Useful Notes: Nick Clegg

What am I like?

Former leader of the Liberal Democrats and former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as part of a coalition deal with the Conservative Party.

Nick Clegg was the man who led the Liberal Democratic Party to unimagined heights in 2010... and to unprecedented lows in 2015.

He was propelled into the limelight of British politics leading up to the 2010 General Election thanks to a strong performance in the three prime ministerial debates, becoming something of an Ensemble Darkhorse thanks to his previous relative obscurity. Although the Liberal Democrats failed to break through as many predicted - they actually lost 6 seats in the election despite a 1% increase in their share of the popular vote overall - the resulting hung parliament made Nick Clegg something of a kingmaker. In a coalition with the Tories, the two parties made up a majority of seats - however neither Labour nor the Lib Dems secured enough seats for a Lib/Lab coalition that held a majority without involving the nationalist and Northern Irish parties.

Understandably, he has lost a lot of credibility among British leftists following the formation of the Conservatives-Liberal coalition, especially considering one of his campaign's "marketing tools" was encouraging people to vote Liberal to keep the Tories out. This was mainly because, although British politics has moved on to the point whereby on some issues (notably civil liberties) Labour were more to the right than the Tories and so they are not necessarily closer in principle to the Lib Dems, a lot of Lib Dem seats have Tories as the principal opposition, especially in the The West Country, where Labour's support is practically non-existent. And with Gordon Brown deemed impossible to support as Prime Minister, the Labour party had no clear leader or strategy for negotiations, as the negotiating team later admitted. Clegg had also stressed beforehand that the Lib Dems would be obligated to 'talk first' with whichever party had won the most seats as they had the most right to form a government; many grassroots Lib Dems were angry this led to the talks being followed through with a deal. The general perception, fair or not, that the Lib Dems are acting largely as lapdogs for the Conservatives while in government has not particularly helped this impression, and the Conservatives appear to have successfully transferred the fallout for some of their less-popular policies onto Old Nick and the Lib Dems since taking office; correspondingly, Clegg's popularity and that of his party has sunk to new lows since then.

On May 7th 2015, the Liberal Democrats fell to shocking lows, winning only eight seats in parliament. On May 8th, Clegg simultaneously resigned as party leader, Deputy Prime Minister and Lord President of the Council.

The popularity of Clegg following the first debate is often referred to by the media as 'Cleggmania'. Clegg is also MP for Sheffield Hallam, and is not to be confused with the other Mr. N. Clegg from Yorkshire (yes, jokes have been made).


Fictional Depictions of Nick Clegg:

  • Ruthlessly mocked on the satirical programme Russell Howard's Good News. The fact that the show's second series coincided with the live debates helped.
    • After Clegg's popularity soared as a result of the debates, Howard was good enough to eat humble pie on air.
    • "They call me Nick Clegg! Nick Clegg! I got a third leg! Third leg!"
    • Although after the Tuition Fees issue (Hey young people! You should get more engaged with politics! By the way, don't trust anything we say), Russell Howard portrayed his soul as peaceful woodlands before, and burning wastelands after.
  • Private Eye portrayed various people as viewing Clegg as a Messiah-like figure after his success in the debates.
    • After the formation of the coalition, Clegg is presented as the Deputy Head of the New Coalition Academy, the Eye's school-themed politics parody.

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