Bill Carmichael: Sir Nick Clegg? This is beyond astonishing

ARISE Sir Nick! According to reports from 'party sources' '“ none of which have been denied '“ the former Lib Dem leader and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg will receive a knighthood in the New Year honours.

Nick Clegg has often divided opinion. PA

This is beyond astonishing. The last time Clegg hit the headlines he was skulking around Brussels with those other two Remoaners in Chief – Ken Clarke and Lord Adonis – desperately seeking to undermine the British government’s negotiating position on Brexit by encouraging the destructive obstinacy of Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier.

Read More

Read More
Nick Clegg to receive knighthood in New Year's honours list

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Of course the Remainer establishment elite will look after its own, and all the prominent campaigners who backed rule by the undemocratic and unaccountable EU will be showered with honours, despite their miserable failure.

In sharp contrast Nigel Farage – arguably the most successful politician of our era, who almost single-handedly changed the course of British and European history by restoring self-governing democracy to the UK – will of course receive nothing.

Ostensibly Clegg’s reported knighthood is said to be in recognition of his service as Deputy Prime Minister in the Coalition government between 2010 and 2015.

And it is true that Clegg gave the Lib Dems their first taste of power on the national stage – although in the process he wrecked his own career and virtually destroyed his party.

The Lib Dems is a party of protest, not power, and its supporters are never happier than when holding a placard at a rally and screaming into the wind about some perceived injustice or other.

Nick Clegg is set to be knighted

What they hate above all else is to have their ideological purity sullied by the messy business of actually getting things done.

So it proved with their first foray into government. Before the 2010 election, Clegg made a solemn pledge not to increase student tuition fees. Such pledges are an easy and cheap way of courting popularity, and as long as you remain in opposition you never have to do anything about them.

But once in power Clegg discovered to his horror that such rash promises have to be paid for – and after Labour’s disastrous stewardship of the economy there was “no money left”.

Clegg promptly abandoned the pledge and agreed to triple tuition fees to £9,000 – a broken promise that dogged him until the end of his political career.

Nick Clegg is set to be knighted

In the 2015 election Clegg narrowly survived a strong Labour challenge in his Sheffield Hallam seat, but he quit as party leader after the Lib Dems suffered a catastrophic haemorrhaging of support – from 23 per cent of voters to under eight per cent - and its number of MPs declined from 57 to just eight.

We were told that after the 2016 referendum, there would be a massive anti-Brexit bounce as voters realised their mistake and the Lib Dems, as the only major party in England to officially oppose Brexit, would be the main beneficiary.

It didn’t happen. In the election earlier this year, there was absolutely no evidence of a surge in support for the EU, with more than 80 per cent of voters opting for solidly pro-Brexit parties – Labour and Conservative.

In fact the Lib Dems’ share of the vote actually declined even further, although thanks to the vagaries of our electoral system they managed to secure 12 seats.

Clegg himself was finally ousted from his Hallam seat by a far left Labour candidate Jared O’Mara, who quickly went on to push the self-destruct button. Today the constituency is effectively unrepresented in Parliament.

It is an ignominious end to a political career marked by unremitting failure. Clegg failed to keep his promises in government; he failed to strengthen his party; he failed to keep his seat and he failed to keep the UK in the EU.

And bizarrely as some kind of consolation prize for all this failure he is honoured with a knighthood!

Well here’s an idea – Clegg claims to be a democrat so why not let the people decide? A simple and cheap online poll could be set up to allow citizens to vote for or against Clegg’s knighthood.

On second thoughts it probably wouldn’t work. If Clegg lost he would just demand the poll be re-run again and again until he got the answer he wanted.