Posts tagged ‘nick clegg’

Big changes on the way after UK election?

There’s never been a British general election campaign like this one! With just over a week to go before the May 6 election day it seems from the opinion polls that big changes could be on the way.

Here the Brits stand, midway between a Continental tradition of coalition government with multiple parties, and a US-style presidential battle between party leaders. The talk in Britain is of a hung parliament with no clear majority, of coalitions and of new voting systems. For some this is a threat (“look at Belgium!”), for some a promise (“look at Germany!”).

It’s the televised debates between the party leaders which have transformed this election. Nick Clegg, relatively unknown in Britain, former member of the European Parliament, member of Leon Brittan’s cabinet in the 1990s and now leader of the UK Liberal Democrats, was given his chance to shine. In an electorate still bitter at the parliamentary expenses scandal Clegg was able to distance himself and his party from the two parties which have dominated British politics for the last 60 years and to channel some of the indignation of the public in his favour.

His appeal to younger and sceptical voters seems to be particularly telling. We’ll see after the third debate next Thursday April 29 whether the Liberal Democrats can sustain their poll rating which puts them on level pegging with the Conservatives!

Britain’s relations with the EU have played a curious role in the debate so far. For both Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown the Conservatives’ secession from the European People’s Party was a stick to beat David Cameron. “Joining with a bunch of nutters” said Clegg. Cameron refused to be drawn in response other than to refer to the Polish president’s tragic death. Cameron might after all be prime minister in two weeks’ time and need all the friends he can get.

Cameron was also circumspect on EU policy issues, providing just enough to feed the appetite of a sceptical party (“in Europe, but not run by Europe”) and attacking the failure to hold a referendum on Lisbon, but giving no hostages to fortune. Take immigration for instance, which is one of the most emotive issues in this election. David Cameron, as well as Brown and Clegg, repeatedly stressed that Conservative policies would be directed at controlling the flow of “non-EU” immigrants, with passing reference to future accessions but not even a token threat to migration within the Union.

The catch phrase of the first of the debates was “I agree with Nick”, which did Mr Clegg no harm, but Gordon Brown did attack him for being anti-American – a clear confirmation of the British prime minister’s foreign policy instincts which give as much weight to the trans-Atlantic relationship as to Europe. Given his party’s opposition to the invasion of Iraq, it was an accusation that Clegg could live with.

It is impossible to predict how the euro-sceptic UK Independence Party will do on May 6. There is little sign that Europe is playing a major part in the general campaign, but any revolt against the main parties could translate into votes for UKIP and there are parts of the country such as Cornwall where anti-EU feeling runs strongly.

No one is counting their chickens. There’s little doubt that the Liberal Democrats will do well in terms of total votes in next month’s vote, but this could well translate into second place in many constituencies – the consequence of the first-past-the-post electoral system. My own prediction, or rather guess, is that the demand for change and poor turnout will hit the Labour vote, that the Conservatives will secure a small overall majority and that the Liberals will strengthen their position in the House of Commons.

This would not be a comfortable outcome if it put a newly elected prime minister David Cameron in hock to an anti-EU fringe in his own party.

Michael

April 26, 2010 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

Clegg and Huhne still friends, at least on Facebook

After a bout of political car crash TV on yesterday’s The Politics Show (BBC), a quick and dirty scan through the listings on Facebook reveals that former UK MEPs Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg are still friends.  The Guardian speculates wildly today that whoever loses the UK Liberal leadership election campaign is not likely to find themselves on the Lib Dem front bench… If you like road kill, you can watch it again here.

Elsewhere in the world of Facebook, our weekend reading (sad, we know) of the European Voice spots a small article on the prevalence of MEPs on the social networking platform. Something regular visitors will know we have been keen on for a while. They highlight three MEPs with Facebook profiles, with due respect to political balance of course.

  • UK PES member Claude Moraes (London) has a current tally of 386 friends.
  • UK ALDE member Sajjad Karim (North-West England) has a current tally of 114, which includes former Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell MP, further evidence perhaps that Facebook is reaching out to older generations. He also is friends with Graham Watson MEP, which prompts the age old question of what to do when your boss asks you to become his friend?
  • However, Swedish EPP member Christopher Fjellner wins in both quantity and quality of friends. His current tally of 628 friends is higher than the other two and it also appears to be stock full of an amazingly high percentage of attractive young professionals.

Finally, the European Voice suggests that one can contact both the Commission and Parliament Presidents by giving them a quick “poke” via Facebook, while underlining that their current profiles appear to be spoofs. Note to EV journalist – before “poking” a politician to see if they have received your latest request for an interview you may want to check this group out. In future, may we suggest using the Xme application to make sure that what you want to say is what is understood.

November 19, 2007 at 11:40 am Leave a comment


About this blog

A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at www.fleishman-hillard.eu

Subscribe to this blog

FH Brussels tweets

FH corporate reputation

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Archives


%d bloggers like this: