The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Can Nick Clegg Justify His Inclusion?

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 15, 2010 @ 16:00

Gotta be a yellow tie tonight though, Nick...

Nick Clegg, in one respect, has already won. Being able to be on the stage despite the fact that he has zero chance of being Prime Minister is a great coup. In some ways though, he deserves it. This is still a parliamentary system, and Clegg is representing Lib Dems up and down the country.

What that says is that he has a much broader weight to bear. While Cameron and Brown can carry their party single handedly, Clegg must do a good job on behalf of all Lib Dem candidates out there. He can’t rely on Vince Cable tonight, though expect his name to appear several times…

In order to win the debate, however, Clegg has a mountain to climb. He must look, sound and act prime ministerial without getting petulant or losing his cool. He has to prove that he is indeed worthy of being on that stage. The key way of doing so is to ram home the Liberal Democrat “four themes” in every single answer. The goal is to make sure the watching audience know exactly what Lib Dems stand for, in order that local campaigns can keep building on that momentum.

He must get the message across that his party wants to do things differently. That is easy, but it’s not so easy to convince the audience you mean it, simply because Cameron will be saying exactly the same thing. He could go on the attack against the whole democratic system of the country, but that would very much make him look like a loose cannon, potentially unstable. Unfit for leadership. I don’t envy him.

I very much expect a measured, dignified, controlled performance from Clegg as a result, one that will set off no fireworks, but do no harm in the credibility stakes. Much like the Paxman interview. It won’t make him the winner, but it will do enough to encourage many people that they can trust the Lib Dems.

How he reacts under cross-examination will be key. Nick Clegg has a tendency to look a bit flustered if the pressure is applied. And if he fluffs any of the classic party message on hung parliaments, he will be in trouble.

A precarious tightrope to walk across, then, but one he can conquer by staying in control and fully balanced.

Clegg already gets his prize for being there. Jeopardising it with a dodgy performance will finish the Lib Dems as a potential credible force for another generation. Seeing it through with a solid, but unremarkable, performance will ensure the visibility bonus will carry forward into the coming weeks.

A tough job. He can’t “win”, but he can give the party a lift.

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2 Responses to “Can Nick Clegg Justify His Inclusion?”

  1. Neil Craig said

    The real effect of his inclusion is to give an official state seal of approval on the LibDems as being in no way out of line with the other branches of our ruling party & excluding UKIP, who, while placing 2nd in the last UK election held, are not agreed with them on almost all the issues.

    It just shows how corrupt this no choice “election” is.

  2. […] Can Nick Clegg Justify His Inclusion? […]

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