Nick Clegg's Political Career Takes An Unexpected Turn
After a weekend of bluster Nick Clegg has failed to appear in the House of Commons this afternoon for the Prime Ministers statement on on the EU treaty. Aides say he didn't want to be a distraction. Poor lamb.
Like it or not Clegg is part of the government and should be there; the deputy prime minister can't cherry pick only the fluffy warm user-friendly announcements that he wants to be associated with. In fact, Clegg has done himself enormous damage this weekend. Flip flopping between different views doesn't sit well with voters who, like and agree with them or not, prefer men of conviction and loyalty. Clegg meanwhile is displaying all the characteristics of a political and moral coward and in effect is ensuring his own political end.
What he may have failed to appreciate is that if Cameron had gone along with the treaty, the subsequent referendum would have kicked the EU firmly into touch in the UK and the subsequent and inevitable general election would have signed off himself and the rest of his lie-down-and-cry party into deep oblivion for a generation. Cameron's act of defiance therefore was in fact in the Liberal's best political interests.
It is anyway a common talking point amongst Liberals that Clegg will get the heave at the next general election from the good people of Sheffield. He may find that the EU commissioner job he was pencilled in for is off the scorecard now and so should it be.
The best thing that Clegg can do is to man up and stand firm for the government and for Britain. If it alienates his party members then so be it. His only alternative is immediate resignation. Any compromise between the two will leave his reputation and future in tatters and regardless of what some of his more naive colleagues and flapping BBC journo's may think, the same will be true of his party's electoral prospects.