“We are a very windy island,” said Nick Clegg without even the tiniest hint of irony while answering questions from party members at Liberal Democrat conference yesterday.

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The session which saw the Lib Dem leader taking questions from an audience of hundreds was the kind of thing that might turn out to be a PR disaster for some, but not Clegg.

He has a very effective tactic for dealing with these situations, argumentativeness; not the clean, gentlemanly debating-for-honour type, but the playground finger-jabbing type. There was a lot of finger-jabbing, not to mention hand chopping. Mr Miyagi would have been proud.

When someone suggested the Lib Dems’ economic policy should be more left wing, with a big stimulus to prop up demand Clegg went into overdrive.

“What on earth do you call £40bn of guarantees,” he said despairingly. “Never done before,” he stated with three stiff jabs of his index finger that would have poked through sheet metal.

It didn’t help that the member who had started him off referred to the chancellor as “Peter Osborne”, confirming Clegg’s apparent assumption that the audience was not quite as well informed as he was.

Another lowly party member who highlighted comments Clegg once made in a television interview was met with the condesending sarcastic remark, “you seem to have a forensic memory of a particular interview.”

Then when the leader was challenged over whether further cuts would be made to government spending before 2015 he said the coalition would be sticking to spending plans already set out.

“Not a penny more, not a penny less,” he stated proudly, perhaps forgetting the phrase was also the title of a novel by Jeffrey Archer, a man not renowned for honesty.

But all in all Clegg will come away from the session feeling it was successful. There were no news lines, no howlers and no disasters and he managed to successfully subdue some insolent subordinates.

Now he just needs the same argumentativeness to work on the Tories, in particular the chancellor Peter Osborne, and he’ll be flying.

2 comments

  • 'we are a very bendy party' he said, after slipping of the greasy pole into the mud of fortune' This woe is the result of hasty, one week long speed dating! a lesson for any party to take heed of. Don't go into bed with another party unless you know who is cleaning the bedsheets.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, September 24, 2012

  • Clegg decided to lie to the electorate before the election because he thought that the LibDems had no chance of forming a Government and so they could promise anything without having to think about actually having to keep their promises. He then decided to become a Tory for his five minutes in power and go against everything the LibDems had apparently stood for and gained votes from those who believed his lies, including me. Lieing to the electorate is a reason to resign and he should do so now. The LibDems should have allowed the Tories to form a minority government and then voted with or against on individual policies. That is democracy. Lieing to get into power is not. We will not forget.

    Report this comment

    Homes4locals

    Monday, September 24, 2012

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