Why Clegg and Cameron did well: populism and values


8:30 am - April 16th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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Nick Clegg is certainly the man of the moment in Westminster. All those journalists and politicians snubbing their noses up at the Libdems won’t do so lightly again for sure.

But how exactly did Clegg do so well? He was good on some policy: notably attacking both parties on Trident, on the need for a different approach to law & order, and… some other fluffy stuff that I can’t remember…

And that’s the point isn’t it? By today, most people who would have watched that debate last night would have forgotten 95% of the policies they talked about. It was excellent political theatre, and threw up a few laughs, but we’re not sitting here discussing the policy implications of what they said – we want to know how the voters reacted. And why.

Populism
This was Clegg’s strongest card. He remembered the names of all those who asked questions. He addressed them directly. He didn’t use flowery language.

But most importantly he was constantly exasperated. He pitched himself as being against the other squabbling parties who never reached any consensus.

He berated both of them for saying one thing and doing another (on electoral reform and cleaning up politics), or not doing them at all. At times he went into full drama-mode, showing exaggerated annoyance at ‘typical politics’ of Westminster.

Some may hate it – but Clegg did excellent at playing on the annoyance and exasperation many feel at Westminster politics. He played the underdog. He attacked continuously but in an exasperated sort of way that made the other two look petty.

I think the other smaller parties – especially the Greens could learn a lot from this. Most of the time they lack the ‘fire in the belly’ that Clegg showed last night. The hunger. The sheer annoyance at how things are done. Even if it was partly theatrics – it worked.

Values
I also think Cameron did well in his closing speech. Brown’s speech basically said: ‘stay the course’. Cameron didn’t just say that the Tories had changed (though fairly subtly) – but he went for the I believe in your values line.

That was the only part of the debate that showed a degree of emotional intelligence. People mostly don’t vote on policies (as I keep saying) but on whether they think the politician is like them or understands their concerns/fears/optimism etc.

Cameron is usually distrusted because a large swathe of people feel he’s not like them. He went head on to neutralise that. He tried to assuage their fears that he had different values, and largely I believe it worked.

My feeling is that Brown should have gone more on the offensive on the ‘values’ issue early on. There is still a big percentage of the population who don’t trust the party. That is Cameron’s weak point but Brown failed to exploit it.

By the end I think Cameron pulled it back.

Gordon Brown performed well too. But he didn’t land any killer blows unfortunately.

The question now is: who did Clegg take votes from?

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Golden Gordon

Sunny
These debates will have no influence on the electorate.
If anythig it wiil turn them off.
What will win or lose his election is a giant cock up from either party.
Politics is cyclic,
So my gut feeling is that the Tories will get in because people like a change unless they don’t balls it up, Grayling fashion. Where is he ?
Also the polls will have an influence. Close polls will suit the Tories. A runaway lead for the Tories will suit the other two. People in the street genuinly want coalition.
Also off topic which celebrities are supporting who ?
Caine is coming out for the Tories.
“ALL I ASKED WAS FOR YOU TO BLOW THE BLOODY POOR UP”

2. Alisdair Cameron

we want to know how the voters reacted…

Yes, but I think also that we need to get past the novelty/gimmick factor of the debates, so as to avoid a commentariat/wonk/niche interest sideshow.
Anyone got anthing reliable indicating
a) Viewing figures, including average duration of viewing?
b) Indications of the make-up of viewers,their prior voting intentions and their ‘floatingness’

I have something of a feeling that of those who watched for longer than, say, 10 minutes,many are already politically active,engaged and quite possibly already committed as to where there will place their X. Just a hunch, but if right,it would mean that the televised debates themselves are just not that important. Coverage of them, by the older media channels and the spin (positive and negative) applied might be as significant, if not more so, than what actually happened in the 90 minutes.Note also that the spin machines of both New Labour and new Tory have a good track record in (presumably unintentionally) alienating,patronising and essentially feeding disillusionment with, and estrangement from, Westminster politics.
Performing when nobody’s watching, or at least when few people watching are there to be won over would make this a curious innovation.

“The question now is: who did Clegg take votes from? ”

Listening to a lot of the pos-debate analysis, it seems the consensus is that Clegg, and the LD’s as a whole, will benefit significantly from this. I always thought it would be the case when they announced the debates would be three way, rather than just two way: the exposure alone is a huge fillip to the LD’s, and given the “plague on both your houses” mentality of much of the electorate, it’s bound to help them. I also think Clegg came across pretty well.

The question is how will his performance last night translate into votes? With luck it will help the LD’s fight off the Tories in LD/Tory marginals – Cameron needs to take a good number of these to get a majority. Perhaps the bigger issue is whether an LD “surge” will deprive Labour of seats in marginal LD/Labour seats in the North.

Looks like it is still all to play for. I reckon Clegg should go on attacking the policies and record of both parties, pointing out their dishonesty, and playing to their strengths: announce they will make sure reforming the taxation system, cancellation of Trident and electoral reform are the price of their support in a coalition.

Can he do it? On the strength of last nights debate…. Yes he can!

With luck it will help the LD’s fight off the Tories in LD/Tory marginals – Cameron needs to take a good number of these to get a majority.

I think it’ll help, but from what I’ve gathered, you’re wrong on the latter part; Tory polling apparently indicates this’ll be very difficult, they’re hoping for at most 10 seats from the LDs, and the opinion polls in said marginals seem to indicate they’ll not even manage that, if any at all.

Obviously, I’m slightly biased (I’m from Torbay initially, one of the tightest fights), but the Tories aren’t planning to or needing many seats from LDs. Of course, it might actually help the LDs go take a few more from the Tories, not something I was expecting to happen much (probable exception Solihull which is notionally Tory on boundary changes).

Sunny

People mostly don’t vote on policies (as I keep saying) but on whether they think the politician is like them or understands their concerns/fears/optimism etc.

Still not sure you’re right on this one; yes, it’s a big influence, but what they use to make that judgement is frequently the policies and positions espoused, and how you can explain them and relate them to the person.

The feedback I’m getting in various places is that people are being put off Cameron, despite kinda liking him (I know, but I’m not saying I like him), because “he doesn’t stand for anything” or words to that effect.

Without policies, voters have nothing to judge you on.

Apparently 9.4 million watched the first debate (37% of the total tv audience).

Angus Reid’s survey last night suggests Clegg picked up significant support from “Other parties” and “Undecided” voters.
(http://www.angusreidelections.co.uk/2010/04/debate/)

The feedback I’m getting in various places is that people are being put off Cameron, despite kinda liking him (I know, but I’m not saying I like him), because “he doesn’t stand for anything” or words to that effect.

Without policies, voters have nothing to judge you on.

Which just goes to show the importance of setting the narrative. The Tories have just published about the most detailed manifesto any opposition party – hell probably any party – have ever produced. It’s 130 pages long, and it’s mostly not stuffed with empty cliches. You can reasonably disagree with Tory policies, you can reasonably say that it’s unrealistic and mostly won’t happen, and would be a bad thing if it did. What you can’t reasonably say is that the Tories have no policies.

On the debate itself, I was impressed by Nick Clegg from the beginning. Towards the end, however, I found the ‘those two’ approach beginning to grate. He was using the line in virtually every answer, and though it’s a good subliminal message to put across, I think it lost something by repetition. Everyone else seemed to like it though…

Cameron I thought was good, but there are two things there. The first is that I would think that wouldn’t I? The second is that I was expecting him to be good, and he was. He wasn’t breathtakingly brilliant, he didn’t tear anyone to shreds. He was just…good. He met expectations.

I had very low expectations for Brown, and I’m not sure whether he just met them, or just didn’t. It’s not his format that sort of thing.

Bloody hell – I’m in total agreement with Sunny on this…

I would say this presents a problem for Mr Brown though, as he would be outflanked on populism or emphathising by both the other leaders, and his strength, the determination to do the right thing, is undermined by a reliance on simple ideas such as the amount of money spent being important rather than the outcomes received (for the next debate, expect Mr Cameron to have a snappy and identifiable example of how you can throw money at something with no improvement). It was probably a mistake to quote statistics that had already been ruled incorrect by the ASA also, which may come back to haunt him.

As for Mr Clegg, the problem he has is where to go from here? I doubt Mr Cameron would mind him being the overall winner (I’m another believer in the Liberal Democrats will weaken Labour theory), but he has to maintain the impression, and sensible strategy would suggest both Messrs Brown and Cameron have some anti-Liberal Democrat shots stored up for use in the third debate.

Mr Cameron played it safe – which may be all he needs to do – but be interesting to see how he plays the next two…

First up, Clegg didn’t remember the names, he wrote them down and referred to them off his bit of paper, as did the other do; it looked forced as did all of the ‘we love the people’ bits that all three used; that was politics at its worst: being populist but it is see-through.

The worst bit was seeing how many times the three could fit in the word brave when it came to talking about our military, it was like the Sun was speaking through all three of them.

I think you’ve mis-read it it, what you think is populism, most folk class as politicians being disingenuous, what people want is policy, answers not lining up to say what a great job nurses do or how brave our brave troops are for being so brave in the face of things that are hard to be brave in front of and I did I say they are brave?

The constantly exasperated thing did wear thin after a while, nearly as thin as Brown’s constant smiling/chortling and trying to show that Clegg is on his team and D-Cam standing square centre for much of it, looking off at ’11 o’clock’ as if from the Marlon Brandon school of acting.

I also disagree with GG that they will have no impact, people are curious and by people I mean those who don’t write and frequent political blogs. 37% viewing figures is pretty good, we’ll see where it goes for here.

Oh and can someone please tell D-Cam to stop being so anecdotal (although all three of them kept talking about disabled/young/old/black/unemployed they had met) and recycling inaccurate headlines from the Daily bloody Mail please?

The feedback I am getting from non-politicos on the reason they were impressed with Clegg over the other two is this: he actually answered questions with straight answers. Neither of the other two did.

Not many of the commentariat seem to have noticed this.

(this is Jennie on Mat’s login, BTW)

Anecdotally, I can back up Jennie’s point. My mother-in-law (floating ex-Labour I believe) was taken by Mr Clegg, and there is a similiar feel at work (although the point he has the easier position and can just snipe produces some nods and agreement).

What kind of electorate is won over by one and half hours of a slick manger remembering the names of those who asked the questions? I know: The same arseholes who voted for Blair in 1997 and thought he was an ‘ordinary kind of guy’ and ‘new’.

This whole election debate is tragic in the extreme, only topped by the woeful, ludicrous post-debate commentaries (‘he rustled his notes and therefore lost a few points on the ‘worm’.’).

The real question is, who was most effusive in supporting “the troops“? If I was Samantha/Sarah, I’d be re-considering my position. Then again, for all their pretty words, these guys have no commitment.

People mostly don’t vote on policies (as I keep saying) but on whether they think the politician is like them or understands their concerns/fears/optimism etc.

Well, er…Three cheers for democracy…

People vote for whatever reason they like. That’s the joy of democracy. But can you find a better system?

Heavens, no. But phrased in such terms, Churchill’s best of the worst seems a vacuous, pitiable charade – ripe for abuse by anyone with a heart full of malice and a PR agent. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong

well – a Lib Dem government in office with Nick Clegg –

1- British Army takes orders from Europe

2 – 95% Legislation would come from European parliament

3 – Lib Dems would take us into Euro – what about people power? No referendum because people don’t know we know best

4 – No Nuclear weapons – hmmm

5 – No Stopping The European Gravy Train

6 – If Lib Dems were so people power oriented why support the Lisbon Treaty – why not support the Tory Motion in the House of commons – I guess on issues where the public differs from them – they do not like to listen to the public.

Wow – yeah we really should have a lib dem government. By the way, yesterday would soon be history. I think attacking Clegg is quite easy – two things:

Do you want the British Army to take orders from Brussels?

Do you want to go to Euro – look at Greece?

Why did you not support a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty?

I must be the only person in the Country that has nothing good to say about Clegg, right now. He didn’t say anything that had real substance behind it. Good claptrap (in the truest sense of the word, had the audience been allowed to clap), but nothing you really put you coat on, save scrapping ID cards and perhaps a semi solid commitment to scrap trident.

Here is a little anecdote, not scientifically selected, but I wonder if it is significant? Here goes:

My elderly mother is not politically minded. Earlier this week, she mixed Nick Clegg with another politician, see if you can guess who. ‘Is he the one that everyone was booing for being a bit Germanish?’

Fair enough, so I had to explain that is another Nick. So today I was talking to my mother who told me that Nick Clegg had said something she agreed with. So, I took my chance and asked her to explain.

‘He said we need to stop youngsters before they become hardened criminals’, she announced. ‘How do you think he is going to do that?’ I asked. She then explained that he was in favour in longer sentences, harsher prisons and perhaps even bringing back National service! He had said the right thing and left his solution ’hanging in the air’ for people to bolt on what they wanted to hear. No doubt others who heard that statement ‘heard’ him say ‘community sentencing’, ‘mediation, decriminalisation of ‘soft drugs’ etc.

Clegg has perhaps used the most subtle of dog whistle politics, in perhaps the most subtle of ways. Use nice words and let the audience decide what they actually hear.

Had he outlined what he meant the solution on this subject, would he have got more or less points in the polls? Just asking?

Shamit, um, what sources do you have for those statements?

well – a Lib Dem government in office with Nick Clegg –

1- British Army takes orders from Europe

WTF? This makes no sense to me, continents can’t issue orders.

2 – 95% Legislation would come from European parliament

No it wouldn’t, less than 10% of new laws affecting us come from Europe in any way, and the Lib Dems are strongly in favour of devolving powers back from central authorities; you may want to look up what “federal” Actually means.

3 – Lib Dems would take us into Euro – what about people power? No referendum because people don’t know we know best

Except for the public commitment to hold a referendum, repeated by Clegg on the Paxman interview Monday. And the other statement that says it’s not going to happen any time soon.

4 – No Nuclear weapons – hmmm

When did anyone say that? Clegg said he wants a comprehensive defence review and to take Trident off the table. Trident isn’t the only form of nuclear weapon y’know. Personally, I disagree with him, and think we should just scrap the lot, but that’s clearly and explicitly not party policy nor is it his favoured position. But, y’know, if you want to repeat myths.

5 – No Stopping The European Gravy Train

Except of course for the clear commitment to open, transparent and audited Govt at all levels, with reform of the CAP and similar at the top of the agenda for Europe.

6 – If Lib Dems were so people power oriented why support the Lisbon Treaty

Have you actually read the treaty? It opens the governance of Europe up, makes decision making more transparent, gives the PArliament a much greater say in legislation, increases its power to veto and amend legislation, increases the power of national Parliaments to input into legislation, and stops closed doors meetings of the Council of Ministers.

Was it a good treaty? Of course not, Gordon Brown negotiated it badly. Was it an improvement on what was there before? Yes.

But, y’know, if wou’re going to delude yourself into believing the conspiracy position that Europe has already taken over, you’re unlikely to actually want to engage on this, or acknowledge someone has lied to you about what the party position is.

But, if you do want to continue discussion, go find a source for all your statements.

@16

Please vote UKIP. It will make you very happy. And feed your sense of paranoia.

@17
Not sure what you’re trying to say – you admit that anecdote is no way to conduct political research so your experiences are, I’m afraid, meaningless (as meaningless as Cameron’s “I met a black disabled Jewish Muslim lesbian in Afghanistan” tripe).

Clegg did well. People heard the arguments and agree with LD positions on certain matters. Cameron lost big style and looked like a schoolboy. Brown was his usual dour self which isn’t great for TV, but he came off better than I thought he might. Get over it.

MatGB

Just to say I like Lib Dem policies on civil liberties.

And I do the reading of treaties and such other material, as I make my living from it.

With regard to Europe – they want a federal Europe and I prefer an association of member states

And three nations voted against the Constitution and the lisbon treaty and the Lib dems still wanted to push it down our throat.

We have an European Council President and a foreign Policy Head along wiht an unelected European Commission – all three having vast budgets and vast powers and influences and no one in Europe was consulted. The European Parliament cannot reject one single commissioner and niether did they have any vote on the European Council President or the Foreign Policy head.

Nick clegg was a member of the European Parliament and lib dems are there still. How many motions have they put forth or had held the European Commission to Account for not getting their commission accounts audited and signed over? NONE.

I know what I am talking about but actually I was writing the post above in jest. It was a joke..

And on the Common Defense Policy – have you read that stuff yet or do you want me to send the links – Lib Dem MEPs are the biggest supporter of Europe having a common defense policy – if that was the case without NATO, Yugoslavia would still be burning mate. :

Any more details you wish to clarify –

I would not vote UKIP.

But that does not mean that European Parliament and especially the Commission is very opaque when it comes to accountability.

Further, about the number of laws – hang on a lot of European impact comes from directives of the European Commission, binding findings from the European Commission + the laws enacted by the European Parliament. And if we get pedantic its about 25 – 30% however when it comes to Businesses it is a bit more.

And you can go and check it.

I am not against the European Union but I am against creating a super structure or federalisation of Europe. And the point about the lib dems are if you are so people power friendly why did you not support the fact that the constitution was dead and the lisbon treaty was nothing but the constitution brought through the back door. And Lib Dems did not have a problem with that.

On the other hand, they oppose the death penalty which 70% of this country wants.

The point is that if you want to govern you can’t just be populist – and Sunny is spot on that Nick Clegg yesterday was populist and that was it.

I think you’ll find Shamit that every major political party opposes the death penalty, yet the public keep voting for them time after time! Either the public is plain stupid or they don’t actually want to death penalty as much as you think. Same goes for the EU – no major party wants us to leave. If the elecorate were so anti-EU then they’d all vote UKIP in their droves. They don’t.

And another thing for those who don’t keep track of these things:

Vast majority of UK legislations are not passed through parliament but through statutory instruments and on average about 3500 are implemented every single year.

For example, in 2008, 3,389 Statutory Instruments were passed, while the UK Statute Law Database lists 2,414 results for the same year. And vast majority of the EU legislations are implemented in the UK through this.

So Matt once again, I do know what I am talking about. Next time before you wtt? may be some reading would help – what do you reckon?

Mr. Pill – I am not against being in the European Union at all – I think it helps us in many ways.

However, my opposition lies in creating a federal europe – a super state which something I don’t think most europeans want.

25. Golden Gordon

We all vote negatively.
I will vote labour / lib dem because I despise some of the Conservative supporters, such as Chas Newkey Burden, Nick Cohen, Martin Bright, Edmund Standing and other self righteous right wing creeps that infest the blogosphere.
Honestly won’t you vote for the party that you least dislike

However, my opposition lies in creating a federal europe – a super state which something I don’t think most europeans want.

Erm, how does that square up with the view that a Libdem govt would mean 95% of laws would come from Europe. What percentage is it now – do you know?

@ 16 Shamit

“Do you want the British Army to take orders from Brussels?
Do you want to go to Euro – look at Greece?
Why did you not support a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty?”

People don’t decide to vote on the basis of ridiculous straw men, so this is pretty pointless. Frankly, given what “New” (pass the sick bag) Labour have done foreign policy wise, I think I’d probably prefer to take my orders from Brussels anyday! But of course, that won’t happen, because the shibboleth of a European, federalist super-state is just a lot of hot air.

The problems in Greece are just a tad more complex than your incisive anaysis of being attributable to joining the Euro: they have a lot more to do with domestic mismanagement, and very little to do with the EU at all. Anyway..most UK voters have less clue about the economy than they do about foreign policy: the trouble is too many “little Englanders” uncritically swallow the anti-European tosh served up to them by the red-top comics which masquerade as newspapers.

The Lisbon treaty, for all it’s faults, could be seen as a way of protecting our liberties: given the piss-poor record of the illiberal, semi-domesticated pole cats in New Labour WRT to human rights and civil liberties, and the fact that we don’t have a proper constitution or seperation of powers in this country….. again, I’d take some EU oversight before trusting the nest-soiling time servers at Westminster anyday!

Mr Pill @ 19

Okay, let me explain, my mother thinks Clegg ‘did well’, and said things that she wanted to hear. Of course she did not actually hear anything of substance; she heard a vague outline of a problem and something close to impersonating a solution. ‘We must stop children becoming hardened criminals’ is hardly a revelation! The world’s criminologists are not giving up now that their work is now done. The missing part of the sentence starts with ‘by doing…’, and that is the hard part of the sentence because that is the part of the debate when you have to align yourself with one or other side of that debate.

Broadly speaking, people appear to be in one of two camps, or perhaps somewhere in between. You can start of at one end of the spectrum, harsher prisons, longer sentencing, more jail time etc right up to non custodial alternatives. Clegg gets 60% approval rating right up till he decides where the balance lies, then people will turn against him Once the Daily Mail start publishing ‘Safari boy’ stories, then he no longer gets 60% ratings does he?

Although, perhaps my mother is the only person in the Country who ‘heard’ a solution; perhaps the other 59.99999999% understood that he had not offered a solution. Perhaps everyone fully understood that his statements where merely stating the obvious.

He ‘done well’ only because he did not actually say much on most subjects that you point to.

@24 Shamit

“However, my opposition lies in creating a federal europe – a super state which something I don’t think most europeans want.”

The heady days of European federalism are well behind us. I’m sure there are some people out there who sincerely want a United States of Europe, but they are a fairly small minority. Even most ardent pro-Europeans see the future as a confederation.

The “super state” bogey man needs to be nailed, and seen for what it is: something anti-Europeans (and those misguided fellow travellers like yourself) regularly bring out of the darkest recesses of their paranoia collection.

Europe is a ship that goes at the speed of the slower members. There is little or no popular appetite for a super state, and even less likelihood of one coming about for a long, long time. Most of the faults people like to castigate the EU for are due to nation states keeping power to themselves, insisting on national vetoes and the precedence of national interests over those of Europeans as a whole – even in areas where it makes sense to act on a European level.

Anyone who believes that you can take the many different nations of Europe and create the federalist nightmare of the Euro-sceptics needs to get out more.

@ 28 Jim

“He ‘done well’ only because he did not actually say much on most subjects that you point to.”

….or perhaps he just thought it was better to give both of the others more rope to hang themselves?

The fact is, he looked better than the other two, came across better than both of them, and encapsulated the feelings of frustration that a majority of prospective voters have with “yah-boo” politics, and the sterile political see-sawing of previous decades.

With any luck, these debates will be seen as a sea change because the confirmed that people are sick of the current way we are governed. Clegg didn’t need to say much of substance, he just needed to let the others carry on writing out their suicide notes.

20% – 30% Sunny and as I said I was writing mostly as a joke as a Friday afternoon treat but then Matt sort of took it too seriously.

Shamit, I must congratulate you for writing a comment that was such a deadpan parody of a fairly typical UKIP troll repeating the same talking points ad nauseum that I thought you were a brainless UKIP troll repeating the same talking points ad nauseum.

I got so used to dealing with them on my first political blog that I’m somewhat inured to expecting them.

I’ll go through other points, and probably Jim’s point, later, when I’ve finished the database work for the local campaign, you have some good points, some misuse of terminology, and oyu appear to have missed some points (look up Chris Davies record as an MEP if you really want to see someone fighting corruption in Europe).

Anyway, stuff to do…

@28
I hear what you’re saying: but the other two didn’t say anything of substance of how to stop kids from turning crim’ anyway. The time constraints of the format probably didn’t help; they (all politicians of whatever hue) are so used to waffling on that yeh some policy got left out.
Agreed with @30 who I’ll quote cos he (she?) phrased it better than I:

The fact is, he looked better than the other two, came across better than both of them, and encapsulated the feelings of frustration that a majority of prospective voters have with “yah-boo” politics, and the sterile political see-sawing of previous decades.

Indeed.

Galen10 @30 (Mr Pill @33)

I agree that no-one said anything that could be nailed on. Cleggy ‘won’ without saying anything. Perhaps that is the secret? Say nowt and be new?

Jim, the BBC has a transcript of the debate:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/16_04_10_firstdebate.pdf

You say that Clegg offered no solutions. Here’s what he actually said in the part you talk about. Starting with his initial answer:

Jacqueline, you asked, what can we do to stop burglary happening
over and over and over and over again. Two things: firstly, quite
simply, more police on our streets. This government wants to waste
billions of your money on an ID card system so you have to pay for
the privilege of having lots of your own details on a piece of plastic
card that you carry around. For pretty well exactly the amount of
money, your money, that the government is pouring into that, we
could put 3,000 more police officers on the streets. That is the
absolute priority for me
. The second thing is this: there are too many
young offenders who start first getting into trouble with low-level
nuisance anti-social behaviour who become the hardened criminals
of tomorrow. What we’ve got to do is stop the young offenders of
today becoming the hardened criminals tomorrow
. In my city of
Sheffield, where I’m an MP, we’ve done some great things to do
exactly that. That’s the way to get burglary and crime down
.

Two fairly clear commitments, but the second, admittedly, is a bit vague. Good job he got time to follow up and expand on that, isn’t it?

I think, as I say, it’s how do we make sure the youngsters of today
don’t become the hardened criminals of tomorrow? It’s that
conveyor-belt from nuisance at the beginning, anti-social behaviour
in our communities, yobs on on the street corner who then become
the hardened criminals of tomorrow. I think what makes me so
angry is that again, it’s like the immigration debate: so much tough
talk from different governments of different parties for so long has
turned our prisons into overcrowded colleges of crime
. Do you know
that young men going into prison now on short-term prison
sentences now come out, and nine out of ten of them reoffend, so
we are reproducing more crime than actually cutting it. What I’ve
seen in my city of Sheffield is that you get these youngsters not
when they’ve done serious crimes, but when they’re first starting to
get into trouble, to face their victims, explain why they’ve done what
they’ve done to their victims, apologise for what they’ve done, make
up for what they’ve done in the community, cleaning up parks and
streets. It has a dramatic effect on their behaviour
. I want to change
people’s behaviour before they become the criminals of tomorrow.

Oh look, is that a clearly enunciated liberal position on crime prevention based on a real world example being implemented in a city run by the Lib Dems and shown to actually work?

I think it might be.

He’s later asked to respond to what the other two have said on the subject:

Well, it’s all very well to stay these things, but if what actually
happens in practice is that we produce, as I say, these colleges of
crime, where we have now, what, about 4,000 people going into our
prisons on short-term prison sentences, they sit around, they learn
some extra tricks of the trade from some more experienced
criminals, and then they go out and nine out of ten of the young men
on short-term prison sentences just commit more crime. I think
that’s what Jacqueline is talking about, this desperate, hopeless
feeling. It keeps happening over and over again. I met a young man
in London the other day. His flat had been burgled five times, and
one of them, would you believe it, Jacqueline, was when he was
away at his father’s funeral. He said to me “Why can’t this stop?”
Unless we do something different, not the same old remedies, but
do something different to stop the youngsters today who are getting
into trouble from becoming the hardened criminals of tomorrow, I
don’t this stuff will make the difference that they say it will.

Now that’s pretty much a restatement of before, attacking the other two for their unthinking hardline “lock them up” approach, combined with a personal anecdote.

He also gets a point in about how the other parties manifestos are uncoste, but that’s not a point you made.

Now, don’t know about everyone else, but it looks to me like Clegg spelt out a policy of catching potential young offenders early, putting them into rehabilitation and education programmes, and avoid sending them to jail unless there’s absolutely no choice.

Now it is of course true that others, including Jim’s mother, might have heard what they wanted to hear, but it’s not true to say Nick

had not offered a solution

Want to go read that transcript or rewatch it Jim? I’m not sure you were actually paying attention.

@33 Mr S Pill

Thanks.. just calling it as I see it, no particular axe to grind. Oh.. and it’s he 🙂

@34 Jim

“I agree that no-one said anything that could be nailed on. Cleggy ‘won’ without saying anything. Perhaps that is the secret? Say nowt and be new?”

Yes, upto a point I think that’s right. I’m not sure it’s so much that he had nothing to say, or even whether people know (or even care?) what LD policies are on given issues, I just think there is now a real appetite for change. I think one can argue how much the LD’s actually deserve the credit for creating or simply encapsulating this appetite, but I do think it is there.

After the disasterous performance of the New Labour project in so many areas (far outweighing it’s many achievements in my view), after the shambles of MP’s expenses, the credit crunch and recession, perhaps voters in the UK ARE finally ready for a change?

Sunny,

I have to say that in some instances Clegg was too popularist – note his ‘colleges of crime’ comment and the frankly appalling rhetoric on immigration.

wow. Its l;ike everyone was watching different debates. I watched with some chicks in their mid twenties who weren’t that political. Both of them afterwards were totally raving about Nick Clegg and said they would definately vote for him.

The big unknown for me is whether Cameron can still manage to frighten the electorate with nuclear terror in the twenty first century.

The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I am talking about, It was my replacement for read, however i actually thought youd have something interesting to convey. All I hear is a number of whining about something you could fix in case you werent too busy seeking attention.


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