Clegg jumps on the bandwagon….

Nick Clegg; having absented himself from the debate around the NHS, finds it fit to comment on the Al-Megrahi case.  He is right that the case is one of enormous gravity but his statement that;

“I find it difficult to accept that someone convicted in a British court of law should be released as he was,”

shows a degree of naiviety on two fronts. Firstly, it assumes the conviction was a safe one which, as I have said, I do not believe it was; this does not mean I think Al-Megrahi is innocent for certain, it means I feel that there circumstances of the conviction create ‘reasonable doubt’ that it was a safe conviction.  The possibility of Al-Megrahi’s innocence makes the decision to release the correct one in my eyes and it is something that Clegg obviously doesn’t want to deal with. As I understand Scottish law; it provides for compassionate release three months from death regardless of the gravity of the offence and relative guilt or lack of; therefore if Clegg is arguing this case is exceptional then it is him that is arguing against the letter of the law, not the Scottish Executive.

Meanwhile, the Politics Home poll shows that Clegg has clearly set himself against the majority of our voters with 52% approving of the decision. Overall, 53% of voters disapprove which I find hardly surprising but once again this is an issue where the majority view is not necessarily the right one.This is especially true when 37% of those polled feel that the original conviction was not beyond reasonable doubt; if they so feel then their support for the continued incarceration of Al-Megrahi is entirely wrong and the 29% who have ‘no opinion’ show they clearly are going to follow the media agenda.

Of course, Clegg is right that this is beyond legalism but it is precisely for that reason that Clegg’s comments are so horribly wrong. Once again Clegg has shown himself totally adept at bandwagon hopping which I am going to bluntly say I find distasteful. When it comes to policies on issues like Afghanistan/Trident this opportunism is precisely the root cause of why it is so badly wrong; because Clegg’s modus operendi is to play to the media gallery.


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19 responses to “Clegg jumps on the bandwagon….”

  1. Joe Otten says :

    You seem to turn every issue into an attack on Nick Clegg personally. Are you hoping to get linked by the newspapers or something?


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Not at all; given he made the comments in this case which I disagree with profoundly it would be hard not to criticise him personally. This has been the case in the past too; he made the ‘aspirations’ comments, he made the comments supporting liberal interentionism, need I go on?


  3. Carla says :

    I agree that he should not have commented on this, but not for entirely the reasons you are giving. I think there are some issues where there is either no need to comment or which simply become confused if we do. I would say we should comment loud and clear on issues which are part of our main message (brand identity if you like) and on the whole leave the others alone. Labour and the SNP are already tearing each other apart on this one ( a good thing I would have thought) .. our intervention does not change that – it simply spreads out the players in the media in a way that might lessen the harm the other two can do to each other.


  4. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Thank you for your comment. I just find it baffling that Clegg absented himself from the NHS debate, which was substantive, and now finds it wise to comment on this which lends credence to the view that once again this is opportunism from Clegg, desperately scrambling to prove we ‘aren’t soft on crime’; something which underpins his Afghanistan stance as well I believe.

    It is interesting that by a slender majority the poll found that a majority of people actually found the conviction unsafe.


  5. Peter Laubach says :

    I agree with you entirely and am disappointed at this comment as well as the reported comment of Tavish Scott. Since it is clear from the recent PoliticsHome(?) poll that the majority of LibDems support the decision, is this not another case of “Calamity Clegg”, who has jumped in quite unnecessarily with both feet?
    I heard David Steel on R4 this morning and was impressed by his measured comments, which I think will have more accurately reflected the average LibDem’s position.


  6. darrellgoodliffe says :


    I am dissappointed with Tavish too and also Liberal Youth who have joined the clamour to react in a knee-jerk style to this case. Yes the pol was on Politics Home and I am rather afraid it is.

    I also heard David Steel’s comments and like yourself thought they were more reflective of what I felt about this case, Steel rightly resisted the temptation to use this case for party political point scoring by laying into Gordon Brown.


  7. Joe Otten says :

    But Darrell, why do you choose Nick Clegg in particular to contrast your own views with? By all means argue your corner, and argue against those you disagree with. But to have a go at the same particular person each week suggests an agenda.

    What is that agenda?


  8. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Because he is the party leader and expresses views which I don’t agree with and are defiantly not representative of my own? I feel, in all honesty, Clegg has become a bit ‘rent-a-quote’….there is no agenda 🙂


  9. Joe Otten says :

    I see. Doesn’t get in the papers on an issue = absenting himself. Does = rent a quote. Only getting detailed analysis written in blood covered in full would do, I suppose.

    Naivety? You have got to be kidding! It would be naive to make the kinds of nuanced statements you are demanding in a political world where nuance is immediately pilloried by all hostile forces. Excepting perhaps yourself, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    Oh but no agenda. What a mercy.


  10. darrellgoodliffe says :


    He didn’t get on the papers on the NHS because from what I can see he said not an awful lot so hardly surprising he didn’t get mentioned really. However, this, a ‘great source of outrage’ rent-a-quote Clegg is right behind Cameron ready to bash the government.

    Yes, he is being naive in what is a complex case and looking for an easy hairy-chested headline showing how ‘tough’ on crime he is.


  11. Joe Otten says :

    Darrell, I can forgive you for never having heard Nick speak at any length on crime – not everybody has. But I don’t think it is reasonable for you to project your imagined bogeys onto him. Save that for our opponents, if you must do it.

    And although I hesitate to be this damning to anybody, your equation of government-bashing with lining up with Cameron, represents two-party thinking. My apologies to any readers finding this language offensive.


  12. darrellgoodliffe says :


    I don’t need to hear Nick speak on Crime to know what he is doing here is posturing and pandering to media prejudice so as to avoid the impression we are soft on crime. Its the same with Afghanistan, let’s show how ‘tough on terrorism’ we are by lining up with the cosy consensus.

    Well actually Clegg started making noise about this after Cameron, so it’s no wonder people call him ‘Cameron-lite’ but there you go…


  13. burkesworks says :

    Thoroughly disappointed in Clegg and especially Tavish Scott in this cynical points-scoring exercise. Why *are* they lining up with Labour and the Conservatives and failing to address the flimsy evidence behind al-Megrahi and the Libyans’ alleged involvement with the case anyway? Very poor.

    Much credit, though, to David Steel on his position in the matter; his R4 Today programme answers were exemplary.


  14. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Totally agree. The only explanation I can think is the one that I have outlined above in my exchange with Joe, that it is some kind of ‘hair-shirt’ contest thing on their part. Addressing the dubious nature of this conviction would necessarily conflict with that and so they ignore it.

    Agreed about kudos to David Steel. 🙂


  15. Joe Otten says :

    There are all sorts of reasons why it might not be wise to bring up the fact that al Megrahi is probably innocent. I still wonder why you presume the worst of these reasons that you can think of rather than the best.

    Disagree all you like, but am I really going too far in asking for constructive engagement rather than insults?

    I don’t see how a disagreement over compassionate release for a convicted mass murderer merits this sort of venom.


  16. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Indulge me then, name some other than not wanting to rock the boat. And I think it is fair to say at this juncture that I am far from the only one ‘presuming the worse’ as can be clearly be seen by the exchanges on this thread.

    Calling this position an opportunist one is a concrete point given the facts in front of us and like I say the venom stems from me feeling this is not the first time that Clegg has taken positions for this reason.


  17. Joe Otten says :

    Well I for one think it would be a big mistake to do anything that might unravel the diplomatic deal whereby Libya pays a big bribe and suffers a little abasement in return for enjoying normalised relations with the West. None of us surely want Libya to remain a pariah state with all that entails – they support terrorism, we bomb them from time to time, etc.

    Similarly, attacking the trial of al Megrahi has diplomatic implications. Mouthing off regardless would be expected from a naive amateur.

    This is not to say such things shouldn’t be discussed at all. But soundbites can go badly wrong.

    Whether Clegg shares these views I don’t know. My point is that it is not that hard to think of charitable reasons for what has been said. Yes, in the cut and thrust of politics, our opponents will try to assume the worst – to piss into the tent if you like. But at least they have the sense not to piss in their own tents.

    I shouldn’t have to remind you that our party policy is not to be soft on crime or terrorism. Rather it is to support measures that are effective against crime and terrorism, and to oppose ineffective measures that others adopt just to sound tougher than thou.

    Many felt, even with Ronnie Biggs, that compassionate release was too soft. That we can be too forgiving. The line has to be drawn somewhere – but you don’t say where you would draw it. You just condemn somebody else for saying that in this case release – which inevitably implies a degree of forgiveness – is not appropriate given the magnitude of the crime.

    OK so you are more Jesus than I am. Well done. Stop throwing stones.


  18. darrellgoodliffe says :


    In fairness I do see a potentially seedy side to this deal which I dealt with in an earlier post. Obviously attacking the fairness of this trial is wrong then because we might offend America and we wouldn’t want that now would we; lest we forget that British families of victims have also spoken out against the trial so if they can why do you continue to apologise for Clegg not mentioning it?

    Of course they would assume the worst but so what? I am sure they will take plenty from this blog but that wont stop me saying it and nor should it; let our opponents say what they want. Your charitable reasons all boil down to the same ones I give just your interpretation and perspective on them is different.

    It is also to champion the restorative aspect of justice because, and let’s whisper this, that is part of what it is about. But maybe I had better not say that; wouldn’t want to appear soft or diplomatically naive now would I.


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