I was going to call this post On Liking Nick Clegg but that sounded rather like I might be one of the women in that hen party that had a selfie mob with Ed Miliband’s battle bus last week, so I changed it.
What follows is a bit of a rant that sails a little too close to gender stereotypes and may even be *whispers* non PC.
Nick Clegg is, I think, a reasonable man. If we may judge a man by his wife (and since we may not in normal discourse since Jane Austen I’m giving it a go on a blog) we might say that Miriam Gonzalez Durantez proves that Nick Clegg is not the paper-thin man he has appeared to be during the coalition years. One minute Nick Clegg was joshing with Cameron in a garden in Westminster, the next he had all but vanished.
Miriam Gonzalez Durantez is a lawyer, has written a secret food blog with her children for years, and founded the Inspiring Women initiative where women donate an hour of their time a year to go into schools and talk to girls about their jobs. Does she sound like the kind of woman that would suffer a fool gladly? Who knows. For all that I have a hunch she would not, it’s perfectly possible that for the past five years when she offered her husband cornflakes or porridge he put Dave Cameron on speakerphone to decide.
The only impact I can recall Nick Clegg having in government is the free school meals for primary children under a certain age. I don’t remember the detail because my children, although primary, were too old. How easily we tend to forget policies that don’t apply to ourselves (see my last post regarding the Conservatives). I remember Clegg at a recent Lib Dem conference declaring himself the ‘brakes’ man to David Cameron’s Jeremy Clarkson – it wasn’t exactly a Maverick and Goose Top Gun moment though. Calling himself the No man in government might have been correct, but it left a negative imprint rather than a positive one. Sadly, the overriding impression I have of Nick Clegg in government is that he allowed university fees to rise to £9000 a year.
This morning Clegg popped up on the Today programme on Radio 4 to appeal to people like me. The Public Service workers he said had ‘done their bit’. Too true matey I thought. Too true.
Over the last five years I have been on the same pay scale, part-time, with one 1% pay rise. The monthly money runs out earlier and earlier every month. The job has become more and more stretched as people are made redundant, but their work becomes absorbed into the roles of those of us who are left, who take it and are grateful not to be made redundant.
Also this week I heard a radio interview with a young woman in London. She said to buy a house in the capital she and her friends needed to save between £80,000 – £100,000 deposit. She said that many colleagues were therefore moving out. I moved out of London in 2006 for that very reason – on one public servant salary. It was not news. Many other people were forced to do the same. Even now a form of social cleansing is going on in inner city London with social housing tenants being forced out of their neighbourhoods because rents are just too high. An hour down the road in Essex, the spill over is now affecting the rental market here. Competition for rented accommodation is fierce, with some estate agents charging eye-watering letting fees because people are desperate.
As much as I appreciate what Nick Clegg said this morning, the fact is that in order to be the brakes man on the Conservatives he has stayed in government whilst the economic divisions and social inequalities have sky-rocketed. A lot of the damage is done and it will not be easily repaired. So Nick, you may appeal to me personally this morning, but I have to judge you on your five year record. It’s a shame, because I think you have some good ministers in your team (Vince Cable for example) and the void left in the political centre is a worry, but in all conscience I think over the last five years, at certain points, you would have done better to have applied the handbrake to the coalition coach and made an EMERGENCY STOP.
Still your wife earns plenty and she seems super, so even if you lose your seat on May 7 you won’t suffer too much.