In his new year message, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has warned voters not to vote for anyone other than the yellow dove in May 2014’s European Parliament elections. The Deputy Prime Minister said that a vote for a euroskeptic party, or any other party for that matter would be the “surest way to throw our [economic] recovery away”.
“Ukip want out. The Conservatives are flirting with exit. And Labour just don’t have the courage of their convictions on this,” he stated. “All three would put narrow political interests ahead of the national economic interest. So, in a few months, I’m going to ask you to make a different choice. The Liberal Democrats are Britain’s Party of In. Not because we’re in love with the EU, or we think it’s perfect but because being in Europe means jobs, trade and prosperity”.
What does this mean then? Well, it all comes across a bit tired. He’s used the well-worn “different choice” and “The Liberal Democrat’s are Britain’s…”, but the message comes across thinly. He nigh-admits the EU is not perfect, Parliamentese for seriously bad but I still want it.
And it feels as if Mr Clegg is trying with desperation to wave away conceptions of his party which seem, well… correct. The Conservatives aren’t flirting with exit, they’re clutching for popular policies with the British people, and “having their say” in a referendum will be an important factor in the next election.
As for Labour, the Liberal Democrat leader understands that Labour is even more pro-EU, but wouldn’t dare shout about it, since it’s unpopular. And we all know that Labour, having lost much credibility in the financial crisis of 2009, can’t afford to say out loud how they want to keep paying for the EU, and wouldn’t bet something so important to them in an in-out debate at all.
Then Ukip, who’ve been outscoring the Lib Dems and their policies in polls consistently, and are tipped to make great successes in next year’s European elections. Nick Clegg, whilst enjoying coalition now, may not see power again without a handful of policies which look shiny and radical and achievable: sadly, the Liberal Democrats just aren’t that sort of politics.