Tag Archives: Liberal Democrats

Apologies: The Good, The Bad and The Tuneful

22 Sep

Apologies should be rather simple affairs. A good apology needs to do three things:

  • be genuine
  • admit responsibility
  • indicate a willingness to change

At this point, you’re probably with me. You’re probably thinking of all the times you’ve been wronged and how you deserved an apology which embraces the three concepts outlined above. However, just hold up there, Nelly. Let’s talk about you for a second here. When was the last time you gave a real apology? When you said sorry for bumping into that old man on the bus, were you genuinely remorseful? I actually saw you and could tell that you didn’t mean it at all. So maybe you shouldn’t get up on your high horse and actually listen and learn.

Nick Clegg should have listened and learned as well. By now you have seen/read about/ridiculed/sung along with his recent apology video.

You know I have a bit of a soft spot for old Cleggers—I can’t help it, I tend to take pity of the pathetic and lonely in our society. But if he was intending to win back supporters with a heartfelt mea culpa, he failed miserably. Let’s analyse!

We made a promise before the election that we would vote against any rise in fees under any circumstances. But that was a mistake. It was a pledge made with the best of intentions, but we shouldn’t have made a promise we weren’t absolutely sure we could deliver. I shouldn’t have committed to a policy that was so expensive when there was no money around, not least when the most likely way we’d end up in government was in coalition with Labor or the Conservatives who were both committed to put fees up. I know that we fought to get the best policy we could in those circumstances, but I also realise that isn’t the point. There’s no easy way to say this: we made a pledge, we didn’t stick to it, and for that, I am sorry. When you’ve made a mistake, you should apologise. But more important, most important of all, you’ve got to learn from your mistakes. And that’s what we will do. I will never again make a pledge unless as a party, we are absolutely clear about how we can keep it.

Here’s why it’s crap:

Is it genuine?
No, I don’t believe it to be. Why not? Because I don’t believe what Nick Clegg says anymore. Sorry, liars, but this is what happens when you lie. It’s hard for others to believe anything you say after you prove that you say things that aren’t true.

Does he admit responsibility?
No. He blames it on his innocence, his confusion about how the government machine works. “There was no money around”? Really? There was enough money for seventy four launches of the Big Society, there was enough money for loads of bullshit, because that’s how government works. Everyone—even the Lib Dems—knows that’s how government works.

Also, by claiming “the most likely way we’d end up in government was in coalition,” Clegg is saying the Liberal Democrats never had a chance. That wasn’t what he was saying before the election, and it’s not what people believed after the debates. I know it’s hard to imagine now, but many people voted for the Lib Dems because they wanted Nick Clegg to be prime minister. For him to now say, ‘we didn’t know how hard government is, the big boy rules are way tougher than we thought,’ well, that’s just poor, Nick.

Does it indicate a willingness to change?
No, even though he wanted it to. If we look closely at the “learn from your mistakes” section, we see that what he’s really saying is that he won’t make pledges anymore unless he’s sure he can keep them. But nothing in politics is ever guaranteed. What he should have said is in future he will keep his promises.

As I’ve said before, it’s wisest to avoid having to apologise by not fucking up in the first place. But we’re all humans and humans do mistakes. It’s never easy to make a public apology—from Jimmy Swaggart’s to David Letterman’s—it’s a difficult act to pull off. Perhaps Nick Clegg should have studied the master of the political apology: Richard Nixon.

It’s clearly genuine as the regret is written all over his face. By repeating “I let down,” he shows he is taking full responsibility for his mistake. And was he willing to change? Well, he never tried to cover up any break-ins ever again. In fact, in 1982, when he had to bust out his car window because he’d locked the keys inside, he took out a full page ad in the New York Times detailing the entire event. Nixon’s apology changed his legacy forever. Did you hear those tributes that poured in after he died? People were able to forget about his criminal actions, the thousands of people killed by his military decisions, and the tons of other damage he did to American society and democracy. The flags were at half mast for a whole month, for Christ’s sake!

That could have been you, Nick!

Students—You Gotta Love And/Or Hate ‘Em

14 Nov

I always find myself in a bit of a sticky situation when discussing students and their financial woes, because I grew up in America, where they do everything bigger, including their student debt. This year there are more than 100 higher ed institutions in the US charging over $50,000 a year for tuition, fees and room and board (for those of you who failed your maths O-levels, that’s about £31,000). Fees vary, obviously, and also increase for out-of-state students. This total does not even factor in the required books and other supplies, VD treatment, bail money or legal fees for when students take professors to court for not giving them the grades they wanted. We’re talking big bucks here, people. Although financial aid and loans are available, the price is so high that a deal with the devil is often the only option. This explains why most US university students are soulless twats.

But English higher education has never been run in this way, so far be it from me to make a comment—as you know, I never speak on things on which I am not an expert on.

However, the protest raised one issue that affects all of us, and that is the issue of hypocrisy. Let’s take a hypothetical situation. Let’s say you have a country where three major political parties win most of the elections. Let’s say the third party, while admittedly holding far fewer seats than the other two, represents the possibility of change to much of the electorate: a belief that just maybe we could have a party in power whose policies were, I don’t know, let’s say, more “liberal” than the status quo of the two other parties, who seem to grow more and more like each other each year. Then through some odd twist of fate, the leader of that third party (just to keep the story simple I’ll give this character the name “Nick”), through some bizarre aligning of the stars, a global financial disaster and the scary smile of the incumbent, Nick somehow actually becomes Deputy Prime Minister. Hurrah! say the electorate, we are going to finally have a little bit of influence on the way things are run. This man, this Nick, he made promises—maybe even signed pledges—that if he were ever in power, he’d do right by us.

Then he didn’t.

Maybe we’d believe that this hypothetical Nick wanted to stop certain policies but just got outvoted. Maybe he would say, I have not abandoned my principles—I just don’t have enough power to overrule.

But imagine he didn’t say that. Imagine instead that he said, on reflection, he wasn’t being careful when he made the pledge, that now he knows he should have been promising the exact opposite of what he pledged. In fact, now that the older boys in the blue ties have explained everything to him, he actually reckons their ideas are more progressive than his party’s.

Now in my little story, I imagine quite a few of us would feel pretty cross at our Nick. Maybe cross enough even to, hypothetically of course, bust out a few windows and throw a few things around. It wouldn’t fix things and would probably lead to our arrests, but the anger itself would not be an inappropriate response.

Tens of thousands of students showing up at Millbank Tower Wednesday has had two important and hopefully long-lasting effects: 1. it proved that the younger generation is not apathetic and will speak up against hypocrisy and 2. because so many students were otherwise occupied, downloads of that lady’s gaga music dipped drastically. Both of these can only be good things.

The King Maker and The Game Changer

10 May

Gordon Brown pulled a dastardly trick today by announcing he’s standing down. Must have felt good (in a way) to show he still makes a difference (in a way).

Meanwhile Clegg is still whoring it up between the two parties. “Things are going well with Posh Boy,” he coyly whispers, “But wouldn’t someone from the other side like a little go?” Really! The Tories are promising AV (when I was in high school, AV meant the Audio-Visual Club, therefore my previous analogy of Clegg being the nerd holds true) while Labour’s agreed to chuck their leader. My oh my, Nicholas. Aren’t we the big I am?

Although it’s clearly giving him a rise in the trouser department, Clegg is ultimately doing the right thing and, more importantly, the thing he said he’d do. He said he’d talk first to the team who won the most, which he did, and now he’s talking to the other. We certainly can’t fault a man who keeps his promises (though why one of those promises has to do with pornography, I’m still unsure).

What’s more of a concern is which one of those twats in the Labour Party is going to become leader. Surely, it mustn’t be the little squirrel woman (in addition to her obvious shortcomings, she rides a motorbike for goodness sake!). I can’t picture Banana Boy as leader. Could we trust a woman with 9 points on her license to drive our nation forward? And Balls. No, not Balls. Balls should be lucky he’s got as far as he has with a name like that. No country, not even those with the most generous of obscenity laws, is going to be led by a man names Balls. (And lest you think I’m being petty, please recall that’s he made a right Balls-up with schools. Sure, it’s only kids, but do you want him doing something similar to people who really matter?)

So I suppose we’re still at the Waiting Game. Each and every party said they wanted change. It looks as though change it will be.

Election Day 2010—As It Happens

6 May

7.10:  As a devoted citizen of Great Britain, not only did I submit my postal vote in plenty of time to be counted, I also went down to the polling station at the parish council to vote there, just to make sure.

8.30: Bumped into a second cousin, twice removed, of Lord Sutch at the flower shop…he’s got his fingers crossed, a mouse in his pocket and a very, very large rosette on his waistcoat.

9.33: Yesterday Nick Clegg tripped over a clump of grass while on walkabout at Royal Eastbourne Golf Club and muttered “Divot,” unaware his mic was still on. Was the scandal too late in the day to affect voters?

10.42: Despite the fact that I’ve not had it set this morning, my hair is looking rather fetching.

11.10: Jodie Marsh announces she’s hoping for a well hung parliament.

12.08: Could have sworn I heard a crack in the voice of our local radio DJ at the top of the hour, as he said the Prime Minister’s name. It was like a goodbye between lovers. I made sure to avert my eyes from the wireless, to show respect for his sorrow.

13.58: WE HAVE A WINNER! Kevin Pieterson is the man in power as England defeat Pakistan.

14.21: You mustn’t spoil your ballot paper—if it’s a close call, they award extra credit for neatness.

15.03: Crisis for the BNP. Hoping to get his party’s webpage back in its full glory, Nick Griffin spends the last twenty four hours trying to do a Downfall parody meme for the election, but cannot post it. He does not see the irony.

16.21: Rarely do we know in advance that a day is going to be historic. Today is one of those days. Here’s a thrifty tidbit for you: buy an issue of each of the major papers and seal them in plastic. In the future, you will be able to sell these on eBay for a good £2.50 each. Free money!

17.43: Cameron claims Obama’s support before realizing that the “slick” the President is working so hard to get sorted doesn’t refer to him.

18.15: Shock news…Charles Kennedy can’t take the pressure, steps down and has, in the last half hour, developed a drinking problem.

19.47: If you’ve not voted yet, get your little bottoms into gear. As soon as you’re behind the curtains, read each of the parties’ names carefully (sometimes they do try to trick you).

20.19: Christopher’s heading over here shortly to accompany me for the election results. It’s a potluck event. I’m providing cheese, crackers, biscuits, and other nibbles. Christopher’s bringing Bacardi Breezers.

21.14: If Nick Griffin is standing in Barking, shouldn’t Cameron represent Cockermouth, Brown Pity Me, and Clegg Lickey End?

22.00 Anyone who’s been turned away from the polling booth, please remember that my ballot box is accessible twenty four hours a day.

23.44: They’ll keep the red flag flying here (in Sunderland).

0.28: I do hereby declare that Joan Collins should keep her trap shut.

1.01: My first experience with a Swing–O–Meter was in my early twenties at a rather unorthodox job interview. It was measuring something slightly different than the one is tonight (though my result was highly un-Conservative).

1.34: Gordon Brown finally genuinely smiled. A genuine one is much less scary. Congratulations, Mister Prime Minister.

1.46: Freedom for Tooting!

2.21: Oh, Lembit. How we’ll miss your quirky ideas and gal pals.

2.32: Just because the UK followed the US style of televised debates doesn’t mean you needed to go whole hog and introduce American dodgy scandals at the polls. My word, there are already Facebook groups set up to protest!

3.01: Well done to the Monster Raving Loonies for giving Cameron a real run for his money. I’ve no doubt you fought as hard and as determinedly as you could. I’m sure your constituency is proud.

4.37: Porn destroys lives—ask Jacqui Smith.

4.52: Balls.

5.59: I can’t believe Nick Griffin’s reaction. I was surprised when he got the tears in his eyes, but when he fell down, went foetal and began rocking like a baby, I just about shit myself.

6.44: I’m cross with Christopher. I think he’s eaten too many biscuits. He’s just spent quite a bit of time moaning on the floor, distracting me from the lovely Nick Clegg’s results. I knew Jaffa Cakes were a bad idea. I’ve always said they’re not real biscuits; now perhaps Christopher will accept that I’m right.

7.08: Now I’m feeling a bit funny in the tummy. I didn’t have any Jaffa Cakes, mind—I think it’s just the feeling I get when I hear Clegg described as the “king maker.”

7.47: I’ve put Christopher to bed, but he can’t seem to settle. I’m going to go sit with him for a bit. Gordon, don’t stand down while I’m gone.