What the Hell Happened?!

It was supposed to be so easy…

Being a Liberal Democrat is simple, for the most part. You don’t expect much. You get used to people giving you a patronising nod, whether you’re in the pub or on their doorstep. It’s the political equivalent of “Oh, that’s nice…”

And then there was Cleggmania.

All of a sudden, our nice-but-not-very-controversial leader was political hot property. Myself and the candidate for whom I was working genuinely considered walking around Chelsea (!) wearing yellow rosettes, and basking in the appreciation. The Labour party were going into meltdown; the Conservatives were panicking; and Liberal committee rooms up and down the land were thick with the sound of people desperately, desperately trying not to invoke Sod’s Law.

Not that it did any good. I may have succumbed to the urge to smugness when I confidently declared, “We’re going to hold the seat, with an increased majority.”

The seat I was working in was Richmond Park, where British-enough-to-be-an-MP-but-not-enough-to-pay-tax eco-Sloanie Zac Goldsmith won the seat for the Conservatives, by quite a considerable margin.

So what happened? Nobody seems to know. Nobody seems to care, moreover. For out of the wreckage of Cleggmania came the strange creature known as Cleggeron.


For days after the formation of Britain’s coalition government, tabloid sketch writers were searching around for a suitably sinister acronym, abbreviation or simple term of abuse for the first government to feature Liberals since the Second World War. The problem is that neither ‘Cameron’ nor ‘Clegg’ lend themselves to easy parody. Our Dear Leader is notably the only world figure who Rory Bremner says he can’t imitate. Eventually, it seems that ‘Cleggeron’ has been settled on- a strange, robotic sort of word, which Daily Mirror cartoonists will no doubt depict as some sort of double-headed Dalek, armed with the pair of shears which will no doubt become the defining motif of the next five years (or less).

So what do we do now? The truth is, we Liberals are in a state akin to shell-shock. The only thing we expected less than being taken seriously, was actually getting into government. So at the moment the grassroots- whom I will address in further detail later- are very pleased to be taken somewhere, anywhere, by the leadership. But it won’t last. Getting Liberals to co-ordinate anything is rather like herding cats, and soon enough the voices of doubt will be raised.

We do indeed live in interesting times.

Published in: on June 1, 2010 at 4:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

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