Back in 2011 Nick Clegg famously said:
you shouldn’t trust any government, actually including this one. You should not trust government – full stop. The natural inclination of government is to hoard power and information
It’s a position embodying impeccable liberal principles. It demonstrates a clear understanding of the dangers of concentrating power and, by implication, the benefits of pluralism. The heart of many a jaded liberal sang in response. Clegg circa 2011 got it.
I wonder what Clegg circa 2011 would make of the actions of Clegg circa 2014?
This week we have witnessed the all too familiar sight of Liberal Democrats in the Commons dutifully trooping through the lobby in support of an illiberal Conservative bill. This time it was Chris Grayling’s Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. In the process they overturned some wise amendments passed by the Lords, where a rearguard action had been fought to try to stop the bill achieving its primary objective of putting government decision making largely beyond scrutiny. In the Lords the Liberal Democrats supported these amendments en masse. In the Commons the only Liberal Democrat to vote against the Government was Sarah Teather. It’s a sorry tale. Many liberal activists have been sent near apoplectic.