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.
Mainly because, after a bit, quite a bit, I’ve had to adopt a grit one’s teeth and bear it approach to the government. The alternative was madness, or imprisonment. I’ve laid awake in bed thinking about how to rid the country of the turbulent Gove et al and got nowhere – well nowhere that doesn’t involve crime and that would be wrong – so I retreated, like so many, into apathy. I’m not proud of it, but there comes a time when banging your head on a brick wall just hurts your head. Or so I am told. I am still a bit prone to head banging…
So, here we go.
Has Nick Clegg gone mad?
Has someone attacked him with a giant shiny silver syringe full of shite-spouting serum?
Has he dyed his hair an even darker shade of brunette?
Has his wife finally decided to come out to play the First Lady in waiting game?
Is Vince Cable going to stand for it?
Yesterday’s outrageous conference performance from the leader of the Lib Dems was like a Dallas/Dynasty/Dr No mash-up with slightly less glitz, but a very healthily inflated sense of self-worth. I would go so far as to say that, yesterday, Nick Clegg was tumescent.
This is not a good thing. The Lib Dems are still the Yellow Party and Nicky Boy ain’t fooling no-one. I hope.
But you never know.
Warning: today’s post seems a bit catty but no cats were harmed in its production.
I have listened to what seems like Lib Dem after Lib Dem come on the radio since Friday, each producing some woolly burble about rumours and careers and informal complaints and emails and not sure who knew what or said what to who, but goodness bless my liberal soul, aren’t we all just absolutely on the rack over this whole Lord Rennard thing as it’s so not in keeping with our values.
Well excuse me, but, what? I haven’t ever voted for one of this party’s candidates and on the evidence of the last few days I am not likely to (and that’s leaving aside their general Judas-like record in the so-called coalition government (not so as you’d notice, Nick)) because they are all just infuriating wafflemeisters who have turned a blind eye. At least the ones on the media are (that’s my minor attempt at some balance in an otherwise biased rant).
Oh yes, they bleat on and on and on about doing the right thing, but when it comes to actually doing something about anything it seems they close their eyes, their ears and their mouths and hope that someone, somewhere with a bleeding Lib Dem heart and a dustpan and brush will come along quietly and sweep up the unsightly mess and pop it in a suitable waste disposal facility. Then the Lib Dems can get back to doing what they appear to do best: navel-gazing interspersed with hand-wringing.
And now I am going to say something that pains me because the person in question was one of Lord Rennard’s ‘victims’ and of course sexual harassment in the work place is a serious issue and should be treated as such. Unfortunately, this woman said she had one eye on Lord Rennard and one on her career and the last thing ‘any of them wanted’ was all this media fuss. Oh really. Well, if you do the right thing and invoke procedures against someone like that it’s bound to get in the media. Kind of goes with the territory, perhaps, sadly.
From what the woman said this lunchtime in a news interview, Lord Rennard came onto her at a conference dinner and she told him where to go, except she couldn’t quite tell him that exactly, because she was a Lib Dem with her career on her mind, so instead she extricated herself from an awkward situation as liberally-mindedly as she could manage and then went to her hotel room. She said at that point, she was so distressed, all she wanted was ‘her daddy’. Whereupon, she called her father, who calmed her down so she could fall asleep somewhere in the same conference hotel as the predatory Lord Rennard and then face him in a training session the following day.
Now, Lord Rennard obviously has questions to answer, but when any sleazeball tries it on with a grown woman, of all the things the grown woman might do or say about the infringement of her civil liberties, calling daddy is not top of my list. Maybe that’s just me, but it just doesn’t seem like the most pragmatic response. Furthermore, sharing this information made her seem overly-emotional and as many a woman with ‘a career’ will tell you, emotional incontinence doesn’t play well on the field of battle. As she felt compelled to share this information with the media and to speak the actual words, that she wanted her daddy on national radio, on the World at One, on BBC Radio 4, I now only have one thing I can say to her. I would have liked that one thing to be something along the lines of, ‘Sorry to hear about this.’ Unfortunately, I have had it up to here with the Lib Dems so the one thing left to say is:
Get A Grip.
In fact, that goes for all you Lib Dems out there. Get a bloody grip and stop whining around on the national media because if you were in trouble before last Friday you are rapidly turning into utter no-hopers in the political stakes now.
I feel mean writing this post. I feel I want to support the women who have allegedly been infringed by Lord Rennard. The trouble is that the Lib Dems are so wishy-washy in nearly every respect I end up getting so frustrated that I froth. That also is my excuse for the ill-considered use of punctuation. Apologies, but better in than out.
Is it just my own, erroneous, impression of the UK at the moment, or are we living in strange times that just don’t stack up if you apply even a smidge of critical engagement with the issues of the day?
This morning the BBC Radio 4 programme kept banging on in the news items about a speech Nick Clegg was going to make later in the day. Apparently, he was going to say something about the lack of social mobility in this country, and it needing to be addressed. When I looked for the speech after it had actually happened, it was no longer news. Extraordinary, what someone plans to say is news, until they say it, and then it is not.
There was also an interview about energy security and the need for investment in more power stations and the like. They always mention renewables at this time, but we know they are really talking about more of the same industrial scale generation or importation. If they weren’t, why would they care that China is now using more and more of the world’s gas… Now, despite the utility companies already having a licence to print money, there is a move to charge customers about another £100 a year as a hidden subsidy, so they can afford to build more power stations and charge us more of our own money that we can barely spare in the future.
I am not a fucking economic unit – I am a person. And, rather than cough up more money to British Gas or Npower or wherever, I would really rather generate my own, albeit variable supply of electricity, from a wind turbine on my roof, or whatever. But of course, the man won’t let me, because Planning says, ‘No’. And do you know what, Mr Expert on the radio? If my electricity runs out from time to time – I won’t care; in fact, it will be a relief. And do you know why? Because when the lights go out, I can be just me, the way I am meant to be and not some performing hamster running on the wheel of capitalist consumption.
And as I spent some time trying to get my head round the ludicrous nature of reporting things that haven’t happened yet, and us paying utility companies to build factories so they can sell us more crack, I mean energy, the IMF pops up with a forked tongue and throws me into complete cognitive dissonance.
The IMF say, on the one hand, that the UK government’s austerity measures are fine and dandy, and then on the other hand, and in the next breath, they say that the Bank of England must print more money for quantitative easing, consider cutting the interest rate even further (at 0.5% how low can you go before the shyster high street banks pass on the savings to customers, even as they increase mortgage interest rates this month), and the government should think about a lower VAT rate to help stimulate growth.
Nothing adds up, the world has gone completely cuckoo, and, yes mother, this is a rant.
It’s perfectly apparent now that the coalition have no idea whatsoever about anything very much at all.
I managed to keep schtum last week when silly old bear Nick Clegg said just because the government did not publish a plan for growth did not mean they did not have a plan for same. Well, it’s becoming evident that, apart from the “long, hard road” of cuts, there’s no map at all. And if there is one then someone is holding it upside down.
If you think I might be being a bit mean, think about this. One of the ‘free’ schools the goverment has approved in Leicester (and that’s a new additional state school run with government money by parents and teachers) is costing £15 million upfront in capital costs. That’s before they’ve even got a kid on the register. In the meantime the schools’ capital budget was slashed. With plans like that who needs to hear any more?
David Cameron has gone on his hols (the blog wonders if he will be so silly as to be snapped swimming in the crystal sea with his family as was his senior global US partner in the dailies) leaving his Chief Mugwump Nick in charge of the sweet shop.
Cos times is ‘ard guvnor we ain’t got much by way of sweetness in our jars, but I’m ‘oping that Mr Mugwump sees fit as to order an ‘aporth of gobstoppers in time for Knavish Dave’s homecoming.
Then there’d be none of this wrangling over the big, open offer.
Don’t do it Nave Dick (it’s a silent and invisible K).
They are quite right of course those Lurpak guys, but I can just give a shout out for a pizza woodsmoked on a campfire. Even better than a lemon remingue – where’s the butter in that?