The Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton had an air of denial about it. On the platform, there was speech after speech from government ministers praising their supposed achievements in government and telling their members how well they were doing and how they were “holding the Tories to account”. But this is a party in decline. This is a party that cannot see the writing on the wall because its leadership is so totally blinded by the sudden rush of power that it can’t see the skerries and reefs ahead of it. What’s worse for the Lib Dems is that Captain Clegg, drunk on power and at the helm, is steering his ship of fools into the rocks and there’s no sign of a mutiny. Indeed, no one in the party wants to take on the role of Fletcher Christian to Clegg’s William Bligh. Even though Twinkletoes Cable is seen as a potential successor, he toes the line, popping up every now and again with a soundbite to rile his Tory partners. Then, as soon as he’s out of his box, he’s back in it again.
The Lib Dems front bench reads like a list of crooks and nobodies. Next to the liar and embezzler, David Laws, Danny Alexander is probably one of the worst. Looking like a rabbit caught in a headlight’s beam, the timorous Alexander can’t make a speech for toffee and resembles a boy whose mother has just told him off for playing with himself in public. Then there’s Home Office Minister, Jeremy Browne with his über-posh accent. Like the rest of them, whenever he is asked a specific question relating to his brief, he falls back on “the last Labour government” as his get-out clause. But it’s much worse than that: he never has any answers, is desperately lacking a clue and comes across as unspeakably dim.
The recently-promoted Jo Swinson is another one of those Lib Dems who’s full of clichés, soundbites and platitudes. This is from the BBC News website,
Drawing on her own experience of work in a fast-food restaurant and with an “enforced perma-smile” at the Disney Store, Ms Swinson said she knew she was at her “most productive, creative and effective when I have relished going to work”.
Please, show me someone who “relishes” going to a job that they hate; a job that offers no prospects and doesn’t pay enough to cover one’s outgoings and I’ll show you a caring Conservative.
So what about Nick Clegg, the captain of this rotting hulk of a vessel? Well, last week he claimed to have apologised for his party’s position on tuition fees (among other things) but no one believed him and if his conference speech was anything to go by, we can safely say that anything that comes out of his mouth is going to be insincere. The fact that his ‘apology’ was given the autotune remix treatment and entered the charts says more about the Lib Dems public relations department than it does the public’s judgement of taste.
Finally, this video with Steve Bell at the Lib Dem conference sums it up beautifully. Bell notes that Clegg’s hair is in “bad condition”. So is his party.