THE rise of new left-wing pressure group Momentum is a ‘fundamental error’ for the Jeremy Corbyn regime, former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said.
The Sheffield Hallam MP said the Labour Party has not got the ‘slightest hope’ of winning at the next General Election because the passion and enthusiasm on social media ‘airwaves’ won’t translate into votes.
Speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post as he completed his first book since leaving office, the former leader of the Lib Dems said none of this ‘noise’ will end up in greater support at the ballot box.
The rise of populism will be one of the themes of his much anticipated expose set to draw on his time in the coalition Government. He will also be looking at the ‘haywire’ politics of the UK, the US and Europe.
The final chapters of Politics: The Art of the Possible in an Age of Unreason are currently being written, with Mr Clegg writing during his train journeys from Westminster to his Sheffield Hallam constituency.
He said: “It will draw on little anecdotes and stories and insights from what I experienced in government, but I’m not going to use the book to settle endless scores, however tempting that might be.
“I think that politics is going through a very interesting, unpredictable phase at the moment. I think a lot of people feel that politics has gone slightly haywire at the moment. Not just here, but if you look at Donald Trump in the States, you look at [comedian and activist] Beppe Grillo in Italy. You’ve got this rise of populism.
“The old certainties where [Britain] had two larger parties and one third party has now changed into a much more unstable and unpredictable arrangement with Scotland basically being turned into a one party state, a right wing populist movement, Ukip, garnering millions of votes, a traditional party like the Liberal Democrats very much thrown back on its heels, and the Labour Party just gorging itself on its own arguments.
“And the Conservatives rather smugly, if accidentally, coming through the middle and back into government, and I think a lot of people are asking themselves ‘why is that happening’?”
His party was left with just eight seats at the General Election after a near-political wipe-out and Mr Clegg stood down as leader with Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron taking over in the summer.
He has since ploughed his energies into investigating global drugs reform and wants the EU to change their punitive approach to the trade which criminalises many young people.
But aside from policy, he has been able to spend time reflecting while writing the book and is considering how to restore a moderate liberal voice within the British political arena.
“Part of one of the things that’s going wrong in British politics, well not wrong ... but one of the things that is quite deceptive really is that partly because of social media, and just the sheer remorselessness and the noise of 24 hour media, is that you can have sub groups, campaign groups and lobby groups and single issue campaign groups making a huge amount of noise – but noise does not equate to wider public support.
“I don’t think the Labour party in its current state has the slightest hope of winning at the next General Election in part because people on the left of the Labour party are mistaking their own passion and enthusiasm, in which they populate the social media airwaves with their own passions, with what Mrs Miggins of 36 Orchard Close thinks.”
“The vast majority of British voters do not follow the ins and outs of what Momentum or indeed any other internal party pressure group thinks.
“The fundamental error of Corbyn and people around him is they think just because of a bunch of youngsters who clamour to listen to Corbyn on a wet afternoon in a town hall in Leeds, that equates to what people want from the government of the day.
“When any party talks to itself, as night follows day, you can pretty well guarantee they will lose the interest and support of lots of ordinary voters.”
He said his book will have no ‘sort of kiss-and-tell’ on his time working alongside David Cameron and George Osborne in Downing Street, and will be an accessible and humorous attempt at trying to make sense of what he described as ‘slightly topsy turvy’ phase of British political history.
He said it is honest, candid and will include ‘what I did do right and wrong’.
But for the people of Sheffield Hallam, where he clung onto his seat with a much reduced majority, he said his new found time has given him more ability to focus on his constituency, which he’s represented for 11 years.
“I’ve never been one of those politicians who thinks politics is only worth doing if you’re on a back seat of a Ministerial limo. I really, really enjoy being a constituency MP, it’s a wonderful part of the world, it’s a fantastic consituency,” he said.
But whether he’ll stand again in 2020 remains to be seen.
“I’ll take each Parliament at a time at the moment,” he added.