Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Monday, 19 April 2010

Fisking Boris Johnson on Clegg

Boris Johnson has a fascinating article in the Telegraph today. Fascinating not because it's a well thought out or argued piece (as Boris is well capable of), but because it is a hopelessly muddled and poorly constructed transparent attack piece. The sense of entitlement just drips off the page. I can only assume it is "written for the troops" to keep up their morale because I am sure this will do little to persuade the waverers as indeed a brief glance at the comments below it from the readers will make clear.

I have responded to some of his points below:

It must have been a couple of years ago that I was having dinner with the great Max Hastings, former editor of this paper, and he was being so gloomy about Conservative prospects that I scented a financial opportunity. Tell you what, I said, let’s have a bet. A thousand pounds says the Tories will win the next election. How about that?

Way to get the "party of the average person" vote Boris. You just casually bet what for many people would be several months worth of disposable income (after bills etc.) and think that people will be impressed by that? All you're doing is underlining how different the world that you and your fellow Tories move in is compared to most people. 18 days outside of a general election. Well done!

...My bet remains quite safe. I am certain that the Tories will win, and that the current fantasy of a Liberal Democrat resurgence is the biggest load of media-driven nonsense since the funeral of Diana.

Watching that debate, I had the clear impression that Cameron aced every question. His answers were clear, concise and knowledgeable, and in my focus group of 12- to 16-year-olds he was the overwhelming winner. “David Cameron knows more than the others,” said the 12-year-old, “and everything he says is true!”

This is why it is notoriously risky to try and judge how well someone did by your own partisan standards. I thought Clegg did very well on the night but it was only when the polls and commentators started to confirm this that it became clear this view is widely shared. Boris, you are biased and a room full of impressionable 12 - 16 year olds (I am not clear what demographic they are chosen from either) who doubtless wanted to impress the powerful Mayor of London who was asking them for their opinion is hopeless as a "focus group" as well.

Gordon Brown seemed stale and deeply unconvincing in his core assertion, that it was necessary to keep wasting exactly the same amount of money in order not to stall the recovery.

As for Clegg, I remember thinking that it was indeed a historic debate – the moment when the idea of a third force in British politics finally shrivelled under the Manchester TV lights. He was by far the worst, with many of his answers seeming to be semi-masticated versions of something Cameron had already said. And so you can imagine my amazement when those polls started to come in, and the news that the punters overwhelmingly scored it for Cleggie. It was one of those times when there seems to be only one solution to the problems of British politics, and that is to dissolve the electorate and summon a new one.

Yes, you are amazed because you are biased and cannot believe that people would think anything other than your boy done good. But they do. Cameron was pretty unimpressive Boris. "I once met a black man..." type stories, hopeless attempts to skewer Clegg which just left him able to set out more detail for our policies and a real inability to connect with the audience were the impression many were left with. I realise you are being tongue in cheek with your "dissolve the electorate" comment but is that really the right joke to make just over two weeks out from a General Election telling the voters that they are wrong? Let's see how this goes down shall we?

What has happened to us all, when serious papers can start raving about “Prime Minister Clegg”? Has someone put something in the water supply? Has some sulphur yellow cloud descended imperceptibly from Iceland and addled our brains
These are Lib Dems we are talking about!

How DARE these oiks get above their station like this!?

They say anything to anyone. They are not so much two-faced as positively polycephalous. They go around every university campus promising to abolish “Labour’s unfair tuition fees” – while dear Cleggie tells his party conference that this policy, this cardinal Lib Dem policy, would cost £12 billion and that the country can’t afford it.

Er, the party is committed to this policy in principle but the finances are in such a mess that we cannot afford to do it at the moment. You know, like the tax cuts that your party would like to implement but cannot for the same reason (well apart from the tax cuts for millionaires of course that you are still managing to fund). We are being sensible and pragmatic about what can be afforded whilst being clear as to what we would like to do and the principles underpinning our approach. You would attack us for being unrealistic if we did anything else.

In the north of England you will find plenty of Lib Dem literature extolling their “mansion tax”, a proposal on which they remain deafeningly silent in places like Richmond and Kingston, where it would mean a vast new tax on people who happen to live in overvalued houses.

OMFG!!!!11 A political party targeting its messages!? How very dare we? Not something of course that the Tories would ever do now is it?

Everybody treats Vince Cable as a semi-holy Mahatma Gandhi of British politics, because he is supposed in some way to have anticipated the financial crisis. Actually his most notable recommendation before the crisis was that Britain should join the euro – a move that would gravely have worsened our current position by leaving us in a Greek-style straitjacket.

No Boris, his most notable recommendations were that borrowing was spiralling out of control and the banks were making stupid mistakes which would all end in tears. You know, like what actually ended up happening because of the policies of the government that the Tories stood on the sidelines and cheered for. That's why people trust Vince most on the economy rather than Darling or Osborne.

What crouton of substance did Clegg offer last Thursday, in the opaque minestrone of waffle? He wants to get rid of Trident. Great! So Lib Dem foreign policy means voluntarily resigning from the UN Security Council, abandoning all pretensions to world influence, and sub-contracting our nuclear deterrent to France!

The policy is just to say no to a "like for like" replacement of Trident which we think is not suitable for the threats we now face. We are not advocating unilaterally disarming but instead are committed to a multi-lateral approach. You know, like Barack Obama has just announced in the US.

They are a bunch of euro-loving road-hump fetishists who are attempting like some defective vacuum cleaner to suck and blow at the same time; and the worst of it is that if you do vote Lib Dem in the demented belief that there could ever be such a thing as a Lib Dem government, you won’t get Prime Minister Clegg. You’ll get Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for five more holepunch-hurling years, because the Lib Dems almost always vote with Labour, and in my years in Parliament I can’t remember a single moment when they opposed a Labour measure to expand state spending or state control.

The Lib Dems almost always vote with Labour!? Absolute rubbish which a brief glance at voting records will make clear. How about 90 days detention without trial, 42 days detention without trial, ID cards, Digital Economy Bill (which the Tories broadly supported), Extradition Act 2003, DNA Database, Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, Trial without Jury etc. etc. etc. I could literally go on for hours.

I can’t think of anything worse for this country than some great ghastly soggy Lib-Lab coalition, dripping with piety and political correctness and unable to take the decisions we need for fear of offending the vast hordes of public sector special interest groups they collectively represent.

When have we said that we would form a coalition with Labour? And we have no special interest groups unlike the Tories funded by big business and multi-billionaires to whom they are beholden or Labour funded by the Unions.

That is why the current madness cannot last. The Lib Dems are everywhere today, like the orange spores of an exploded puffball. Next week they will be gone with the wind. Clegg is the beneficiary of cunning Labour spin, bigging up the third party in order to take the shine off the Tories. But when people understand that a vote for Clegg is a vote for Brown, they will stay their hands, and they will see that it is only by voting Tory that they can give this country the change it needs. That is still my prediction, and if Max disagrees, we can always increase the stake.

No Boris. A vote for Clegg is a vote for Clegg. The party is now in the lead in multiple polls. This tired old argument that "a vote for the Lib Dems is a wasted vote" or really a vote for someone else is falling apart. People have tumbled yours and the Labour party's anti-democratic game.

If people want real change they should vote for us and that message is now getting through. You can bluster and stamp your feet all you like that the electorate is not behaving as you decree they should. In the meantime we will go on spelling out our policies and explaining how we can help people with their lives.

The fact that one of the Tories' big hitters such as yourself is willing to devote an entire column to attacking us in this way just demonstrates how rattled you are by how the election campaign is going.


The Great Simpleton said...

You should take it as a complement, the attack dogs are out because they see you as a threat. Anyway, as Oscar Wilde said: "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

Stu said...

Conservative politician and renowned provocateur backs Conservatives; believes Conservatives will win.

Liberal Democrat blogger disagrees; believes Lib Dems should win.

World dies of shock at this momentous and unprecedented turn of events.

Personally, I found Boris's article an entertaining read, peppered with his trademark humour. Why you feel it requires this kind of mountains-from-molehills anger in retaliation is a genuine mystery to me.

Dioclese said...

I guess from your blog you are probably LibDem biased? Having said that, you make your points very well and I agree with everything you have said.

Re Vince Cable, I have always said he would make the best chancellor.

What the hell Boris is thinking of writing such arrant ranting tripe is beyond me! Have the Tories not yet worked out that the quickest way to lose this election is to keep slagging off the opposition?

When are we going to see some actually policy statements from the Labour and Conservative parties?

See my blog at where I am genuiniely asking for advise on how to vote this time round.