>Laying bare the year of… Nick Clegg

>In this new festive feature, the VN team will look into the year of a variety of high profile figures. Today we start with Deputy PM  and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg.

Portrait of Nick Clegg.Image via Wikipedia

At the start of 2010 nobody knew who Nick Clegg was. The day the election was announced in April Clegg walked through Waterloo train station in London, unimpeded and unrecognised. At the end of 2010 he is Deputy Prime Minister in Britain’s first peace time coalition government, continually surrounded by armed policy, and taking on the role of this season’s pantomime villain.

Many will consider the turning point to be that first Prime Ministers debate when Clegg shone. It created a wave of ‘Cleggmania‘, with people realising that there genuinely was another player in town.

VN though has another moment when Nick Clegg showed he really could stand out from the crowd:

“It’s over, you’ve failed, it’s time to go” roared the Leader of the Lib Dems across the Commons chamber at one of Gordon Brown’s final PMQ’s.

Weeks later he would see this through, brusquely demand Brown step down as Prime Minister and Labour Leader before allowing his negotiators to talk to their Labour counterparts formally.

Instead of the rabble rousing that would normally occur on the back of winning a million more votes and leading your party to government for the first time, Clegg had to be more contrite at his party conference in September. “Stick with us, and together we can change Britain for good,” he urged delegates.

Clegg is deeply and instinctively pragmatic. He displayed this when VN interviewed him earlier in the year. This pragmatism led to him moving from a pre-election promise of scrapping tuition fees, to changing the system to include a near trebling of them with a better pay back system in government. The policy has caused riots on the streets, effigies of him to be burnt. He has (unfairly) gone from being the man who brought so much hope to people, to a hate figure who gets dog waste pushed through the family front door.

People may will forget what a feat Clegg pulled of getting the once unelectable Lib Dems into government. People may well distort the things he has said and done this year. One thing is for certain though, Nick Clegg won’t forget 2010 in a hurry.


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