Peter Hoskin

Clegg Watch

Clegg Watch
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Nick Clegg's certainly proving his worth as a newsmaker; something the Lib Dems have lacked in recent times.  After his we-could-possibly-enter-a-coalition-with-the-Tories revelation in the FT, he has a very-readable piece in today's Times on "how to stop future funding scandals".  The article's more noteworthy for it's punchiness than for its ideas (although Clegg does recommend that non-doms should be banned from "taking a position in Parliament").  And it neatly keys into the consensus that recent scandals relate to politics as a whole, whilst subtly reminding us that the Lib Dems have remained largely untainted by it all:

"The Derek Conway affair is not the first, nor likely to be the last, in a long line of political scandals over money. While such scandals have formed a steady trickle for generations, the floodgates seemed to open 18 months ago with the cash-for-peerages investigation. It may be tempting for politicians to argue that each scandal is separate from the others, but the British people simply don't see it that way.

It's time to admit there's a pattern here. The relationship between money and politics is rotten, and it is hollowing out our whole political system. Public cynicism has never been greater. The details of the latest scandals, while of obsessive interest to the Westminster village, mean little to the public. They don't distinguish between MPs pay and expenses and dodgy donors to political parties. All they remember is the association between politicians, money and scandal.

No political party should believe that any partisan advantage can be gained from the latest rash of revelations. We're all in this together. It is politics itself, not one party as opposed to another, that is on trial.

So we have a choice. Either we fix the problems now, or British politics will follow the United States into big money politics, with political influence bought and twisted by the influence of cash." 

 

All-in-all, the Lib Dem leader's doing a lot right.  He's given his party a vision; he's delivering improved poll results; and now he's engaging in a spot of party-profile-raising PR work.  Now all Clegg's got to do is dodge those potential clouds on the horizon...