The former Lib Dem leader claims he's not a failure: 'History will smile on the coalition'.
The world’s smallest violin is playing for Nick Clegg today, who has complained in his latest iNews column that nobody seemed to think he deserved his Knighthood.
The absurdity of knighting one of the least successful politicians ever united both the left and the right when it was announced in December that Clegg would be included in the New Year Honours List.
Lest we forget, this is the man who – as Nate Higgins wrote for Left Foot Forward at the time – managed to lose 87% of his party’s seats in his 8-year term as party leader; who entered a coalition with a party his base found abhorrent; who jettisoned his party’s most popular policies in order to achieve electoral reform, and instead ended up all but killing the cause for almost half a decade.
But Clegg has hit back. In a brazen opinion piece he claims that ‘history will smile on the coalition’.
Of all the arguments deployed against his Knighthood, he takes particular umbrage with criticism from the ‘Corbynite Left’ — except by ‘Corbynite Left’ he appears to mean everyone who is critical of the Coalition’s austerity policies. He is deluded if he thinks this does not extend further than ‘Corbynites’.
Clegg is widely blamed for the harm David Cameron’s coalition government did because he made it possible. If the Lib Dems had refused to enter into a coalition with the Tories it’s likely we would have had another vote instead. In entering into the coalition, he abandoned the policies that made many people vote for his party — splitting the left vote, in the first place — like scrapping tuition fees.
He then spent five years in the Tories’ austerity bed insisting that cutting public services was in the national interest. It didn’t work — as many people predicted — and millions of people suffered as a consequence.
Now, in his column, he has claimed that the coalition cut the deficit more slowly than Labour would have done, as if this was by design rather than the result of poor policy.
Sorry Clegg, but I think I’ll reserve our sympathy for the victims of coalition policies: all the people still reliant on food banks, the young people leaving university with thousands of pounds more debt or deterred from going at all, the NHS doctors and nurses stretched to the limit and the patients who are not able to access adequate healthcare.
I could go on, but safe to say Clegg deserves your sympathy as little as he deserved his Knighthood. It’s not unfair that he is being criticised, it’s unfair that he propped up a government that damaged the country and damaged lives, yet somehow he still gets to be called Sir and to complain about not being appreciated in a national newspaper column — where he is now shamelessly trying to rewrite history.
Charlotte England is a freelance journalist and writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.