Tuesday, May 11, 2010

From Knave to Kingmaker: The Fable Of Nick Clegg

The past month has been a whirlwind in British politics; most of all, is the extraordinary rise of Nick Clegg (also known as Nicholas Van Den Wall Bake-Clegg).

Here's a man who, as leader of the Liberal Democrats, was a comparative nobody until the election debates: the guy that no-one (least of all, the media) took seriously, until he actually was given equal respect as the others. And then he blew them away.

That said, in the elections themselves, the momentum all came to nought: except that, lucky for him, the two main parties remained in electoral deadlock, with neither in power. And then did Nick seize the opportunity.

As the Conservatives were the biggest party, he realised that it would make political sense to first make overtures to the Conservatives, regardless of his true feelings for them. Secretly, him and other Lib Dems knew that too much divided them from the Conservatives than united them.
So official discussions got under way.

Nick's dream was electoral reform, which he knew the Conservatives opposed. So, secret meetings started with the defeated Labour party. Then a group of pro-reform supporters massed outside his HQ, and he dealt with them by taking them like a horse under his reins, urging them to continue their (and his) campaign, adding pressure on the stubborn Conservatives.

It seemed the "discussions" were going well, at least to the Conservatives eyes. As the largest party, surely power was theirs alone? But, no: Nick Clegg and his disciples, though being the smallest group, were the strongest. The power was in the weak; the strength was sapping from the strong.

Then, the Labour PM resigned, and at once the Conservatives knew they were being tricked. For the PM's demise was Nick Clegg's condition to alliance with Labour. Labour were aiding the Lib Dems in a pincer movement to squeeze the stronger Conservatives; and it worked. The Conservatives howled in disbelief; how could this happen? How could a man who was but a knave a month ago, and humbled in elections less than a week before, through his careful planning, bring down the PM and humiliate the other heirs apparent?

For Nick Clegg was no knave: he was not, even, a typical "Englishman" at all: with a Spanish wife, a Dutch mother, half-Russian father, with a Russian aristocrat for a grandmother, no, he was not normal at all. Nick Clegg, the man with the name that some wouldn't even take seriously, could hide behind this weird persona. If he was a geek, then he was just waiting for the right opportunity to flourish. And it had come.

This was the time for the dispossessed from politics to make their mark and bring about their quiet revolution. And the best part was, the other main rivals, Labour and the Conservatives, had convinced themselves that this was the only option for survival. So, through supporting reform, they would freely hand their own political demise to the Lib Dems on a plate.

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