One week on from his surprise win in the first televised debate between the leaders of the three main parties the knives have come out for Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg; and with a vengeance too.
As party colleague Chris Huhne put it every right wing newspaper, meaning most of the British press, ‘has a splash attacking Nick- I wonder why.’
The splashes, or ‘smears’, as his supporters have described them, have mostly concerned claims made in the Daily Telegraph that Clegg received up to £250 per month of donations into his own account from three businessmen during 2006 and the unearthing by the Daily Mail of comments he made about Britain’s relationship with Europe in 2002, which prompted it to run the headline ‘Nick Clegg in Nazi slur on Britain’ yesterday.
As Nick Clegg wryly commented to the BBC this week: ‘I must be the first politician to go from Churchill to being a Nazi in the space of a week,’ referring to the comparison made after his triumph in last weeks debate between a man most people thought of as a political also ran and the nation’s iconic wartime leader.
On the subject of claims that he had serious questions to answer about his expenses Clegg said ‘I have done nothing wrong. In the next few days I will publish figures to prove it.’
The Liberal Democrats have also come under a more general attack for everything from their attitude towards Trident, a laudable endorsement of scrapping a costly nuclear deterrent that hasn’t deterred anyone since the Berlin Wall came down and their less than popular stance in immigration; much of which has taken the shine of the nations’ newly installed political poster boy.
To a large extent this is only the close examination of policy that any party hoping to enter the political mainstream should expect, but there is also an added element of vindictiveness that says as much about the fears of the political establishment as it does about the shortcomings of a party seen until recently as little more than a repository for protest votes.
As Chris Huhne told the BBC this week: ‘British politics needs a fundamental rethink and a real change and the Conservative Party doesn’t offer that and never did,’ the question lurking in the background being do the Lib Dems offer that change?
Last night’s debate proved to be something of a score draw with David Cameron appearing more relaxed and as a result seeing his standing in the polls improve; expect him to throw everything at winning next week’s final round and Gordon Brown was as dreadful as before; for him things can only get worse now. The truth remains though while the Liberal Democrats, as I pointed out during conference season, lack the fire in their bellies necessary to force open the doors to the political big time their success in this election could provide much needed encouragement for those individuals and parties that do.
And another thing:
What a difference a week makes, last week the skies were a blue dome free from any blemish save the odd cloud, now they’re crowded with planes once more. While I’m glad that the stranded holidaymakers are finally able to make their way home I can’t help feeling that the resultant vapour trails look a little too much like graffiti on the roof of the Sistine chapel.
After almost fifty years of battling international super villains and their henchmen armed with claw hands and deadly bowler hats James Bond had been done in by his most deadly adversary; the accounts department. MGM, film distributors for the Bond franchise are in financial trouble and so work on the latest movie has been indefinitely suspended.
You can imagine how the conversation went:
Bond: (tied to a table with a circular saw spinning uncomfortably close to his family assets) ‘Do you expect me to talk?’
Evil Accounts Exec: (stroking a white Persian cat naturally) ‘No Mr Bond; I expect you to produce receipts.’
And finally, a good friend who keeps his eye on such things told me yesterday that calls to the Samaritans have risen threefold since the start of the election; never mind Gordon, not long to go now.