So Calderdale was one of the local parties who scheduled an EGM to discuss Clegg’s leadership under §10.2(f) of the party constitution, in which an election for the leader can be triggered if 75 local parties call for one. If you’re looking for the result: sorry, but I’m not going to divulge it myself. This post should be read in conjunction with Sarah Brown’s post about her local party EGM in Cambridge, and is published in conjunction with it. So here’s the speech I wrote for the EGM: I got called for time near the very end, but I was still able to get the points across.
Good evening all,
I’m going to say to you all what needs to be said, and has done for a long time: Clegg has to go. It’s as simple as that.
Even as a leader, Clegg is objectively bad. When Paddy Ashdown stepped down, he left us with 24 MPs and 8 MEPs more than he started with. Kennedy gave us 16 more MPs and 2 more MEPs. Even Menzies bagged us a by-election win. Clegg’s record? Minus 6 MPs and Minus 10 MEPs. That’s despite Cleggmania, by the way. We can talk about the squeeze and tactical voting, but seriously, Clegg’s had seven years to make a winning team. He hasn’t. Yes, we are in government, but we are running the risk of not being in government for another decade or two, because of Clegg’s attitude to coalition.
And in the past few months he’s completely shredded any credibility he may have had left. Take him posing with the Sun a few weeks ago. Given who his predecessor-but-one in Sheffield Hallam was, and what that person did, he should know what message that sends out to people. Miliband eventually got the message, even if he lost a few councillors because of it. The Sun asked why anyone would apologise for posing with the Sun. I can think of ninety-six reasons.
This happened the week the phone-hacking trial reaching a conclusion. Remember, at the start of the trial, when we were waving the banner of never courting Murdoch? He’s becoming a law unto himself. His complete failure to veto Secret Courts despite two consecutive conferences are a perfect example of that. And the sting of telling people, after losing hundreds of hardworking councillors and all but one of our MEPs, after leaving my community unrepresented for the first time in 14 years, to “shut up and deliver leaflets”? Clegg could end all of this hurt now, but I fear that he won’t stop until we become the famed asterisk in the polling data again.
But this is all internal and academic to the main point: nobody trusts Clegg any more. They haven’t since December 2010. Every time I try to get my fellow students to vote for us, I get the two word response “tuition fees”. Even if I say I oppose them. Even if I say the system is actually fairer. Even if I say Labour are worse. It just ends the argument. Because the problem wasn’t actually raising tuition fees: it was because we were seen to very visibly break a promise we very visibly made.
There’s truth to the idea that we’ve got in bed with the Tories – even if I’m going to dispense with the standard homophobic jokes that entails – because we haven’t been able to differentiate ourselves. It was right to go into coalition, only if to prevent the horror of Tory majority rule by now, but we’re not making ourselves known. The spoils go to the Tories, the blame to us. They’re even trying to steal credit for same-sex marriage, after failing to produce a majority at any point in the Commons on it. Some Minister for Constitutional Reform that Clegg is. A stronger person would have at least updated our parliamentary conventions for plural government.
It’s time to take our party back before it dies.