A Bluer Shade of Orange


From London Review of Books:

Among Liberal Democrat activists and some on the Labour left, Clegg is often accused of compromising his principles and selling out for the sake of power. The charge is absurd, for the Con-Lib programme is in many respects a straightforward application of Clegg’s brand of liberalism. Very little compromise was necessary. The Liberal Democrat leader has few reasons to feel uncomfortable with a government that is implementing much of the programme he urged on his own party. Just as much as Blair and Cameron, Clegg aims to replace British social democracy with a version of Thatcher’s market-based settlement.

The confidence with which Clegg defended the shift to market liberalism is striking, not least because the collapse of the market liberal order was underway at the time he gave his speech at the LSE. It may be that the programme he presented expresses deeply considered convictions. More likely, it reflects the workings of an acutely intelligent and at the same time highly conventional political mind. The market ideology of the 1980s Conservative Party has been internalised across the British political class, so that it now seems no more than common sense. Like Cameron, Clegg has known nothing else.

“Progressive, like the 1980s”, John Gray, London Review of Books