Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Monday, 8 August 2011

Where's Cleggy?

Before I start this post properly, I know politicians can't really win. If they take regular holidays they are swanning off leaving the country in the lurch and if they don't they're workaholics out of touch with ordinary people.

However that aside I was a little surprised to hear on the news on Friday that David Cameron, Nick Clegg and George Osborne were all on holiday at the same time. Apparently William Hague was the most senior cabinet minister still in the country and he was taking charge of the initial response to the current turmoil in the financial markets.

That strikes me as a little bit odd. Nick Clegg is the Deputy Prime Minister. His role includes deputising for the Prime Minister when he is not around, e.g. on holiday. So why did Cameron and Clegg schedule their holidays for the same time? Surely they could have divvied it up so that one of them was around in the country and available during the summer at any one time?

Clegg has made it almost to the top. He is second in command of the government, a position that his predecessors as Lib Dem and Liberal leaders would have given their eye teeth for. And given the position of the third party, second in command is the best we are going to get for a very long time. Yet when Clegg has the opportunity to fulfill one of his primary duties in this role, standing in for the Prime Minister, he has chosen not to do it.

As a Lib Dem I find this quite frustrating. For years we have been told that our party cannot be trusted with the levers of power and now when our leader has the chance to do just that and show those naysayers they are wrong he decides to go on holiday. And this is not the first time it has happened. Back in February he was quoted as having "forgotten" that he was in charge of the country whilst Cameron was abroad and that he was going to head off on holiday at the end of the week so "someone else would have to do it" then. I did not like the casual implication of that comment then and I like even less the pattern that seems to be emerging.

I know that people, especially senior politicians are never fully out of touch these days but the fact that Hague was chairing meetings in London last week demonstrates that there are some things that require a physical presence, especially when there is a crisis.

I hope that next time the PM and his deputy are planning their time away from the country, a little more thought is put into coordinating it.

This post was originally published on Dale & Co.

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