I HAVE never seen anything like it. Nick Clegg’s trouncing in a televised debate with Ukip leader Nigel Farage this week was spectacular. Not so much for the drubbing of the deputy Prime Minister – even among the Lib Dem faithful, his popularity has been in the doldrums for years. Nor for the strengths of Farage, whose policies on immigration in particular remain ill-judged. But never has the great gulf fixed between our entire political class and the public it exists to serve been clearer.
For Clegg didn’t fail off the cuff. A whole team of people had to work very hard to make him that bad. They gave us a painfully rehearsed script that, where it should have dazzled, fizzled. The jokes were written by people who had heard there was such a thing as humour, but hadn’t quite got the part about punchlines. “If I’m the leader of the party of in, he’s the leader of the party of Putin.” Seriously?
Or take Clegg’s refusal to make eye contact with his debating partner. This must have seemed brilliant to the yellow-hued set in their prep sessions – but why? They missed the simple rudeness of the gesture, and sent their leader out to look petulant and boorish.