Review: “Politics” by Nick Clegg

For full disclosure I must admit from the beginning that it was Nick Clegg’s TV duel with Nigel Farage that got me into politics and the LibDems.

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So, naturally, I was biased from the start, but also very afraid that the book would disappoint me, especially since Clegg was about to confess some errors he made during his time in office.

Yet this refreshing ability to admit his faults and errors, explain the thinking behind some of the more controversial decisions and stand by some unpopular policies only makes me more convinced that in a world of corruption and cynicism there are still some very good guys around, and Nick Clegg might just be one of them.

Unlike other political memoirs, this book goes directly into policy decisions and specific issues that were part of the LibDem’s time in Coalition government.  It provides a lot of insight into the way a coalition is run, how this particular coalition was run and how it could be improved.

Clegg rarely puts the  blame for things gone wrong on others but takes his share of the blame without hesitation. Self-critical, yet analytical and constructive, his observations and thoughts are definitely worth listening to if you want to understand the complexities of politics. This is no revenge or ‘tell-all’ disclosure to come clean or come out of it smelling of roses, but a fascinating glimpse into four years of British politics.

It is particularly relevant as Clegg focuses so much on the current trend of extremism and gives us some food for thought on the political landscape of our time. The need for politics of reason and moderation is greater than it was for a long time.

Coming from Germany, which has a decades spanning tradition of coalition governments I am maybe very accepting of the compromises the LibDems made in their time in government, seeing them as necessary and unavoidable. I recommend to anyone to read this book to learn just a little more about that topic alone.

I’ve seen Nick Clegg at the Party Conference and heard him speak several times, and always found him reasonable and convincing. I listened to this on audiobook and found him reading it himself useful, as it minimises potential misinterpretations. So here’s my verdict:

Highly recommended (although admittedly from a fan).

Next up for me to read is:

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4 thoughts on “Review: “Politics” by Nick Clegg

  1. I come from France where coalition governments are not the norm so I am probably (surely) not as accepting of the compromises the Lib Dem made while in government. I still have a vivid memory of the time Clegg and Cameron walked off with their mics still on and the words: “we have to stop agreeing all the time” – I can’t remember exactly, but it is close enough – were delivered with such self-satisfaction, they left me nauseous. Clegg gave me the impression over the coalition years of a man too desperate to have his party “feature” to do very much more than put up a token fight. To be fair, I don’t think it was his need for glory for himself that made him so willing to roll over on his back, but his need for the Lib Dem to matter. Maybe I am being too harsh on him but that’s the impression I formed of him during the coalition years: a sickening willingness to bow down to the Conservatives until it was almost over. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the Lib Dem’s time in government was disastrous enough to have destroyed the party. They were, rightly or wrongly (quite rightly in my opinion) blamed for most of the damaging policies the Tories inflicted on the working-class. What’s expected from a Tory government is not forgiven so easily when “liberals” play a part in it.
    In case you haven’t gathered yet (haha), I’m not a Clegg fan at all. But I’d like to read this, I might become more indulgent towards him upon reading , who knows? I’m adding this to my (gigantic) book list 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the comment and the passion in it. I understand the sentiment very well.
      But may I add, that looking at the positive side: Without the LibDems we’d have a third runway in Heathrow already, we’d never have had the green energy policies that are now being eroded (no longer one portfolio for green issues, but three for Brexit), we’d have far worse conditions for the disabled and people on benefits… There are a lot of good things that were down to the LibDems that seem to be forgot now, mostly over the Tuition Fees; but not all could be saved when one party is so significantly smaller than the other. That’s the main problem, that in a fair democracy and coalition you can only get a fair share of asks and gives in the selection of laws, motions and policies and Clegg freely admits to giving in too much in order to make the coalition work.
      We’re seeing now how the Tories do it without moderation. It never was a LibDem Government and they could only ask for that much before being accused of undemocratic blackmail or over-proportionate policy demands.
      I hope you’ll read the book and let me know whether you can see any of this afterwards.
      Hope you’re having not as chilly a day as I have.
      Much love, 🙂

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      1. You are absolutely right, the Lib Dem did temper the Tories and you are right about Heathrow and so on. And of course, you are right that if the coalition was to work, then of course the Lib Dem had to make compromises and sacrifices. I do know all this but my unreasonable INFJ idealist nature can’t help but rebel at how much they did sacrifice. To be perfectly honest, I had hopes for Nick Clegg before the coalition, and I suppose I can’t forgive him for dashing those hopes – it makes me slightly harsh and unreasonable, I am aware of it 🙂
        It is absolutely FREEZING down in Brighton but it’s probably worse in Wales? Well, I had my lunchtime walk anyway, as long as it’s not raining I can take the cold 🙂
        Much love to you too 🙂

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  2. And we need this Idealism to challenge the compromises and ‘deals’, too. Wales was freezing, too, minus 8, but cold and dry is very popular here as opposed to wet and warm(er). I had a fire lit all day yesterday, and had a cosy day indoors (minus the dog walks).
    xox

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