Thursday, 3 April 2014

Another Epic Clegg Fail

Last night’s debate between Nigel and Farage and Nick Clegg was, in the early stages, quite a close run thing. But as Farage warmed up and Clegg failed to land any compelling arguments, lost his cool and lapsed into a patronizing approach, he started to fall further and further behind.

The YouGov poll just released says that 68% think Farage won with just 27% for Clegg.

But while everyone seems to be obsessed with who won, I was more interested in the substance of the debate that is finally being heard.

The central question on Europe is obviously - Are we better off in or out? The debate wasn’t exactly a forensic examination of this question but it did at least start to unravel some of the main issues.

On the issue of economics (i.e. would we be financially better off out) Clegg failed to make any compelling argument for the EU. Farage mentioned that the EU costs Britain £50million per day (£18billion a year) but Clegg seemed unable to justify any real cost benefits of membership.

He said that if Britain were out of the EU it would cost jobs but he entirely failed to justify why and instead resorted to pointing out that Britain would have to negotiate separate trade deals with other countries if it were outside the EU but again failed to justify why this would be a problem.

I was disappointed with Clegg. This was his opportunity to deliver real compelling Pro-EU arguments but he completely failed to do so. It really makes me wonder why he bothered to take part without having come armed with some solid arguments.

Until now, the advantage that Clegg and EU supporters in general have had was that in the absence of any real debate, many have been concerned that the prospect of leaving the EU involved a significant risk or peril – the uncertainty was an argument for the status-quo.

Yet having taken the opportunity to enter the debate, Clegg entirely failed to outline any significant risk or issue and so in failing to make this case he removed a degree of that uncertainty.

Instead Clegg made some fairly ridiculous claims. He tried to give the impression that the EU cost no more than Derbyshire County Council – ‘Some Superstate’ he sneered.

This is complete nonsense. Derbyshire County Council’s annual expenditure is around £1.1 billion. Britain alone pays £18 billion per year to the EU!

He also adopted a somewhat contradictory approach on defence. He claimed that, contrary to many reports, there are no plans for a European Army, Navy or Airforce, yet at the same time tried to claim we are safer in the EU. How exactly Nick?

Even on the subject of immigration, a subject on which even some of Farage’s most outspoken proponents disagree with him, Clegg again failed to make an argument. Instead he spent his time trying to suggest that Farage had claimed that 480million people would turn up in the UK as a result of EU free movement of people. It was a clearly ridiculous assertion.

On the subject of democratic accountability again Clegg failed to make an argument. He seemed to accept that the EU is not democratically accountable and ‘needs reform’.

All in all Clegg completely failed to champion a Pro-Eu argument. He simply used wishy-washy phrases about countries ‘working together’ and tried to paint the EU as being ‘the future’.

Farage effectively demolished that notion by pointing out that the EU in fact is an out-of-date protectionist block in a globalized and relatively free-trading world and Britain would be better of unshackled from it’s restraints.

Clegg came across as a blind bureaucrat incapable of envisaging an alternative to the EU yet also entirely incapable of making an argument for it.

You would think that, as polling has proved, the majority of the country are highly skeptical of the EU, or against continued membership, that Clegg or someone else would feel compelled to argue forcefully and convincingly for it’s merits.

But perhaps Clegg fundamentally believes that no British government will ever give the British people the opportunity to vote on membership of the EU. Perhaps he fails to make the argument not simply because of his own inadequacy but also because there is no situation that merits it. Perhaps he only entered the debate to try and revive his own flagging credibility.

If so it was, following the tuition fees fail and his stunning failure in the AV referendum (68% against), yet another Epic Fail.


Post a Comment