Like, say, signing the anti-tuition fees pledge. The loss of seats in the election. Discussing his sex life. Axing the Sheffield Forgemasters loan. And, although I can’t find the link, slapping Osborne on the back after the Spending Review.

Regretting something implies you wish you didn’t do it. I’m sure Clegg wishes all of the above didn’t happen. But regretting cuts he describes as necessary? That just makes him look weak. Either he believes the above were genuine mistakes, or he doesn’t. In some cases he will. But using the same language for the spending review as about his number of sexual partners makes any attempt on his part to dissociate himself from the unpleasant consequences of the party’s decisions look pathetic.

I voted for Clegg, and it’d be great if he could stop ‘struggling with his conscience’ and start acting on it. In my line of work, I encounter a lot of post-hoc rationalisation, and I don’t want to believe that my party leader is guilty of doing the same.


Referring to The Art of War may seem rather pretentious, but there’s some ancient wisdom in there that has bearing on the TUC’s position today:

“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.”

What is the most advantageous grounds on which the Tories could position political debate? Assuming that, as their opponents would claim, their real aim is always to maintain the privileged position of the rich ruling classes, on what grounds would you want contemporary political debate to be held?

You certainly wouldn’t want to talk about how the proceeds of economic growth have been increasingly distributed entirely unfairly, with the overwhelming majority going to the better off. That might give people crazy ideas about a fairer distribution of wealth within society, or that perhaps economic growth per se only seems to work out well for a minority of the population. You certainly wouldn’t want to talk about Labour’s greatest failure, which was simulating rising living standards for the less well off by making it easier for them to access credit, rather than actually raising their wages.

Instead, you’d want to create a battle about something most of the public agree with you about. You’d want your greatest ideological adversaries to waste their strength and their support in opposing your gamble on cutting public spending, ensuring that in the event private demand doesn’t pick up, you’ll have someone to blame. You’d want, in fact, to use your opponent’s strength and inclinations against them.

I’ll leave you with another quote from the ancient master:

“Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.”