Everyone hates Nick. But for how long? I would love to predict with confidence that he will be forced to come clean and join the Tories when looming electoral disaster causes a three-way Lib Dem split in which all the nice ones join Labour, reintroducing it to the idea of civil liberties. But for all I know, the Lib Dems will win the next election outright and place the handful of remaining Tory MPs under house arrest.
Ever since Karl Marx did all that work in the British Museum library, the left has felt an obligation to predict the future. We’re better at it than the right or centre, but often ignore a crucial variable: the unfailing weirdness of human beings.
Regardless of the economic system under which they live, people do strange things. Amazonian hunter-gatherers put huge wooden discs in their bottom lips. British television viewers watch My Family.
I’ve been a member of the public all my life and yet I’ve never met a pollster, and neither has anyone I know. Who the tiny minority of people who take part in polls are, I do not know. But their one reliable quality is that they are unable to hold a consistent opinion.
Last spring, they loved Nick Clegg. Now they think he’s a scumbag, although they like his boss, in whose service he performs his scumbag duties.
Has Clegg changed? No. He still leads a party that exists for people who don’t really know what they think. He’s been consistently on the right of that party, but he probably doesn’t think of it like that. I don’t know what his future holds, but it depends not on his current popularity rating. It depends on the magnificently unpredictable human potential for mass protest. I’m optimistic; he shouldn’t be.
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