Wednesday 10 March 2010

Nick Clegg outflanks Cameron on right with praise for Maggie and cuts strategy

Fraser Nelson previews The Spectator's interview with Nick Clegg, in which the LibDem leader has "put his heart into showing his hidden Tory side" according to the Speccy editor, who awards him a blue rose in noting his bid for a heir to Thatcher accolade.

It sounds as though it could be a major talking point at the LibDem spring conference in Birmingham this weekend, where it may not meet with universal acclaim among party members.

The LibDem leader is back in "savage cuts" territory, by arguing that the deficit should be dealt with only by spending cuts and no tax rises, which outflanks Cameron and Osborne on the right. (Nelson contrasts that with a Tory approach of 80% cuts to 20% tax rises ratio, and Labour 66% to 33%).

Clegg may well be decisively outflanking the voters on their right too. (Left Foot Forward had an interesting discussion of this question of the tax/spending balance last Autumn; and this month showed public fear of spending cuts may outweigh fears of the deficit).

The timing of the high-profile interview suggests that the LibDem leader tends to seek sharper public definition through the Blairesque tactic of aggravating many of his own own activists.

It would also seem to signal that Clegg has his sights rather more on anti-Tory defence in the south-east and south-west than in taking the urban fight to Labour.

Last Autumn, Clegg retreated on the "savage cuts" language which horrified shadow cabinet colleagues, while Steve Webb swiftly dismissed the leader's desire to means test child benefit.

I wonder if the oppose all tax rises line will survive.

And what might ex-New Statesman editor John Kampfner, who published a CentreForum pamphlet to announce his conversion to LibDems yesterday, makes of Clegg's relish for spending cuts and apparent ruling out of tax rises to bear some of the burden.

Might Next Left humbly suggest that this could be the ideal first opportunity for Kampfner to foment an internal rebellion in his new party?

1 comment:

Robert said...

Nothing to do with a Hung Parliament, and the Tories or labour he might join, if labour comes out tops then he will lean with brown, if it's Cameron he'll kiss the butt of Thatcher.

I will be sitting at home on election day because if i voted i might do something stupid and vote BNP