The Dissenter's Voice

The ocassional comments, opinions, rambling and rants of a liberal dissenter in New Labour's Britain

Friday, October 19, 2007

It has to be Clegg

Nick Clegg surprised no one by announcing today that he is the running to succeed Ming Campbell as Leader of the LibDems. Even before he was elected to Parliament two years ago he was being tipped as a future party leader.

Clegg, is young, bright, articulate and as the new Facebook group says ´more of a hottie than David Cameron´. However more important that youth and goodlooks, he combines the ability to challenge the party´s cosy assumptions (his announcement called for the LibDems to leave their comfort zone and be wary of excessive state interference) while unifying the party around a forward looking 21st Century liberalism.

It was a pleasant surprise yesterday morning that when the leading ´leftwing´ contender Steve Webb announced that he was not running himself, he did not chose the candidate who appeared to be closer to that wing of the party but instead backed Nick Clegg, the unabashed Orange Booker. Indeed he is not alone, Phil Willis, Mark Hunter and Paul Rowen, MPs who all along with Webb backed Simon Hughes last time out have already declared their support for Clegg.

What is it then about Clegg that can pull together such a wide coalition of support with Ed David, Juila Goldsworthy, Greg Mulholland and Sarah Teather also adding their backing? Well, Clegg speaks to a basic truth about British politics - it is liberalism that is the underlying theme of modern political discourse. Words like freedom, choice, diversity, and opportunity trip of the tongue of every Labour & Tory politician. However, although they have hijacked the language of liberalism they don´t truly understand it. It is the Liberal Democrats alone in British politics who are the true champions of this tradition, we just have to be brave enough to go back to our roots and rediscover that voice. That won´t happen by chance, we need to refresh and rethink our approach, we don´t need to change our values but we do need to find a new way of challenging ourselves and the country.

We need to can articulate a vision that speaks to the millions of voters who share our party´s values but have never previously thought of themselves as Liberal Democrats. We need to begin to call the Liberal Diaspora that spread across the political spectrum from the wreckage of the old Liberal Party back home. We need a party leader who can inspire and build a new liberal coalition that looks like the country we want to represent. We need someone with energy, intellect, charisma and determination.

Quite simply we need Nick Clegg - he gets my vote.


Blogger Toby Philpott said...

Well said Charles.

5:27 PM  
Blogger John Locke's Ghost said...

"...with Ed David,..."
- you mean Ed Davey?

6:57 PM  
Blogger Tristan said...

Well said.

A further point to note is that we must not throw away these liberal terms because the enemy has adopted them - like many have done with free markets and economic liberalism, we must stand up and say that we are glad the opposition has finally learned that these are important, but why do they still restrict them?

12:30 PM  

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