Clegg: I will never join a coalition government

If a week is a long time in politics, 26 months is forever, right?

  "This talk of alliances comes up a lot, doesn’t it? Everyone wants
  to be in our gang. So I want to make something very clear today.

  Will I ever join a Conservative government? No.

  Will I ever join a Labour government? No.

  I will never allow the Liberal Democrats to be a mere annex to
  another party's agenda."

Nick Clegg's first speech as leader to the Lib Dem conference, March 2008

An alert WoSblog viewer (see comments below) also reveals Clegg's apparent further clarification of his position in this piece from the Telegraph a couple of months later.

  "Mr Clegg ruled out taking a Cabinet seat in a Conservative government in return for his support and instead would provide Mr Cameron with 'supply and confidence' – meaning he would promise to back a Conservative Budget and would side with the Tories in any votes of confidence."

Well, that seems pretty clear. You can trust Nick Clegg, folks!


31 Responses to “Clegg: I will never join a coalition government”

  1. Irish Al Says:

    The lying get.

  2. CdrJameson Says:

    Presumably he's not joined a Conservative or Labour government, he's joined a Conservative LibDem coalition government.

  3. That's uber-uber-weak as an argument. He's talking about alliances, and saying he won't join with anyone. There's only one word for an alliance whereby two or more political parties join in government. He's not even cleverly ambiguous about it.

  4. Surely even fans would not deny that the Liberal Democrats are currently an annex to the Conservative Party's agenda. Indeed, this is necessary for even the most benign understanding of a minor party's role in a coalition.
    So he lied. Actually lied.

  5. No, it's a good argument. Clegg said:
    "I will never allow the Liberal Democrats to become a mere annex to another party's agenda."

    He' s the deputy prime minister for Christ's sake. And he never said SUBJECT in the quote you posted. Get your facts straight.
    I will never allow the Liberal Democrats to be a mere annex to
      another party's agenda.

  6. His speech continued:
    "The establishment parties will manipulate the system to get the power they want.
    But they’ll never change it"

  7. "He' s the deputy prime minister for Christ's sake. And he never said SUBJECT in the quote you posted. Get your facts straight."
    You're serious? You honestly think that quote could possibly be taken to mean anything other than "I will never join a coalition with the Conservatives or Labour"?

  8. It seems strange to think that anyone would dream of coming to power without a coalition with one of the major parties, so I can't believe anyone would interpret the above quote in that way, unless they are either determined to "prove" a certain point, or just a bit thick.

  9. So let's be clear. What DO you think it means? Do you think he's giving his first speech as the Lib Dem leader and yet feels the need to say "I will never leave the party and become a Conservative instead"? Because that would be filed under "the bleeding obvious". Presumably you'd also expect him to stand there and say "I will never fuck a baby then kill it".
    And how do you explain all the stuff about alliances and other parties' agendas? The context of the quote, after all, is the explicit rejection of an alliance with the Conservatives.

  10. A few sentences later, Nick said: "But am I interested in building a new type of government? Yes. Based on pluralism instead of one party rule? Yes."
    So I read it more like those clothes shop adverts that say "EVERYTHING 10% OFF*" (*marked items only). Not lying, just nonsensical šŸ˜›

  11. Svend, YOU'RE the one interpreting/twisting the facts to "prove" a certain point (unless you're just a bit thick). Clegg's statement was explicit and not open to misinterpretation.

  12. Hypocee Says:

    I interpret him as promising not to play the quid-pro-quo endorsement-bitch-for-kingmaker game that was the only realistic prospect for the LibDems before recent shocking events. While we use the same word for them, yes: an alliance where you wear almost half the pants, can shut it down and draw forth populist anarchy at will, and are still coming on with a bullet at a shellshocked establishment is a very different thing from sitting politely and writing press releases for one of the Big Two. If it's a lie, it's so dilute and accidental I'm happy to forgive it.

  13. Tom Feilding Says:

    There are times when people have to go against what they have previously said/promised. Circumstances change.

  14. What circumstances would have changed? The only time he would ever be asked to enter a coalition was when the Lib Dems held the balance of power in a hung parliament. So that must have been the scenario he was referring to in 2008, and it's exactly the same as the scenario we had last week.

  15. "If it's a lie, it's so dilute and accidental"
    How on Earth is saying "I will never join a coalition", then joining a coalition, "dilute and accidental"? Did he mean to say "milk and two sugars, please", but it just came out wrong?

  16. No, you're wrong.  Your cynical interpretation can't possibly be right, because it's a Lib Dem who said it, do you see? So it's completely different.  Completely.
    Nick wouldn't turn out to be full of shit.  Nick's not like the others.  Nick loves me.  I agree with Nick.  I agree with Nick.  I agree with Nick.  I agree with Nick.

  17. When I saw him speak in Oxford, in the week before the election, he was asked the question about forming a coalition government, albeit with Gordon Brown. He said that it would be "arrogant" to assume that such an option would be on the cards, and went on to say that FPTP was "old politics" and spoke of PR. I'll dig out some notes I made. 
    In November 2008, he said he would side with a Tory government, if push came to shove, in a piece by the Telegraph.

  18. Top quality sleuthing! Have edited that in, but it's an odd piece, containing no actual quotes. I wonder if anyone else reported it?

    Interesting that you chose not to highlight the next couple of lines, in which he adds a "but".  He says he wants a new pluralistic type of government.
    Will I ever join a Conservative government?  No.
    Will I ever join a Labour government?  No.
    I will never allow the Liberal Democrats to be a mere annex to another party's agenda.
    But am I interested in building a new type of government? Yes.
    Based on pluralism instead of one party rule? Yes.
    A new system, that empowers people not parties? Yes.

  20. And do we have such a thing? No, we don't. We have a bog-standard Con-Lib coalition, with a handful of minor Cabinet posts going to Lib Dems and the Tories agreeing to implement Lib Dem manifesto proposals which they were largely going to implement anyway, ie abandoning ID cards.
    "Pluralism" is a pretty meaningless term in relation to government anyway, but we certainly don't have any "new type" of government ruling us now. We've got a Conservative government that's made a few minor concessions to get a working majority.

    So you don't believe a word of this then?

  22. The Nixon Administration Says:

    I wouldn't go that far.  I mean, I thought this:
    Mr Clegg, who was heckled by protesters as he arrived at City and Islington College to give his speech, did not give a date for the referendum on electoral reform which the government is promising or its "precise wording".
    He also acknowledged that the Lib Dems and Conservatives would not be "united" on the issue and would campaign for different outcomes.
    was quite convincing.

  23. James T Says:

    This quote does appear to be inconsistent with his current position, but also, if he really did mean to rule out the prospect of any involvement in coalition with either party, it seems rather inconsistent with the stance he's always taken on PR, which would almost inevitably involve exactly that.
    On the more general point, I don't really understand why some LibDems are so against the coalition.  It may not be totally ideal but it surely gives more opportunities to push a LibDem agenda than confidence and supply?

  24. I call the stuff in the BBC story a government passing laws, which is what governments always do. It's not a new type of anything.

  25. What was he meant to do though? I mean, this is a situation that was hard to forsee.
    The fact that Lab/Lib wouldn't be a majority, that the Lib Dems would actually lose seats… I mean… what was Clegg meant to do?
    A deal with Labour was impossible due to some Labour MPs.
    Remaining independent would mean a Tory minority government and another election within the year, where the Lib Dems would lose seats due to lack of money and people going back to two-party politics to avoid this happening again.
    Just backing up the Tories on no-confidence votes would basically give all the downsides of the current situation (they'd been seen as Tory lapdogs, and when the Tories bought in the unpopular cuts it'd be "the only reason we can't get them out is the Lib Dems" everywhere).
    It was a shit situation for Clegg, but he did what he could. Now I can't argue with the facts, but the simple thing is he changed his mind given the utterly bizarre circumstances. Clegg's 'mistake' was making such a pronouncement in the first place. But.
    In quite a few interviews pre-election Gordon Brown was being quite annoying as he was being asked if he would raise VAT. His response "we have no plans to raise VAT" – "so can you guarantee there won't be a rise?" "we have no plans to raise VAT" –  "but you can't guarantee it" – "well no, as we don't know for sure what will happen, but we have no plans to do so". It's more honest yes, but its' just skirting around the issue, purely because Brown didn't want to be in Clegg's position, where it turns out raising VAT is the best or only option, and he didn't want to be crucified by the media later on for saying he wouldn't do it.

    I'd rather they were just honest in the first place and admit they got it wrong later, frankly.
    Because what you're basically lobbying for here is for Clegg to be a bloody politician and avoid answering the "will you ever join a coalition" question altogether.

  26. Well, no. He could have answered it honestly, by saying "Obviously we want to ideally be in government by ourselves, but given the bias of FPTP it's hard to imagine a situation in which the Lib Dems could achieve any of our goals without being in a coalition, at least until we secured electoral reform."
    Plus, of course, it was a leader's speech he was giving. Nobody was actually asking him any questions, so he didn't have to say anything he didn't want to.

  27. I think, after so much emotional investment, people are so desperate to believe in their new messiah Nick that they're willing to do the most amazing mental gymnastics and truth stretching in order to bend the world into whatever shape is needed to keep him looking good and honest instead simply seeing him as a crooked weasel like most in Westminster. It'll be like a battered wife convincing herself that her husband really does still love him and he didn't really mean to knock her teeth out. I fully expect people to make up excuses for him with every fault revealed, doing the spin doctor's job, rather than think otherwise. Even if he fucked and killed a baby there would be some who would probably claim it was an accident or the baby had it coming somehow. He's obviously another politician who will say whatever he thinks you want to hear and then say something else to the next crowd, just to keep them happy (and get their votes). It's not the first time and it won't be the last time he and his party have lied, flip-flopped or generally acted like self-serving rogues.
    Nick and the Liberal Liars shouldn't be given a free ride any more than Labour and Conservative should.

  28. Have you read the full coalition statement?

    It’s nothing short of brilliant, for the population. The WOS blog is incredibly biased – it is Stuarts blog after all so that’s fair enough. Really though, if they actually carry out even half of their plans, this government will be a shining beacon of virtue compared to the past 13 years, and before.

    Of course if/when we get proportional representation, coalitions will become the norm. Best get used to compromises, and pre-election showboating being shot down with practicality as the dust settles – election after election. I would stress I’m in favour of PR still though, I’ve come to the opinion that 1 party have a commanding majority is not in the public interest.

    In case anyone was wondering, I actually voted for a Libertarian independant, and I’m more than happy with the outcome now I’ve seen the proposed changes to government.

  29. I haven't actually criticised the coalition agreement at all, and I've also said that Clegg made the best of the two choices available to him after Labour idiots sabotaged any chance of a centre-left deal.

  30. One of the "proportional representation" options that was being considered by this coalition was actually likely to make things worse as the two main parties would gather more seats instead of less and anything else PR-wise still has to go through parliament. Not likely, really. It is easy to make promises if you don't have to follow through.
    Shining beacon, my arse. They think the sun shines out of their own anyway and its where most their promises come from (and they'll end up heading the same way as the usual products of that region).

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