Liberal Democrat leader and deputy British Prime Minister Nick Clegg began 2010 with the sort of unrecognisable face readily available to periphery politicians. By mid-April the phenomenon of ‘Cleggmania’ swept the country rendering Mr Clegg the saviour and redeemer of British politics. Finally the disillusioned youth had a cause to believe in and a ballot box to put their cross in.
Yet by the evening of the 6th of May it was clear those crosses weren’t enough when the Liberal Democrats scored a paltry 57 seats, placing them firmly as the third horse in a two horse race. By May the announcement of the unfortunately titled ‘ConDem’ coalition saw scenes reminiscent of a romantic comedy when Cameron and Clegg, the right and the left, took to the podium as brothers in arms.
And Clegg ends this political rollercoaster of a year resolutely on a low after a fast descent. Vilified by betrayed students and with a party split down the middle, anonymity is certainly no longer an issue for Mr Clegg.
Cleggmania: Bigger than Blair
When ITV broadcast the first leader’s debate in the lead up to the general election, both the two men who opposed him and many throughout the country could claim “I agree with Nick.” He was calm, charismatic, made sense and seemed to offer a hope of a viable alternative to decades of Tory and Labour government.
Clegg’s popularity rocketed; his particular appeal to students labelled him an inspiration, a new face in politics and one to motivate a seemingly politically apathetic younger generation.
From Ballots to Riots
It is perhaps ironic that later in 2010 it was again Clegg at the root of disproving an image of political indifference, this time during which thousands of students took to the streets in the biggest and most high profile protests for decades. And why? Because Clegg and his Liberal Democrat party had betrayed their pledge to scrap student tuition fees and instead the cap was raised by thousands of pounds.
Nick Clegg was no longer a hero; he was now to many the face of a party that betrayed many of those who had just discovered newfound belief in politics. Unless his spin takes a turn, Nick Clegg’s time in office is ultimately as condemned as the ‘ConDem’ coalition.
He is the scapegoat for failures and will see no benefit from any economic successes accredited to his superior, Mr Cameron. The Liberal Democrats are divided and weak, the yellow in their branding no longer represents a shining sun in a world of change, it’s now the remnants ablaze of duplicitous promises.