This week, Nick Clegg gave his first newspaper interview since the Lib Dem’s near-total wipeout at the General Election last year, and it makes for an interesting read. Saying he felt compelled to speak out by the actions of the Government, he accuses David Cameron of using “One Nation rhetoric” to mask his Government’s decision to abandon the Coalition’s progressive policies. He condemns Cameron and Osborne for “Americanising” British politics by “rigging the rules” against their opponents in the hope of creating a “one-party state.” The Conservatives’ game-playing, combined with Labour incompetence, is leaving British voters completely voiceless, he laments.
Although he is largely right, it’s hard to see how one can blame the Tories for spotting a window of advantage and diving head first through it. If it’s true that we are living in a one-party state, who’s fault is that? It’s the Government’s job to dominate the debate and drive its agenda; it’s an opposition’s job to make that difficult for them. The SNP do a very good job of course, but on one issue only. And while Clegg does blame Labour accordingly, there is limited reflection of the Lib Dem’s own performance. Diminished though they are in size, the Lib Dems are failing to make their voice heard and Westminster is worse off for it.
There aren’t many on the Opposition benches these days with the skill or will to challenge the Conservative narrative in a compelling and consistent way. Ironically, Nick Clegg was one politician who could, and his voice is sorely missed.