Is Simon Hughes Britain’s most confused politician?

Following Evan Harris's bizarre claim last week that the only way to get rid of fees was to "vote more Liberal Democrats into power", Simon Hughes yesterday said he "would have liked to have voted against" fees - but didn't, just as he threatened to vote against the VAT rise in the Budget but failed to do so, and as he threatened to do over the government's housing benefit cuts.

Following Evan Harris’s bizarre claim last week that the only way to get rid of fees was to “vote more Liberal Democrats into power”, Simon Hughes yesterday said he “would have liked to have voted against” fees – but didn’t, just as he threatened to vote against the VAT rise in the Budget but failed to do so, and as he threatened to do over the government’s housing benefit cuts.

Indeed, if you google ‘”Simon Hughes” rebellion’ or ‘”Simon Hughes” revolt” you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a man who would stand up for those affected by, and vote against, the coalition’s cuts in all manner of areas: students, those living in social housing, jobseekers, students again – and one article on May 10th in which he threatens a ‘revolt’ against any deal with the Conservatives, describing them as “unreconstructed” and suggesting “no deal would be possible”.

His latest remarks came in The World This Weekend on Radio Four on Sunday, in which he justified his breaking of the tuition fees pledge by saying he “had to honour” the deal with the Tories, not his deal with students. Listen to it:

As Iain Dale asked on Thursday:

“What exactly is the point of Simon Hughes? Is he just a giant conscience on a stick? Discuss.”

Also at the weekend, the latest opinion polls provided more worrying news for Nick Clegg. The “What future for the Liberal Democrats” poll on Conservative Home revealed that only half of those who voted Lib Dem in May (54 per cent) expect to do so again, and three times as many Lib Dem voters (44 per cent) think the party has changed for the worse since the election; just 14 per cent think it has changed for the better.

An Ipsos-Mori poll in the News of the World, meanwhile, revealed that 61 per cent of voters regard Nick Clegg as untrustworthy. As Nick Cohen wrote in yesterday’s Observer, in a column titled “The young will have their revenge, Mr Clegg”:

“The final, despairing line from the Westminster village last week was that ‘protests don’t change politics’. It’s as untrue as the notion that the Liberal Democrats are a ‘serious’ party.

“The students may have not stopped fees rising but they have changed politics. They have destroyed Nick Clegg’s reputation so thoroughly, I cannot see how he can recover.”

Update 3:15

There have been a number of amusing tweets in relation to Simon Conf-Hughes-ed’s current predicament:

@JoshFG: What’s the difference between @LibDemSimon and a wesal http://is.gd/iFNRt listening to this it’s hard to tell.

@SharonAvraham: Why didn’t Simon Hughes vote against? Because he’s got no backbone maybe?

@laurelrusswurm: who do politicians actually serve?

@FrankSpring: We can at least thank Simon Hughes for disabusing us of the notion that to govern is to choose.

@DuncanStott: Sheesh. That clip just about sums up how effective Lib Dem communications have been over Uni funding.

@wdjstraw: Not good enough. Is he a man of principle or a fig leaf for Cameron?

@MusingJules: That man could not lie straight in bed!

@Colchester1648: because he’s a coward, and has now ended any chance he ever had of leading the party. He’ll be gone soon.

@Scarletstand: because he’s a wet wuss who wouldn’t recognise a principle if is slapped him in the face with a soggy fish.

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