Party Conference Season: Nick Clegg scores 3/10

Party Conference Season: Nick Clegg scores 3/10

Oh dear. He’s getting worse.

When Nick Clegg launched himself into our homes in the first of the leaders debates just before the last general election, he ruthlessly deployed his one major advantage over Cameron and Brown: he was new.

But he over-played his hand to a quite extraordinary extent, claiming that his party was different, more honest and somehow morally superior. He talked about the other two parties as being two sides of the same coin, implying that only the Liberal Democrats could offer something new and better.

Talk about setting yourself up for a fall.

But there was something else about Clegg’s performance in those debates that suggested more serious presentational problems ahead. Simply, his style was smug and patronising, and it became more obvious and irritating as the debates went on.

Fast forward eighteen months, and those presentational problems are getting worse.

I’d give him 3 out of 10 for his set-piece BBC interview with Andrew Marr. His delivery was about 50% too fast (a schoolboy error) and he made the cardinal mistake of trying to outmuscle Marr and shout above him, making his delivery sound like a rant.

Worse, there was no obvious key message for the viewer to take away. Very poor all round. His first key-note speech wasn’t much better. OK, it was difficult because he had to please an anxious party faithful as well as to reach out to the voters.

But just about the first thing he uttered was a cutting gibe about the Prime Minister’s moneyed family connections – a Prime Minister with whom he’s in coalition. A very petty, vindictive thing to do. And throughout, his delivery sounded as contrived as ever, giving the impression that he was all too consciously “acting” it.

Clegg likes to smile wryly when asked about his party’s appalling opinion poll ratings, and suggests that it’s somehow an honourable burden that his party has to carry for being in government in an age of austerity.

But he should look at himself.

He sounds like a student politician from a public school background with bags of self-regard but zero emotional intelligence.

I’m afraid he’s the sort of person people love to see being brought down to size.

Article date

September 26th, 2011

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer


My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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