Kama Chameleon Clone
Nick Clegg, speaking to the LibDems' Spring Conference yesterday, wanted an end to policy-making in 'smoke-filled rooms'.
Congratulations, Nick, on combining a cliché with an anachronism.
Where are all these 'smoke-filled rooms' since the smoking ban? I'd rather like to go and sit in one. (If one does exist, you'd probably find Charlie Kennedy there. Personally, I think they kicked him out for being a smoker. The drinking was just a cover story. After all, there's never been any shortage of piss-artists in the House of Commons).
The similarity to Cameron was striking, partly because Clegg adopted the same style of speaking, eschewing a rostrum and walking up and down the stage, apparently speaking off the cuff. Except that he wasn't because I got one glimpse of one of those giant autocues at the back of the hall, like the ones presenters use on TV shows like The X Factor.
He had one good, if unoriginal, joke about George Osborne having had more positions on Northern Rock than the Kama Sutra, adding that he seemed to have found them rather less enjoyable. The Young Liberals loved that one but an elderly lady glared at Clegg with a face like granite, no doubt wondering why their nice, clean-cut young leader had suddenly turned into Russell Brand.
It must always be remembered that the LibDems are a receptacle for those disillusioned with the other parties and that liberalism is not a requirement for membership. I have known LibDem activists who were anti-abortion, homophobic and generally antipathetic to most of the party's policies. But I suppose the divergent views to be found within the party sits well with their need to take seats from both Labour and Conservative parties and their Janus-like approach to electoral politics.
Clegg's speech was unlikely to upset anyone because it was almost entirely devoid of actual policies. Ironically, he lambasted his political clone-mate Cameron for his own lack of specific, detailed policy.
He did dangle the possibility of tax cuts (if he were to win an overall majority, of course.....LOL) but only if there were money to spare after meeting all their spending commitments. Since the LibDems make spending commitments with the abandon of people who will never actually get their hands on the purse, the possibility of finding a superfluous wad of money down the back of the sofa seems remote.
And the standard LibDem position of reduced taxes and better services is one of those Kama Sutra positions that is only feasible for a double-jointed yoga master.
Both Clegg and Cameron have a style that is reminiscent of Blair - a style that is now discredited as far as the electorate are concerned.. That's why the Tories are struggling to achieve a significant lead in the polls.
Having thrown out their most successful leader of modern times, Charles Kennedy, the LibDems then stumbled upon Vince Cable as a hugely successful temporary leader. If they had half a brain they would have persuaded Cable to become permanent leader. His speech at the Spring Conference was far better than Clegg's.
There's a mousey, uncharismatic quality about Cable that reminds me of Attlee, but he's extremely competent and has a sharp wit. Most importantly, he has authenticity - a quality that the smooth, public school Clegg and Cameron clones totally lack.