Trying out new career options on LBC this morning, Nick Clegg inadvertently illustrated several serious political truths.
A caller claimed to have been a member of the ‘Liberal Democrat’ party – indeed an ex county-councillor in Surrey. But he said that he had recently ripped up his party membership card. Happily, however, he proceeded to read from it.
Before this morning I had never heard anyone recite this hilarious document. But if the caller was telling the truth the card says:
‘The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.’
The caller wanted to know how Mr Clegg was able to ‘reconcile’ what his party’s membership card says with what the ex-councillor depicted as this government’s ‘attacks’ on ‘the poorest in society including the unemployed, the working poor and the disabled.’ It was a beautiful moment where two delusionists met: the fibbed-to finally faced the fibber.
Throughout his political career Mr Clegg told the public what he thought they needed to hear. Thus he is in no position to start telling truths now. The flip-side is that anybody who has listened to him in the past is likely to be less capable of receiving truths now, even – or perhaps especially – if they are uttered by Mr Clegg.
What the caller needed to be told was what Chancellor Merkel said a recent interview:
‘If Europe today accounts for just over 7 percent of the world’s population, produces around 25 percent of global GDP and has to finance 50 percent of global social spending, then it’s obvious that it will have to work very hard to maintain its prosperity and way of life.’
Indeed. If they want to continue the lifestyles they currently have, Europeans are going to have to start working very hard indeed. Yet people like our councillor friend have been told for years by the Cleggs, Cables, and Hughes’ of this world that even a mild critique of welfare spending constitutes some form of enslavement.
Some of the Conservative party are able to explain the reality, as are some members of the Labour party. But unpicking political lies takes time. In the meantime, as Herbert Stein’s law goes: things that cannot go on, will not.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.