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The tragic embarrassment of Sir Nick Clegg

If you thought Nick Clegg’s career reached its nadir with the ‘I’m sorry’ video then think again. The former Deputy Prime Minister is re-enacting the stunning success of his political career out in Silicon Valley where he’s paid £2.7 million a year to sell his soul to Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and the rest of the Facebook – today rebranding as Meta – cabal. Whereas Sir Nick is all too familiar for us here in Britain, Americans were not au fait with the former Lib Dem leader when he was appointed as vice president of the social media behemoth back in 2018.

But all that has changed in the last month, with Clegg becoming a familiar face to millions stateside thanks to his near-constant cringing appearances on American networks. Facebook/Meta has endured a torrid few weeks of revelations, leaks and whistleblower broadsides, with the company now accused of turning a blind eye to hate speech, anti-democratic plotting, and even human trafficking on its platform. And Clegg – in the absence of Zuckerberg and Sandberg – is the sacrificial lamb to the media slaughter, constantly being wheeled out to face the guns of the American press.

With a face that contorts between exasperated anguish and pained self-righteousness, his various interviews appear to have done little to win over the critics. There’s talk about a ‘more senior global leader’ being needed to do his job, with Clegg being compared to a tobacco salesman for his deflections. Still, at least during such moments he can retreat to his £7 million house fitted with a pool, ‘outdoor fireplace’ and hot tub – in the Atherton neighbourhood of the San Francisco Bay Area, believed to boast America’s highest property prices. Not for nothing did the Guardian quote Clegg’s wife Miriam praise for California: ‘People praise failure here in a way we don’t.

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