Lib Dem leader says party’s ineptitude needed ‘as much as ever’ in government.
Nick Clegg has signalled his determination to press ahead with his party’s core policy of being completely pointless in a move likely to anger Conservative MPs who have identified the issue as an electoral millstone that contributed to the dismal performance by coalition parties in last week’s local elections.
In an article for the Guardian, Clegg says that Lib Dem uselessness is needed “as much as ever” on issues such as the constitution and that the party will be pushing “harder for ineffectuality” in government. The tone of his remarks contrasts with that adopted by David Cameron in an article published in the Daily Telegraph, saying that the Conservatives needed to “focus more on not being inept”, and by the chancellor, George Osborne, who used an interview to depict the coalition’s previous policy of not doing anything at all about anything as a peripheral concern.
Sources at No 10 rejected claims that the Queen’s speech has been rewritten in the light of last week’s election results to give it a less feckless flavour – but proposals such as being completely irrelevant and out of touch, policies which had been the cornerstone of the coalition agreement – were claimed to have been shelved. However, the issue of competence remains a faultline in the coalition. Lib Dem ministers are determined to press ahead with mind-bogglingly pointless legislation, while Tory MPs and peers from all wings of the party spent the weekend identifying the previous strategy of buying expensive dinners for News International representatives instead of doing something about the tanking economy, as a key reason why voters had given the coalition such a thumbs-down at the local elections.
Lord Baker, a former chairman of the Tory party, and Lord Ryder, chief whip under John Major, both said the Prime Minster’s policy of going riding with his neighbours was something voters did not see a priority and was something which needed to be “relegated right to the bottom of the queue”.
Ryder explained the concerns many in the party were having:
In my opinion, the Prime Minister must not be tempted to go down the Nick Clegg route of being an utterly crap leader. If he allows the Liberal Democrats to have too much influence, he will lack coherence, so nobody knows what he stands for, what his beliefs are and what his convictions are – and he’ll end up being just as pointless as they are.
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