah Teather thinks or feels about her part in some of the atrocities that the Coalition have perpetrated but as far as the invidious Bedroom Tax it turns out that you were more correct than I was when I slammed Labour for doing much the same thing as far as private tenants were concerned. The changes Labour made regarding under-occupancy in the private sector were apparently deliberately geared to affect only NEW tenancies and not applied retrospectively to existing tenants expressly to impoverish and bully the very poorest and most helpless of such people, even though they may have occupied accommodation for decades, from their homes like some latter day Peter Rachman.

        I was utterly repelled by Clegg’s dissembling, condescension, and support for the Bedroom Tax despite his own Party having passed a motion condemning that policy at their last Party conference.

        What a truly, truly, truly pathetic excuse for a man.

        Eeek.

  • I’m not sure Clegg is a Tory, at least in the sense of having real conservative convictions. If he was I might have a bit more respect for him. Before the last election he was cautioning against austerity – see here – and yet as soon as it became apparent he’d be working with the Tories this changed overnight. I think he’s a shallow man easily bought and would have blustered his way through a hung Parliament with Labour if it was on the cards. I get a bit peeved that some of the other offenders get off lightly with particular mentions to Vince Cable, Simon Hughes and Tim Farron. As Owen Jones said of Farron on Question Time a couple of weeks ago, “you have the rhetoric of Tony Benn and the voting record of George Osborn”. Seen in that light you could argue Farron is worse.

    • NT86

      Pretty sure a lot of people have seen through Simon Hughes already. An appearance on QT over the summer (Labour’s Liz Kendall was on that one) confirmed that.

  • swatnan

    The only time they listened, in silence, was when Charlie Kennedy spoke. I was half expecting Gordon to chip in after that, and defend his record against the false accusations that Clegg was throwing out; after all it was Gordon’s no fussing prompt action that saved the Worlds Financial systems from complete meltdown, and people throwing themselves off skyscrappers. People have forgotten that. But alas no.
    The Lib Dems may have been ‘popular’ under Charlie, but they weren’t in Govt. And thats the point.

    • JoeDM

      Utterly delusional !!!

  • JoeDM

    Orange book Lib Dems, Cameroonian wets and Blairite New Labour are pretty much interchangeable. They all have the same basic elitist, pro-EU, pro-globalisation, pro-big-State approach and any differences are only at the margin. It’s just tribal loyalties that keep them separate.

    • reformist lickspittle

      Your first point has some truth in it – the rest of your remarks less so.

      The truth is that they are best described as abasing themselves towards the rich and powerful, and feeling loathing and contempt for the poor.

  • BillFrancisOConnor

    Nick Clegg is a Tory ? To purloin a phrase from the great John Cleese ‘Can’t we get you on Mastermind Mark?’- I can hear John Humphrey’s dulcid tones now: ‘Mark Ferguson from Labour List – Specialised subject: The bleeding obvious’.

  • Ian Young

    Perhaps Kennedy has been inspired by Borgen’s Birgitte Nyborg who has been on
    the offensive after seeing her party taking over by opportunistic
    right wing tossers.

  • robertcp

    Clegg is actually very similar to the Liberal Unionists and National Liberals that eventually merged with the Conservatives. It could be argued that the Conservative and Unionist Party stopped being a coalition of conservatives and liberals during the Thatcher-Major era, which is why the Conservatives are no longer able to win an overall majority and need to govern with liberals. This often happened in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    • Mr Arthur Cook

      I’m not sure that I’d wish to assign a “political position” to Mr Clegg. The term “position” has a sense of permanence about it.
      The discussion might more usefully address the minute by minute changes in the direction Mr Clegg is currently swinging his handbag.

      • treborc1

        But he took his party back into power, the history books will show this, and of course the books he will write, and the tasks he will carry out for the Tories or labour who ever needs a coalition at the next election will know hey can country on him.
        He’s a man for all parties.

        • Mr Arthur Cook

          I wouldn’t invite him to my party.

  • Mike Homfray

    I’ve never considered him anything else, and it should make it all too obvious that there will be no deal between Labour and the LibDems after the next election

  • Grytpype

    Nick Clegg is a ‘Tory’? I can think of a few other words to describe him, too.

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