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Clegg must intensify his new macho strategy

by Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2011-03-12 at 07.17.06 Yesterday morning, Nick Clegg shocked the Independent by claiming that the Prime Minister's been talking "complete bilge" about AV - and that he told him him so in the Commons.  Later in the day, he stunned BBC Sheffield listeners by saying that he wants "to wring the necks of these wretched people" (bankers: his father was one).

Maybe Clegg's come down on the side of those who argue - in his Party's internal debate - that his Party must play up its differences with the Conservatives rather than down.  Perhaps he thinks this is what his activists need to hear.  Maybe he believes that the Barnsley by-election disaster's left him no choice.

But whatever his reason is, now that the Deputy Prime Minister has settled on this macho strategy, he must intensify it.  He must become the Clint Eastwood of Westminster.  The policy areas on which his Party most disagrees with the Conservatives are (AV aside) Europe, the NHS, housing benefit, security, Trident and aspects of localism.

So here's what he should do next -

  • Call Cameron a "toff" over AV.  On second thoughts, this may not work, since Clegg's also a public schoolboy.  Maybe a "blighter" instead.  Or "Old Etonian blighter".  Or "Bullingdon blighter", if he wants to get really nasty.
  • Bully IDS as a "baldy" over housing benefit reform.  And perhaps add "Left your comb at home, then?", to step up the psychological pressure.  He should try this one round the Cabinet table, just to make sure that the news gets out.
  • Taunt Pickles by chanting "Who ate all the pies?"  There'd be no risk whatsoever of reprisals.  Pickles is a model of retiring courtesy, as legions of local councillors and party activists can testify, on oath if necessary.

These insults probably aren't vicious and hurtful enough, and I'm sure that regular ConHome readers and our Liberal Democrat visitors can do much better.  But whether they can or not, Clegg must move on to his next gambit - physical violence.  He should:

  • Knee Lansley in the groin over NHS reform.
  • Give Osborne a Glasgow kiss over bankers' bonuses.  He could also try this one on Liam Fox.
  • Trample on Gove's contact lenses over security issues.

These tactics could also come in useful for internal party discipine purposes.  For example, the baldness gambit may come in useful with Vince Cable.  And just imagine what he could say to Simon Hughes.

To close, here's a preview of Clegg's coming conference speech soundbite -


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