The Dissenter's Voice

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Now Clegg has to lead

First things first, congratulations are due to Chris Huhne. It’s not usual to congratulate the loser of a contest, particularly when you voted for the winner but Chris ran an effective, focused and dynamic campaign. The narrowness of the loss was a testament to the verve with which he fought and he will have a well deserved seat at the top table.

But what about the winner? Certainly Nick Clegg should be congratulated on his victory, however he cannot honestly be congratulated on his campaign. He fought a awkward, cautious campaign which at times appeared so frightened of being labelled rightwing that he failed to articulate a clear, compelling message about himself or the party.

None the less, as any by-election candidate knows a narrow win is still a win and Nick is now leader. That means though that Nick now has to lead. I don’t believe that the Nick Clegg we saw during the leadership election is the Nick Clegg we have just chosen as Leader. Nick is bright, charismatic, and astute – he understands the challenges the party faces, the size of the job in both organisational & policy terms. He must now though learn the lessons of his campaign – when he was timid and unclear he lost ground, when he was bold and challenging he set the agenda. If Nick is to fulfil his and our potential then he has to be true to his instincts, he must now leave the caution behind. He cannot lead forever looking over his shoulder, his victory gives him a mandate and he must use it to push through an outward looking agenda of change.

Chris would have been a good leader, if he allows himself to be himself then Nick has the opportunity to be a great one.