The Blog

Whatever the Truth, Nick Clegg Is Doomed

So whatever the truth about the Rennard allegations, Nick Clegg is doomed. Regardless of the circumstances, the media will make sure that he suffers.

I could have told you how this would all pan out. I can almost see him now, sitting at Miriam's dressing table, looking intently into the mirror as an earnest voice reflects back at him "I could have been somebody. I could have been a contender". But how did it all come to this - Nick Clegg, sitting in his pants, reciting lines from Raging Bull into a ladies dressing table mirror? For that we need to go back to the beginning, to April 2010 and the first live television debate of that year's general election campaign (Fade to black).

(Stage left) A man in a suit stands on one leg. He is balancing behind a podium and reading from his notes. The same phrases are scrawled repeatedly across the page at various angles, 'PLAYING FIELDS OF ETON', 'END OF BOOM AND BUST', 'REMEMBER TO SMILE... SMILEY FACE'. He mumbles something which sounds like 'bigoted woman'. His voice is low, irate, Scottish. But someone is watching. He looks up with a smile that stops short of his eyes. It is Nick. He too is standing on one leg, presumably in deference. Not for long though, because Nick Clegg is about to have the greatest night of his life!

Clegg was on fire! He told the masses what they wanted to hear and they loved him for it. The next day the headlines were all Clegg. On a street corner in London town a small boy with a flat cap (probably in black and white, but not in a racist way) shouted the day's headlines - Nick Clegg seizes his moment in the TV spotlight - Nick Clegg emerges Victorious. But he had promised too much. As he seized power along with the Tories, vows were broken and dreams went unrealised (incidentally I once dreamt about eating a bacon sandwich and actually had one this morning so it's not impossible, Nick). Before long Nick Clegg was a very unpopular man indeed.

And that brings me to current events. Last week Channel 4 News reported allegations made by four different women of sexual impropriety by Lord Rennard, the portly ex-Liberal Democrat chief executive. These are obviously serious allegations but oddly much of the media's ire has been directed at the current leader Nick Clegg rather than the accused. Rumours abound but could Nick really be so disliked that he, more so than Lord Rennard, is going to take the brunt of the media storm?

Some genuinely hate the man whilst others, namely the mainstream media, realise it's just too populist not to hate him. He has made himself a public whipping boy and joins the select group of others whose primary public function, regardless of circumstance, is to take abuse. The Police, Israel, 'Big Business', The Republicans and now Nick Clegg form the rogues gallery of ridicule and contempt here in the UK. We are all guilty of binary, right vs. wrong style thinking at times but this list seems to have been permanently branded 'wrong' by large swathes of the media and the route back from a pre-judged position of public scorn is steep, slippery and, let's face it, nigh on impossible.

However, there is one major disadvantage that is unique to Nick Clegg on this list which is that he is an individual. The Police, Israel and The Republicans can all change personnel or even a few policies and 'Big Business', whilst also branded unfavourably, is far too abstract a concept for the abuse to ever get too personal (with the notable exception of Fred Goodwin, winner of the 2011 Bastard of The Year Award). But when it comes to Nick Clegg he must take the hatred, the ridicule and the abuse as an individual. It is not the Liberal Democrats that have taken the brunt of public displeasure but Nick himself.

So whatever the truth about the Rennard allegations, Nick Clegg is doomed. Regardless of the circumstances, the media will make sure that he suffers. If it wasn't this then it would be something else and the journey back from public scorn, well it's a long one so I won't keep you any longer Mr Clegg.