Believe it or not, I do occasionally feel sorry for Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems. Since their inception they have served a genuinely useful role in British politics; the role of the ideologue, urging policy makers towards unattainable, unrealistic goals and ideas, while never having to concern themselves with practical policy making. Tragically for them, as many people including myself always said would be the case, it has been their first taste of government which has comprehensively destroyed their relevance.
It’s been a hard time for them as they’ve learned to work on real-world policy, and they have certainly paid dearly, with their party now slightly less popular than Satan himself, and the public now agreeing with David Cameron that Nick Clegg is indeed “the biggest joke in politics”.
Today, however, it seems to have become too much even for Clegg himself to bear, as he appears to have forgotten the past year altogether and entered some kind of state of denial about the whole experience, retreating to his old style of shouting the first nice sounding idea that passes through his bewildered brain. Today he unveiled his latest quest to end what he calls the ‘who you know culture’, saying people shouldn’t be advantaged because they or their parents “met somebody at the tennis club or the golf club”.
Super. I wonder how this is to be achieved. Perhaps a nationwide ban on discussing all matters to do with work, or study, or life. Perhaps everyone in the country in a position of hiring staff or offering internships needs to be barricaded in their office at night. Or maybe Nick is suggesting running a complete background check for every job, internship, and study placement that no applicant has ever met anyone who has had a conversation with someone in any way related to the company – by which time the company would have gone bankrupt, and you would have grown old and died. Of course, being more serious about this, as always, he makes a perfectly valid ideological point, that it is unfortunate that those who lack certain connections by complete chance are less likely to get certain jobs. But I’m afraid this is nothing short of the fundamental nature of human existence – we meet people who know people who do things. It spans the entire course of your life, from getting cool field trips in primary school because someone’s dad worked for an interesting company, to hearing about a job opportunity before anyone else because you met someone in the know. This has always been the case in every aspect of life, and can never be changed one iota, no matter how much you may or may not wish it to be so.
Once upon a time this may have been an insightful little comment from the far end of the commons opposition benches from Nick Clegg, general-purpose Liberal MP. But from Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I’m afraid it just comes across as vacuous, meaningless, and deeply irrelevant.