Saturday, February 23, 2008

Guardian's glowing review of Clegg - to be savoured

The Guardian's top leading article today gives Nick Clegg a very good "mid-term" report. It's not often they give such a glowing review to anything to do with Liberal Democrats, so it should be savoured !

The article says Nick Clegg has "restored a quiet equilibrium to his party". It says he has not faltered in the crucial first few weeks of the leadership, has avoided attempting to arrive "in a starburst of excitement" and "is making gentle progress".

He has avoided the sort of ostentatious contempt towards Gordon Brown that has left Conservatives sounding shrill. He has not tried to break into the news through stunts - attempting instead to make his name through hard grind, often away from London, until luck, a chance issue or an election push him to prominence.

...Read the two big speeches he has given so far, on public services and the economy, for a sharper flavour of his thinking. They establish an inherently liberal intellectual framework - sceptical of state structures and authority. This is undoubtedly alien to much social democrat thinking: shocking to many Labour supporters and to parts of his own party, too. But it is not Tory. He wants to return to his party's liberal roots.

...His argument is that the state has three big tasks: to ensure money is spent fairly, to ensure access to services is equal and to guarantee core standards and entitlements. Beyond this, provision should lie elsewhere - and be managed locally.

The article concludes that Nick Clegg can learn from Vince Cable in bringing a "touch of the pepper and vinegar" to his approach to getting across his message.

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