I'm really saddened by all the people bitching about Nick Clegg getting a knighthood on social media. People hurling abuse, ranting what an awful man he is, a traitor etc, accusing him of all sorts of horrid stuff. Sadly it's just another symptom of a remarkably dis-United Kingdom in 2017: a place where bitter hostility bubbles away only inches from the surface, and manners and decorum have pretty much flown out the window.
I happen to think Clegg was one of the last decent moderate politicians at the helm in Britain. A man who sought to repair, rather than burning down the entire house. His only real crime was to make a terrible decision when faced with what was, let's face it, a horrendous choice. He may have played the precarious role of 'Kingmaker', but being realistic, whichever way he'd chosen in that fateful summer of 2010, he'd have effectively handed over power and policy-making to either the same old 'New Labour', or the Tories any way. He opted for change, because that was the mood of the country.
Nothing that happened after that point was anything to do with him, or the Liberal Democrats: once the Tories had been enabled, that was it...game over.
In fact, our allegedly pig-loving former PM probably got a real kick out of subjugating this junior partner; forcing him to renege on specific promises he'd made to students, among others. I bet he wasted no time showing who was boss.
Yes, Clegg should have known he was opening Pandora's Box, doing a deal with the Devil (perhaps a better analogy). And yes, it was a colossal mistake in my opinion. The Lib Dems and Labour were far more natural bedfellows, and I doubt Britain would be in quite so much of a mess now had they teamed up. But being fair, never in my lifetime has there been a leader or political party to take so much blame for events and policies that weren't their fault either.
All on the Tories
Everything that's happened in the UK since 2010, is all on the Tories. No one else. Not the Liberal Democrats, and sure as hell not the EU. Does anyone honestly think Cameron and Osborne gave a damn what the Lib Dems had to say once they'd clawed their way into power? Or that the very same Prime Minister who nonchalantly hurled his country off a cliff, simply to settle a dispute within his own party, gave his junior 'deputy' PM from a different party the time of day? I think not.
If anything, the fact things have got so much worse since 2015, probably demonstrates how much the Lib Dems likely tried to rein the Tories in. The rate at which our country has unravelled in two and a half years, is most startling.
In other words, we should probably be thanking them for their efforts: however ineffectual they were long-term.
The destruction of the Lib Dems was very bad news for Britain...very bad. A sturdy nail in our political coffin. British politics at that point became a two-horse race, like America. Reason and independent thinking were practically put on notice. What happens if both options are awful? That's certainly how the U.S ended up with President Donald Trump. When there are quite literally only two options, even if one seems horrific and unthinkable, it will still have a 50/50 shot. And if enough rich people want it to happen, it will almost certainly happen.
Polarised to excess
When everyone in a society is forced to side with one of two teams, polarised to excess with no room for compromise or moderation, it is a recipe for disaster. It can create a very disturbing imbalance of political power, and encourages extremism almost by definition. Those on both the left and right often talk about 'moderates' like it's a dirty word. 'Moderate', by definition, means 'not extreme'. And I for one, am all for that.
Another side-effect of the two-horse system is that voters start to overlook any number of policies, even those harmful to them or their own families, as long as they're on the same page about the 'important' ones. (Like foreigners and blue passports.) It stops being about the policies, and becomes just about two sides facing off in a football match. Very handy for would-be despots and dictators, wishing to streamline their route to power riding waves of populism. A few years ago, a politician like Jacob Rees-Mogg (for example) would never have been widely considered Prime Ministerial material for a twenty-first century United Kingdom. No longer the case sadly, in Brexit Britain. No...now we've gone all colonial grandeur/foreigner-bashing, and seem to want to revert to a Victorian workhouse-style economy, unbelievably Moggmentum has become an actual thing.
I don't particularly like the idea of knighthoods, or what they stand for/imply: they're archaic, and propagate notions of feudal inequality. The very issue that's ripping our society asunder, behind all the foreigner-bashing and ramped-up left-right conflict.
But that detail aside, if we are going to reward politicians with a token title or honour for serving their country, for prioritising decency and principles, and for attempting to do the right thing - eg: not being entirely motivated by selfish ideologies and careerism whilst in office, I can think of few better or more deserving than Nick Clegg: the ill-fated Kingmaker.
I can definitely think of much worse:
I like and support Nick Clegg for the very same reason I like and support Jeremy Corbyn: because inherent decency and ethics stand out a mile. They shine like a ray of light, certainly among the bigots and careerists now infesting Westminster. I trust my instincts to know a good/decent human being when I see one, even if I don't agree with them about everything. And vice versa too. As far as I'm concerned, decency has to be the starting block: and that quality doesn't only reside within those we agree with about everything. If you think it does, you are the narrow minded one.
Anna Soubry is another such an individual. I don't necessarily agree with her about how we achieve the end result, but I do essentially believe she wants the best for our country, and our people. She is not callous, she doesn't jeer and mock opponents in the same way as most of her Tory colleagues; she is respectful, and an honest, fallible human being who attempts to stand by her principles. She is clearly not like the rest of the Tories. And though I don't support her party, in any way, I wouldn't be averse to her receiving a knighthood, for example (or whatever ludicrous equivalent there is for those of the female gender).
In the end, Clegg and the Liberal Democrats were simply a sacrificial lamb in a grisly ritual: one that opened a portal to somewhere rather scary, and really rather unpleasant. Their loss was ours too. Any measure of counterbalance is a good thing.
UPDATE, 27th DEC:
Ironically, I was insulted and literally shamed on a pro-Corbyn Facebook group for having dared to share this article, and then blocked for disputing their assessment. Even though I've been a very vocal supporter of Jeremy Corbyn for years, dedicating God knows how many hours to championing his cause.
I then found out, purely by coincidence, that the admin person who blocked me is a very active member of Momentum in Southampton, named Francesca Lambert. A detail I find truly shocking and troubling in equal measure.
Such people do not seem to realise how THEY are the element on the left that so many reasonable people fear. Quite literally a detriment to our cause.