April 21, 2010

UK: Is Nick Clegg anti-American and anti-Israel?

A new survey by ICM Research for the left-wing Guardian, released Monday, put Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats at 30%, just three points behind the Tories (30%) and ahead of Labour back on 28%.

Asked if he truly believed he could become Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said he was “acutely aware” of the volatility of the polls but implied anything was possible: “I want to be the next Prime Minister,” he said. “There is a fluidity in this election we haven’t seen for perhaps a generation,” he added.

I can’t predict what’s going to happen. All I know is that the old anchors, the old patterns and the old established routines of elections are breaking down, because for years the old allegiances which propped up the old parties are breaking down.

It may actually be true, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing in and of itself, but perhaps it also depends on what we mean by “the old patterns” and “the old allegiances.” Does Mr Clegg think, to make a couple of examples, that the ‘special relationship’ between the US and the UK, and the traditional pro-Israel attitude on the part of British governments, are among those old patterns/allegiances which are breaking down? Well, here and here is what Nile Gardiner has to say in this regard in his Telegraph blog. And here is what he thinks about Nick Clegg’s attitude towards the NATO alliance.


  1. Many of the relatively young, disillusioned by 'old patterns' that in their eyes are no longer effective, the 'young' (even up to 50 years old) who have perhaps been spoilt by too many peaceful years of undisturbed democracy (and there are many such examples in Europe, and all over the world) would be attracted by Nick Clegg. He is young, he's probably a good orator, but what he would be advocating has been advocated before, when there were similar opportunities for such middle of the road, therefore fundamentally noncommittal, opportunists.

    Considering what's at stake in the world today, such superficial attraction hides an emptiness blown up with ephemeral illusions. To compare his attraction to that of Winston Churchill would make the latter turn over in his grave. If Churchill were alive today, with his experience and appreciation of the value/price of democracy, and his knowledge of the sort of people and organisations that spell 'Danger', he would surely reduce Clegg to nothing.

  2. Once Sen Obama was elected President, I ceased to believe anything was impossible. So Nick Clegg could be UK PM on May 6. But, given the UK voting system, that seems very unlikely.

    More possible, he ends up "kingmaker" between relatively evenly divided Labour and Tories. Sort of what Italy almost always faces. But that is "uncommon" in Britain's House of Commons.

    But Britain cannot afford another five years of this incarnation of exhausted Labour. And a Conservative government burdened with Lib Dems in some posts will be almost as bad. So, in the end, I suspect the Conservatives on Election Day are going to poll better than it currently seems they will.

    One reason for that is that Labour is more widely despised than in 2005 or 2001. And given all Mr Clegg's unexpected recent media adulation, he is going to have to begin to answer actual questions substantively at some point. Indeed, the "boyish charm" appears already to be getting old.

    Overall, the Lib Dems as a party are not so much too "left" or too "right". They are, more to the point, simply, "weird" - unsure what they really stand for. (Other than being anti-Israel and at best lukewarm about the U.S.) The wider British public will figure that out before the election.