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English: United Kingdom's Deputy Prime Minster...

English: United Kingdom’s Deputy Prime Minster and Lord President of the Council Nick Clegg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Nick,

Hi! Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to make a video for me. This must be really important to you. Thanks. Really.

I’ve voted for the Liberal Democrats in general elections more often than I have voted for any of the other parties. In 2001 and 2010, I duly put my cross next to the Liberal Democrat candidate for MP (in 2005, I had just moved house and wasn’t yet on the electoral roll at my new address). I have never voted for either a Labour or Conservative candidate in a general election. Nor will I.

In 1997, I didn’t vote for Labour because they had abandoned Clause 4, and, apparently, all other principles as well. Their record as venal authoritarians desperate to dismantle the NHS and anything that survived of the public sector, always ready to try to outflank the Tories on the right of any issue meant that there was no risk of my voting for them once we’d all seen how they intended to use power.

So, in as much as I’ve been anything (on a national level) I’m a Lib Dem voter. Hello!

Thanks again for the video. I suppose it’s only fair why I let you know exactly why I think it’s not an apology, and to reiterate that I shan’t vote for you again (and explain why).

First, let’s clear something up. This is not an apology.

Or at least, it’s not an apology for the right thing. Voters like me are cross because you broke your pledge on tuition fees (and also, lest we forget, a manifesto commitment to get rid of them altogether).

When someone’s cross with you for breaking a promise, you don’t apologise for having made that promise in the first place. That isn’t the dishonourable part of your conduct. What was dishonourable was not doing everything that was within your power to try to keep your promise.

The problem people have with your behaviour is not that you made unrealistic promises (or, let’s say, fully costed manifesto commitments). It’s that you abandoned promises you freely made, in order to win some internal battle with the members of your party, or because the appeal of a ministerial car was too great, or simply because you just never believed the promise you made.

There was every opportunity in the drafting of the Coalition Agreement for you to make tuition fees a red line (although, as we’ve seen with ‘no more top-down reorganisations of the NHS’, you’ve got quite a flexible attitude to how linear those lines are, and what colour they appear to you).

Indeed , your claim in your ‘apology’ that you “couldn’t keep our promise” appears distinctly shabby, if not an outright falsehood. You say that there was no money available, but there was money to cut the top rate of income tax, to cut to corporation tax, to send a Gove Bible to every school in the country, to fund the Olympics (£6.2 billion).

Frankly, the Conservatives wouldn’t have been able to govern without your help. I don’t believe you couldn’t keep your promise. It’s just not the sort of thing that appeals to Orange Bookers. No, it’s not that you couldn’t keep it, but that, given the option, you wouldn’t keep it. And you didn’t.

Imagine, for a moment that we’re all a big family. You’re Daddy. The Tory party are Daddy’s new boyfriend, Eric. And the electorate are children. If, for example, you promise that next year we’ll all go to EuroDisney, but then you get together with the Eric, and say “Sorry. Money’s tight. Not only won’t we go to Eurodisney, I was wrong to think we ever could. What’s that in the drive? That’s Eric’s new yacht. I’m sorry for promising we’d go to EuroDisney, but I’m not going to feel guilty about it. Stop dwelling in the past, when we didn’t even have access to a yacht.”

Except, of course, it’s not EuroDisney, it’s university. And the 15,000 young people who didn’t go this year because of the changes you introduced.

Your answer, in this video, is to promise not to make any more promises like that. Your response to having betrayed your principles is to offer to have fewer principles, to state that you will do your best as a party to believe in even less, to achieve even fewer things. Let’s hope that this promise turns out to be as easily broken as those you have made before.

Let’s quickly look at the apology itself.

There’s no easy way to say this. We made a pledge. We didn’t stick to it. And, for that, I am sorry.

Which is so filled with sophistry that it made me quite angry. The “for that” could, clearly, apply to either of the preceding statements, depending on  whether you read it as:

We made a pledge – we didn’t stick to it – and for that I am sorry.


We made a pledge. We didn’t stick to it, and for that I am sorry.

The balanced way in which you read it makes it clear that it’s intentional that it can be read in two ways. Because, of course, deep in your heart of hearts, Nick, you don’t want to apologise for breaking that promise.

This whole little video seems like a dirty little attempt to brand the social liberals who make up much of your party’s rank-and-file (or did) as wildly romantic, impractical dreamers.

We can all see why it’s necessary to do this: your party’s uniquely democratic structure means that they get to decide your policies. Much better for everyone if they just learn to go with what you say is pragmatic, achievable, sensible. Much better if they cease to aspire to a better Britain at all.

You said that you “owe it to us to be up front”. Well, Nick, I’ll offer you the same courtesy. I don’t see that as an apology at all, just as a backhanded rebuke to the (many) members of your party who believed that higher education was important enough for the lives of young people that it should be available to all, no matter what their circumstances, free at the point of use.

I wasn’t sure I could have thought less of you. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

You finish with a statement of what your party believes in. That is, until it’s easier for them not to believe in it any more…

Sir Ian Bowler, MP, explains the ins and outs of the new system.

Here are the latest emissions from the ever-fattening head of Sir Ian Bowler.

(I will write some prose words for you to read soon, promise, just not at the moment.)

BREAKING NEWS: 28TH April 2010 – Late this afternoon, in shock announcement, Sir Ian Bowler, MP for Buckland and Ruttington, announced that he was to step down just a week before the General Election.

Visibly shaken by the screams of the feral rhesus monkeys that could be heard from outside, he gave his parting statement:

Yesterday the Conservative Party, no doubt pissing itself with glee at its own new media prowess, put up a website called Cash Gordon*. It was a pun. Not only was it a pun, but it was a bleeding-edge piece of web campaigning that would reward supporters for various online activities including reading speeches and creating blog posts about ‘Cash Gordon’. It would also take any tweet with the hashtag #cashgordon in and prominently display it in a rolling box on the front page of their site.

That’s right. Any tweet containing that hashtag.

Within an hour of the site going live most of the things on the front page read ‘David Cameron is a cunt #cashgordon’ or ‘All Tories are hateful piss-weasels #cashgordon’. Some people even  made up things that weren’t true.

When the Internet discovered that whoever had written this site hadn’t stopped  people including images or Javascript in their tweets, things got a lot worse. For a while anyone who tried to get to the site was redirected to the Labour home page, later it went straight to hardcore porn**. Shortly after that, the geniuses behind the whole project pulled it from the Internet, claiming that they had meant to do that, and it was a really subtle way of getting their message across to lots of people (seriously).

I took the opportunity of using the hashtag to direct people to this video,That’s Why They Call Us The Blues, of a song I wrote and performed for The Treason Show a few years ago.

So, for a few moments yesterday, the front page of the Conservatives’ newest campaign website pointed you to a song in which I listed all the people Tories hate. It is a long song. (It actually grew two choruses longer after the version that is up there).

And this tiny, inconsequential non-victory actually felt quite good. Because I was sticking it to the Tories. Yeah. In your face, Tories. Except the ones I know and like. You should not put it in your face. Just look at it, and accept that your face is, theoretically, one of the places it could go.

One of the comments on the song I wrote above, reads: “Do a song about Bloody Gordon. Are you a sore loser in the making? You sound pretty Public school/ middle class to this working class Tory. Your f——-g class warfare crap lost you the Nantwich by-election. F—–g Fabian POSEUR,crawl back into yourSocialist hole and play with your mung beans!!!”

To which I smugly responded that “about eight seconds’ research” would have revealed that I had done something similar about Gordon Brown for Comedybox. This was untrue in two different ways.

First, although I did write and record ‘It’s Not Easy Being Brown’ it disappeared from the Internet some time last year, falling down the back of MySpace Comedy. He could have researched it all he wanted, he probably wouldn’t ever have found it.

(If anyone has a copy of this, I’d be most grateful if they could put it up somewhere. *cough* Bob Pipe! *cough*)

Second, I do mainly take the piss out of Tories. Making fun of Labour isn’t the same. Yes, it’s enjoyable; yes, it can be vicious, but it’s never as much fun as really, really laying into Tories. It has a special music that lightens the heart, and a fragrance that perfumes the drowsy night air and swells the balls with proper, old-school vitriol.

Looking back, I’ve come to realise that a lot of the things I do make fun of Tories, and I’m not exactly sure why.

It’s not like I don’t loathe the Labour Party with every fibre of my being. Just the word ‘Blears’ has been known to bring me out in septic hives. From Bernie Ecclestone and Lobbygate at the beginning of their government, through Blunkett’s buying shares for his kids, Harriet Harman’s husband ** UPDATE – It was, of course, Tessa Jowell’s husband I was thinking of. With overtones of Jacqui Smith’s husband… Apologies to Ms Harman **, Mandelson’s mortgages, up to the shower of bastards revealed last weekend, the Parliamentary Labour Party has shown itself to be the most venal, corrupt organisation most of us can bear to think about. And we remember what the Tories were like.

They abuse the public trust and public purse on a colossal scale, and are shameless in their pursuit of personal fortunes with which to feather their mediocre nests. They are sweaty little men and women who bend over and spread their cheeks, whilst peering over their shoulder at the rich and powerful, desperate to be tossed a tip. In other countries Messrs Byers and Hoon would be adorning lamp-posts rather than reporting themselves to the Commons Standards Committee.

So, it’s not like I particularly hate Conservative politicians. I have grown to hate all politicians equally.

But I do hate Tories. The idea that anyone could have lived through the 1990s and would consider voting Conservative is enough to mark them out a having suffered a terrible head-wound in infancy.

There is something profoundly, desperately wrong about someone who self-identifies as a Tory. A dead-eyed, hate-filled sac of poisonous gases, stewing in years of resentment and self-pity. An easy target, but one I can rarely pass up.

Roll on, the General Election…

*I wouldn’t bother clicking on it now, they had to redirect it to somewhere less offensive pretty sharpish. So it’s odd they chose the Conservatives’ main website…

** Either way, the visitor was treated to the site of brazen quims being whored out in exchange for tawdry amounts of money.

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