Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Media Watch: Is Clegg fit to speak for the Tories?

The last PMQs before the recess was a typically raucous event, where the House of Commons transforms into an arena where political debate is not forthcoming, and instead plays host to slanging matches and jeers from opposing benches. The ringleaders in today's spectacle were Nick Clegg and Jack Straw.

Two newcomers to the dispatch box, and the media did not fail to point out that Nick Clegg was the first Liberal to do so since the 1920s. This was his opportunity. Lest we forget that he wasn’t free to speak solely as a man of his party. He had to defend a coalition, whose policies are so far dominated by the Conservative Party.

Cue the Tory-leaning press to back-slap Nick Clegg on a wonderful performance. The Daily Telegraph’s lead writer David Hughes wrote a short blog after PMQs in which he attacked not only Jack Straw, but the Speaker John Bercow and dismissed the Sheffield Forgemasters funding row as an issue “about which few have heard, and even fewer care”. I think even Nick Clegg would disagree with you on this one.

The tide could be turning, as cracks showed and slip-ups were made. Nick Clegg made a number of comments that have upset some Conservative MPs. By calling the Iraq war “an illegal invasion” and suggesting that child detention at Yarl’s Wood detention centre would end, he just couldn’t help slipping back into his old self. Number 10 tried to play it down by claiming he was expressing his individual view, but this was a told-you-so urge from a Liberal Democrat leader, momentarily forgetting he’s locked in a coalition with his illegal-war supporting Conservative colleagues.

David Hughes may come to regret his concluding sentence about Nick Clegg: “Cameron should watch his back”.

1 comment:

Dan @ Eyes on Power said...

I think it’s a major copout to say that Clegg was talking in a personal capacity. PMQs is supposedly the opportunity to hold the government to account. If this isn’t the case, then it’s pointless. The next time Cameron’s away, I’m more than happy to step-in and speak in a personal capacity.

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