Coffee House

Why Nick Clegg is so keen to pick a fight with Nigel Farage

17 February 2014

6:50 PM

17 February 2014

6:50 PM

Before the European Elections in May, don’t expect either David Cameron or Ed MIliband to engage with Nigel Farage. Both the Tory and Labour leaders think that the best strategy for dealing with Ukip and its leader is to deny them the oxygen of publicity. Nick Clegg, by contrast, is desperate for a scrap with the Ukip leader.

Clegg’s rationale is that the more fights he can pick with Farage, the more he can turn the European Elections into a fight between In—led by Clegg and the Liberal Democrats—and Out, championed by Farage and his party. Clegg hopes that this polarised contest will prevent a total wipeout of Lib Dem MEPs. Being pro-European might, to put it mildly, not be the most popular cause in Britain but it is a lot more popular than the Liberal Democrats.


The Liberal Democrats are also hoping that positioning themselves as the party of ‘in’ can help them with the business vote. They want to present themselves to the corporate world and the City as a restraining influence on the two main parties, holding Labour back on tax and spending and the Tories on Europe.

There is also a more personal reason behind Clegg’s decision to pick a fight with Farage. The Lib Dem leader is an emotional pro-European. He has a Dutch mother and a Spanish wife and believes in European integration in a way that few other British politicians do. He feels that this country is reaching a defining moment in its debate on Europe and that he has to stand up to those arguing for out.

Whatever Clegg does in the next few months, I expect that Ukip will comfortably outpoll the Liberal Democrats at the European Elections in May. But Clegg’s decision to take this stand is revealing of what he truly thinks is important in politics.

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Show comments
  • flaxdoctor

    Come on, give the guy a break – he’s the only man alive who can honestly claim he prevented Chris ‘Lying Jailbird’ Huhne becoming Deputy Prime Minister.

  • crosscop

    Farage could finish the Lib-Dems off once and for all if he had the guts to repeatedly beat them around the head with Islam. He only needs to quote Simon Hughes’ grovelling ” We want you to lead us” and “We want a Muslim Prime Minister” and back that up with Clegg’s deceit after Lee Rigby was murdered when he deliberately misquoted a verse from the Koran (5:32) that justifies the murder so that it appeared to do the opposite. I would love to see Clegg’s face if Farage read out the next verse (5:33) which justifies not only the murder but crucifixion and mutilation of people like Lee Rigby and asked Cleggie why he didn’t mention that one.

  • Cyril Sneer

    I think that after the next General Election it won’t matter what Clegg thinks or does (not like it ever did to be fair) as they will cease to be relevant (not like they ever were).

    Their only escape is a coalition government with Labour. Lets hope it doesn’t come to that, I think they’ve had their time in the sun, now it’s time to kill them off for good.

  • Colonel Mustard

    “The Lib Dem leader is an emotional pro-European. He has a Dutch mother and a Spanish wife and believes in European integration in a way that few other British politicians do.”

    Integration? Vengeful subjugation of the indigenous English more like. “Tears of a Clown” has expressed his contempt for the rightful people of this country many times.

  • Ken

    “But Clegg’s decision to take this stand is revealing of what he truly thinks is important in politics.”

    You mean … protecting his pension?

  • OJCorbs

    “He has a Dutch mother and a Spanish wife ” so what? Farage has a German wife and is of German-French ancestry.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Change the ‘e’ for an ‘a’ and you would have an excellent example of nominative determinism.

    • Seldom Seen

      And who among us doesn’t like a bit of that old nominative determinism around this time of year when Spring is just around the corner?

  • RavenRandom

    Clegg the Weasel. How I miss Spitting Image.

  • Kitty MLB

    Cleggie wants to fillet a major Kipper
    to show what a big boy he has grown into -Bless his
    little cotton socks.
    I wish we never had those TV debates at the last election,
    lies , treachery, deceit and in his words – New Politics.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Does anybody outside the dwindling core of Libdems actually give a toss what the pointless Clegg has to say anymore?

    Clegg is only attacking Farage because there is no one else for the Libdems to fight. He’s too busy trying to prostituting his party out to Labour or Conservative in a post 2015 coalition to seriously go up against them.

    It quite sickening and terribly pathetic how Clegg is sycophantically pandering to and acting as Labour and Tories stooge by attacking UKIP

    • Makroon

      Why are you so upset ? Clegg “attacking” Saint Nige can only help UKIP.

  • AnotherDave
    • Wessex Man

      Desperate halfwit tory wants to take on desperate halfwit lib/dum, hope their nails are long enough.

  • I_am_not_completely_stupid

    Nigel Farage has a Gerrman wife.

    I have a Russian Grandfather and the mother of my children is Ukrainian, but I am still a Ukip member.
    UKip has a happy fellowship with the people of Europe; it is the Government of the EU with which UKIP disagrees, because it is manifestly incompetent, undemocratic and impossible to change by democratic means.

    • Two Bob

      My nan might be foreign soon, shes a Scot!

    • HookesLaw

      According to some kippers on here you are a ‘mongrel’ and they don’t mean it in a kindly puppy dog way.

      • saffrin

        According to you you are a Tory. If you are a Tory, so is David Cameron.
        LibLabCon artists both

        • HookesLaw

          Gormless comment. Your prejudiced slip is showing.

          • saffrin

            I’m British, proud and blatantly prejudiced.
            You on the other hand are Lord Haw-haw’s grandson are you not?

            • HookesLaw

              It’s not me exhibiting fascist tendencies around here. We already knew you were prejudiced.

      • James Strong

        Citation needed, please. I’d be interested to see if you can back up this claim.
        I feel no antipathy to Europeans, but I will explicitly exclude adherents of the RoP from that.
        But I want us out of the EU because of the reasons ‘not completely stupid’ gave.
        ‘Kippers’ I speak to are pretty much the same: pro-European peoples but opposed to EU corrupt bureaucratic control that interferes with the way we live in the UK.

  • Two Bob

    UKIP membership hits record 34,000. Soon UKIP will have more members than Lib Dems.

    • AnotherDave

      What’s happening on Channel 5?

      • HookesLaw

        A discussion on immigration. Since UKIP latched on to being the respectable face of the BNP and majors on being anti immigrant, foreigner and ‘no coloureds here’, Bob clearly thinks any mention of immigration is good for UKIP.

        • Smithersjones2013

          More smears. Hooky you really are a Kenny Everett character.

          But only in the best possible taste……

          • HookesLaw

            You don’t listen to UKIPs rants then?

            • Two Bob

              More interesting than yours, since you claim to be a Tory when you sound like a green party activist.

            • Wessex Man

              I thought that ranting was reserved for you, a real Tory Nigel Lawson tells us in Freedom Today the EU is well past it’s see-by date. I see from our Association Council list that more and more Tory MPs are joining, are you going to organise a campaign to have them expelled Hooky? or are you going to defect to the party you should be in?

        • saffrin

          One of the BNP’s major policies is to rebuild Britain’s manufacturing industries, reopen the coal mines and renationalise everything Thatcher, Bliar, Brown and call me Dave privatised.
          However, as those policies are against the EU’s free capitalist market doktrin, the LibLabCon party and the EU’s propaganda machine instigated a propaganda hate campaign based on the BNP’s immigration and voluntary repatriation claiming it racist.

          • HookesLaw

            Yes thanks for that. No seriously, I am really grateful. Smug in fact.

          • Tony Quintus

            Yes, perfectly sound, except for where the money will come from for renationalisation and infrastructure investment, or how these re-opened shaft pits (those that weren’t converted to open cast) will be economically sustainable.
            Sounds like a page out of the Lib Dem/SNP playbook, policies which sound great, because they’ll never have to be delivered

        • Two Bob

          The fact it is actually being discussed? Not to mention the fact that it will focus the minds of the general public. HookesLaw stop pretending you vote Tory when you are clearly nothing of the sort. You sound like you come from Brighton.

        • Cyril Sneer


      • saffrin

        A so called “Honest Debate on Immigration”.
        The reality is, as I just been watching it is, three on the panel are pro immigration arguing with one anti immigration, the Chair is lefty Ann Diamond, the audience mostly hand picked immigrant, one of which has been given a microphone to aid his heckling.

        • HookesLaw

          Anne Diamond? Clearly a heavyweight debate. She is a woman and on the telly – I suppose that is enough justification to call her a lefty in your book (there was me thiknking she wrote in the Mail and broadcast on the radio to leafy Berkshire).
          Seeing as this is about immigration you would have been better off pointing out her parents are Irish and he father brought up in Scotland.

          • saffrin

            Anne Diamond is a regular panelist on The Wright Show. How lefty PC tw*t do they have to be to get on there more than once?
            She’s also got a show on BBC’s Radio Oxford.
            Her only name to fame being she’s always good for a still birth.
            Three and counting to date. One could argue, God believes one is more than enough thank you.

            • HookesLaw

              So thats, ‘she’s a woman and on the tele’…
              You are telling us all rather more than we want to know about you. There you go folks another one exposed.

            • Mr Creosote

              Is the reference to still birth really necessary?? Much as i find her irritating in the extreme, bringing personal tragedy into this is beyond the pale.

              • saffrin

                Only that she used it, for over a decade, in order to get back on telly as a celeb.

          • Two Bob

            Fake Tory alert!

          • fubarroso

            Don’t you mean swampy Berkshire?

    • MirthaTidville

      And the way they are going they will soon have more members than the useless Tories

    • Makroon

      I think you mean UKIP may be a boost for the nobody-is-watching channel.

  • Andy

    Glad to say Nigel Farage will wipe the floor with the toe rag.

  • monty61

    Clutching at straws as he and his party drown. Not a pretty sight.

  • SP_Davies

    Given this and Cleggs cosying up to Labour, it is looking more likely he will lead, in true Light Brigade style, his merry band of Game of Thrones extras (excepting Creature the House Elf Cable) into the next General Election. Most of us thought he would jump ship when the next UK EU Commissioner post came up but could Spineless Dave actually be going to send a Conservative to Brussels? slightly optimist given he actually has to be re elected first.

  • AnotherDave

    UKIP also want the EU Parliament elections to be seen as an in/out referendum on EU membership.

    If the LDs use their EU election campaign to promote that message, I’m sure UKIP will appreciate the help.

  • colliemum

    Aww, give Cleggy a chance! He’s cosying up to Labour (as reported on Coffee House), he’s desperately trying not to be too beastly to the Tories – he’s gotta have someone he can ‘fight’, to show he really really means it …!

  • Nicholas chuzzlewit

    Mr Clegg is a duplicitous, petulant, egotistical, untrustworthy, incompetent child and if he spoke in favour of St Francis of Assisi, that particular saint’s reputation would be irreparably damaged. As the Americans say of dud politicians, ‘you can stick a fork in him coz he’s done’.

    • David_Evershed

      Shouldn’t we judge the political parties on their policies?

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Your absolutely right. Mr Clegg promised a European referendum, no increase in student fees and a reduction in the number of MPs and redrawing of constituency boundaries. His approach to these policies on reaching office was to renege on all of them in the manner of a petulant, incompetent, untrustworthy, duplicitous child. I trust that clarifies my position based on policies.

  • Lady Magdalene

    “Why Nick Clegg is so keen to pick a fight with Nigel Farage”
    Pick one of the following:
    a) He’s an attention-seeker (whose Party has just been slaughtered in Wythenshawe)
    b) He’s anxious to deflect attention from the sex-pests in the LibDems
    c) He’s a machochist
    Difficult to choose?
    Just tick all three then.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      You forgot (d) he is a duplicitous and unprincipled stinker.

      • Ian Walker

        I’m fairly sure that (a) thru (d) can all be neatly packaged up as “he’s a Lib Dem”

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Agreed. Thank you for your admirable verbal economy and precision.

    • Conway

      Not to mention that his EU pension depends on his allegiance to the EU.

      • Patricia

        Yes, there you have it – follow the money !

    • 2trueblue

      Quite so, he needs the attention.

  • edlancey

    Just a pity Clegg is a talentless idiot who owes his unmerited high position to a caprice of the electoral system.

  • Jack Dawson

    Is this the same Clegg that just before the last General election was going to offer us a referendum on EU membership? Surely not.

    • Wahrheit

      Wasnt going to raise uni fees either but we know how that turned out…

      • OriginalChris

        Goes back on promises like someone else we know?

        • Wahrheit

          Like most politicians to be fair, few have found a principle they cant ditch in the blink of an eye.
          My party leader has been on the same path for 20 years, he is atleast consistant in what he says and does, that alone is worthy of note in these days of shifting policy.

      • David_Evershed

        The Lib Dems are not in power. It is a coalition government. The Lib Dems had to give way on doing away with fees and the Conservatives had to accept the Lib Dem policy to increase the income tax threshold to £10,000.

        Even so, the compromise reached on fees means, on latest figures, that 40% will never pay them. For the other 60% the annual fees will be lower per annum than under Labour (although it will last for more years if they keep earning a decent salary)

    • Lady Magdalene

      Yes. This was taken down from the LibDems website 24 hours before Clegg whipped the LibDems (as did Cameron and Miliband) to vote against an EU Referendum in November 2011.

    • Andy

      Yes well we all know he is a lying piece of sh*t.

    • Major_Eyeswater

      Mr Dawson, I too seem to remember a moment in the leadership debate (that led to the “I agree with Nick” season) where he turned, dewy-eyed, to the camera and told the British people that the time had come for an in/out referendum on the EU.

      Naturally the BBC will be playing this moment back on our TV screens throughout the forthcoming election, probably in a continuous loop. Then again, maybe not.

      • Kitty MLB

        Indeed Major.
        We all remember fresh faced young Cleggie,
        new politics, different from the old parties, so he said.
        Someone aught to have told him that his party was one of the oldest,
        and there is a reason why they had not been the government for decades. I think they say politics is the art of deception.

      • David_Evershed

        Whilst there has been no on/out referendum, the coalition government has made it a law that a referendum will have to be held before the transfer of any more powers to the EU. Nick Clegg is part of the Government that reached this compromise.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Oh he is but the question will be phrased as follows: ‘ Do agree that if you you vote yes the UK will stay in the EU but if you vote no, the UK will not leave the EU? Supplementary question: ‘should my pension be raised in line with inflation or should inflation rise in line with my EU pension?