Not a lot, if this cartoon from the Telegraph is worth anything:
Of course, Torygraph reporters are probably aware that Nick Clegg secretly agreed to go into coalition with the Conservatives back in March 2010 – two months before the last general election (the so-called negotiations after the poll resulted in a hung Parliament were a sham) – and it was at this time, not in May, that the Liberal Democrat promise to abolish further education tuition fees was dropped.
Clegg went on to run a relatively successful campaign (as far as these things go for the Lib Dems) on the back of that promise – a promise he had already broken.
Now he’s accusing his Conservative Coalition partners of following a “serve the rich, smash the poor” agenda since they got into office. He was a willing part of that agenda.
In The Guardian on Saturday, his excuse was that the Tories had “mutated almost out of recognition” since the Coalition agreement was signed. This is not true. The Tories we have seen since then are the Tories we recognise. David Cameron’s “compassionate Conservatism” was the lie.
“We went in with partners who told us they were green, but they are not. They told me they weren’t going to bang on about Europe, but it’s all they bang on about. They said they believed in civil liberties and they want to trash them,” said Clegg.
“I can understand why they have done it. They are in a complete blind panic about UKIP, but I like to think we have not raced across the political spectrum like that.”
Wrong again. The Tories are in a panic about UKIP (see yesterday’s article on the Hunting Act) but that has little to do with the policy areas Clegg was highlighting. Tories always want to trash civil liberties; they always trash the environment – one of their first planned acts was to sell off all the common land in the UK; and they always, always “bang on” about Europe. Even if they weren’t so bitterly divided about it, they would use it as a distraction technique to dupe voters.
Now the Tories have ‘scooped’ the Lib Dems by claiming they will increase the tax-free personal allowance for low earners to £12,500 per year, something Clegg was planning to announce as one of his own party’s policies – and something to which UKIP beat them both.
Labour has ‘scooped’ the Lib Dems on the NHS, with a pledge to increase funding by £2.5 billion per year, knocking Clegg’s £1 billion promise into the proverbial cocked hat. Labour is also promising to introduce a ‘Mansion Tax’, stealing another well-known Clegg aspiration (and did you see how the Tories responded to that? Hypocritical, when one considers their rabid support of their own Bedroom Tax).
One has to wonder what he has left to say.
“Sorry” might be a good start.
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