Nick Clegg – Singing a new tune

Nick Clegg Time for Nick Clegg to give his party a new tune to sing

I have a confession. Late last night in a bar in Brighton I could be seen crooning with Nick Clegg's advisers and Lib Dem activists.

I was attending the Lib Dem conference's traditional Glee Club where the the songs, like many Lib Dems, are lugubrious, fatalistic and self mocking but, nevertheless, revealing.

Take the song they sang called simply "Coalition" which is a re-working of the "12 days of Christmas"

"On the fifth day of Coalition the Conservatives gave to us …

BUGG-ER ALL

A very small amount

Sweet FA

Absolutely zilch

And a referendum on AV…… which we lost!"

OK, you had to be there but you get the idea*

Many activists arrived here fearing that they were heading for a brick wall at 100 miles an hour with a driver who can't, or won't, change course.

Their party's poll rating has collapsed. Their leader is deeply unpopular. The next election offers the prospect of what, for many of them, is a Lib Dem dream - a progressive alliance with Labour. Yet, surely, they calculate, the Clegg/Cameron marriage will make that impossible.

Few are seriously contemplating forcing their leader out but, as a result, they fear they may be doomed to their worst election drubbing in years.

Today in his leader's speech Nick Clegg has to prove that song wrong and give his party a new tune to sing. He will tell the Lib Dems that at the next election they will be one of three - not two - parties of government and they will be able to present themselves as a party more trusted with the economy than Labour and more trusted with society than the Conservatives.

In other words, the past - before the cuts, the compromises with the Tories and the broken promises - is just that, the past.

It's not as catchy, not as much fun, not as reassuringly gloomy as the Glee Club's tune but, he figures, it might just catch on.

* You can hear the singing for yourself on BBC Radio 4's World at One. Incidentally, the rest of the words starting with the twelfth day are:

"Just a meagre helpingMere pecadillosNot a bleeding sausageNaught they would missJust a meagre smidgeon Nothing you would noticeVery little really …

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

UKIP - power struggle, not soap opera

All the bizarre news stories that have emerged from UKIP in recent days reflect a power struggle within a party that aspires to hold the balance of power after the next election.

Read full article

More on This Story

More from Nick

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • HobbitHobbit review

    Nicholas Barber asks whether The Battle of the Five Armies is worthwhile or unnecessary

Programmes

  • Digital candlesClick Watch

    Inside the 'Harry Potter' church, using technology to explore "digital empathy".

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.