Byline: Stephen Glover
AS ONE savage critic said, the trouble with nick Clegg is that he is 'a calamity'. a calamity who is always changing his mind. 'We've seen a series of flip-flops from nick.'
According to this person, these flipflops included failing to establish clear policies on nuclear weapons, aspects of running schools and the nHS. He suggested that Mr Clegg was 'attempting to face both ways'.
Who was this critic? a member of the Labour Party, perhaps? or a hostile newspaper columnist? no. These judgments were made by Mr Clegg's Lib Dem, and now Cabinet, colleague Chris Huhne during the Lib Dem leadership contest in December 2007. Mr Huhne distanced himself from the phrase 'Calamity Clegg', but it was certainly used by members of his campaign team.
Calamity Clegg. It is not a very reassuring description of our Deputy Prime Minister, who is supposedly running the country during David Cameron's two-week holiday in Cornwall, and perhaps for a few days when his wife Samantha has her baby, due next month. Was Mr Huhne going over the top? as the Coalition Government celebrates 100 days in power, there is good reason to believe he was bang on the money.
I accept, of course, that as the junior partner in the Coalition Mr Clegg has been dealt a very tricky hand of cards. He is the second most important member of a Government many of whose policies are alarming Lib Dem grass roots. but you can play a difficult hand well or you can play it badly. The Deputy Prime Minister is in danger of making a fool of himself.
Three times since he was handed the keys to no 10 by Mr Cameron on Monday, Mr Clegg has stuck his foot in it, imperilling the unity of the Coalition by gabbling his personal views. Yesterday, he took a swipe at the middle classes when he suggested that sending more people to university had not done anything for social mobility because most of the extra places had been filled by middle-class students.
On Tuesday, Mr Clegg appeared to undermine the Government's proposal to introduce a cap on non-Eu immigrants when he said he didn't think there was 'any magic number'. If he was not trying to disown the official line, he certainly succeeded in giving people the impression that he was.
He also aggravated Tory MPs by openly questioning whether a replacement for the Trident nuclear deterrent is needed 'in full', and by saying that people on low incomes and benefits would struggle to understand such expense. under understand such expense. under the Coalition agreement, Lib Dems are allowed 'to make the case for alternatives', so Mr Clegg was strictly speaking acting within the rules. but it was hardly statesmanlike for him to criticise Government policy when he is supposed to be, in his own words, 'holding the fort'.
NEARLY a month ago the Deputy Prime Minister showed something of the same immaturity, even petulance, in describing the invasion of Iraq as 'illegal' when standing in for Mr Cameron at Prime Minister's Question Time. I happen to believe he may have been correct, but that is not the point. a statement by the acting leader of government that the war was 'illegal' might strengthen a case brought against britain in an international court. again, not very statesmanlike.
Mr Clegg is a blabbermouth. One good example was his vulgar and childish boast in a magazine interview that he had slept with 'no more than 30' women. In government, he continues to say what he believes at one particularly moment without weighing the …