Just how low will Huhne's supporters go ?

I don't believe I am the only person who is being put off greatly and perhaps narked off at the same time by the antics of "Team Huhne". Perhaps the biggest example of this has to be the constant diatribe of personal and negative attacks on him by Lib Dem bloggers who should know better.

Take for example Paul Walter, who has written the most terribly biased and one sided accounts of a hustings meeting ever, with little or no attempt at balance or fairness. Reach comment of praise for Nick Clegg is instantly destroyed by some negative comment. For example, he said of Nick Clegg

"Brilliant soundbite. But really, not very much substance to back it up"


"on the subject of immigration, to be fair, one spate of what seemed like real passion"

note, just the "one" spate.

And then there is the next backhanded compliment

"I can't remember any mention of the economy by Nick Clegg, Apologies if I missed it."

Come on Paul, are you really sorry ? After all, it would have been one less thing to attack him on.

I wasn't at the meeting, but if I pick out some choice comments that are typical of the article Paul wrote.

"Nick Clegg said that he is "liberal to his fingertips on immigration". Oh. So he's not liberal to his fingertips on anything else, is he? Strange thing to say. It's the kind of thing you leave someone else to say."

Oh dear Paul. It's like me asking you if you have hit your wife. If you reply "No", I am then left to assume that you have beaten your mother and children instead. This type of comment from "Team Huhne" has been used before too. It's a very low form of attack. Cynical, nasty and unwarranted.

Paul Walter repeated this line too when he made reference to a questioner asking

"Aren't you just Cameron-lite?" - asked one questioner of Nick Clegg, to applause and the odd groan.

Perhaps Paul the odd groan is because people are sick of this sort of attack ?

Then there are the attacks on Nick's charisma. Something that people of all parties have agreed he has in spades. A friend of mine (a Tory) went to the North Pole with Nick last year and always speaks highly of his charismatic charm. But no, Paul has an attack on his personality in this respect too.

"Except that Chris Huhne's speech was interspersed with applause several times. Nick Clegg's wasn't. At all. Except at the end when he had finished. Clegg paused for applause on at least one occasion but you could hear a pin drop."

And this is not the only reference that Paul makes to cardboard, no doubt wanting the Tories to pick this up as a theme should Nick win, Paul uses it again when he says

"Nick Clegg did a sort of cardboard passion"

And to think Paul was one of those critical of me for attacking Ming's record as leader. I don't think I ever tried to do a character assassination of Ming before he had been given a chance !

There are, of course, lots of other examples of people criticising "Team Huhne" for their personal attacks, but I notice virtually no accusations of attacks from "Team Clegg" on Huhne. What does this tell us ?

So please, let's start rationally debating policy and stop the dreadful negative, biased and personal attacks. Stop giving the opposition ammunition.


Alix said...

Nich, it's not your fault. I know that. You're not my friend on Facebook, and hence don't know that this morning I changed my status to "Alix is going to shoot the next person who writes a whiny chris-said-nick-said-ummmmm-that's-really-naughty post."



Seriously though, an awful lot of people seem to be expending a lot of blogging energy on how disgusted they are with how everybody else is expending their blogging energy. Just an idea - how about taking a lead on the rational policy debate that you conclude is necessary?

Greenfield said...

I was at this meeting at Bristol. Paul was spot on with his report. Nick Clegg - in my opinion is out of his depth at present.
Chris has the passion & shows it. Yes sometimes even angry - but hey I'm angry but about alot of things too. Nick is a 'nice Lib Dem' - but I want is an angry one - sorry thats my opinion.

RobC said...

To be fair to Paul Mike Bell, a Clegg supporter, had a similar opinion of how the Bristol hustings went.

I'm surprised at blogs like yours. Do we really want a beauty contest where nothing of substance is really debated? If Nick as you say has charisma and can inspire the Party then why are you so concerned by what Huhne says or does.

The fact is Nick's supporters on the blog community outnumber Chris's by a margin of perhaps 2 to 1 so Huhne has to make the running if those numbers are reflected in the wider membership.

mhuntbach said...

Huhne has been continually attacked by Clegg supporters for being "inward looking", "talking only to party activists", "making the party unelectable by taking it to the left", all of which I think is just as unfounded as the attacks by Huhne supporters on Clegg.

I'd love to be rationally debating policy as you suggest, but part of the problem I find is that Clegg supporters are ready with the attacks on Huhne, ready to drop hints that they plan something radically different which isn't "left wing" (as they throw that as a term of abuse at Huhne), which they claim will appeal to the vast mass of people who will vote for us as soon as they hear what it is, but strangely reluctant to tell us what it might be. Some of Clegg's fringe supporters clearly do want to adopt a radical extreme free-market line, though the official Team Clegg deny they want that. But in the absence of any explanation of what they do want, speculation will gather, particularly given the enthusiastic support Clegg has got from the right-wing press.

If Clegg doesn't really support that sort of thing, but actually supports the same sort of mixed approach Huhne supports, then fine, but all that abuse thrown at Huhne for not being radical and "challenging" enough then looks a bit hollow.

youngdegsy said...


Like Paul Walter, I am a Chris supporter. Firstly, I don't think Paul's comments should necessarily be held against Chris; but secondly, I attended a completely different hustings meeting, in Edinburgh, and many of Paul's comments ring true to me.

Chris's speech in Edinburgh was interrupted by applause on three or four occasions; Nick's was not. That's not to say that people didn't find it impressive, of course: merely that they didn't interrupt him with applause.

Nick Clegg's performance was passionate in parts but, despite speaking without notes, it did have a very prepared feel about it, and so I can see why some people would think it was wooden / cardboard-like / whatever inanimate analogy one prefers.

Nick's big five challenges - the thrust of his speech - were the disconnection between people and politicians, balancing liberty and security, fear, the environment and globalisation. When he talked about globalisation, he did not really do so within the context of the economy: he focused more about how people feel removed from decision-making and unable to influence the factors which shape their lives.

It certainly seems that Nick has chosen not to focus on the economy, and (for obvious reasons, given his background and experience both within and outwith Westminster) Chris has.

This is an obvious point of distinction between the two of them: Chris wants to challenge Brown and Darling on Labour's story of economic success, Nick focuses more on reaching out to new people (not that I necessarily agree that he would be better at doing this, but it is a claim that Team Clegg makes).

I for one am happy that policy differences have emerged, and it provides the sort of debate the members deserve, but leadership is also about personal qualities and these are relevant to the choice we have to make (especially for us, where the Leader receives the vast majority of attention the party gets).

Nick's team has made bold claims about Nick being a far better communicator, but despite having heard and seen him perform on a number of occasions before and, to be fair, being impressed most of the time, his performance at the hustings left me a little underwhelmed.

Other members who attend hustings may have the same feeling and, if so, it's their right to put that across, even if they choose to write in a more sarcastic tone than others would.


Paul Walter said...

Thank you, Nich.

Just one small point of clarification.

You write: "And to think Paul was one of those critical of me for attacking Ming's record as leader."

Not true. I strongly critiqued what you said but I did not criticise you for saying what you thought. In fact, my post in response to your July post specifically said:

"Nich, the last thing I would expect and want you to be is quiet. The very thought of a silent Norfolk Blogger is inconceivable."

The reason I said that is because that is what I invariably, and perhaps boringly, say to people who say things I don't agree with - because, above all, I am a great believer in the quote attributed to Voltaire:

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

With best wishes to you and your family, and I hope your son is doing well.

All the best