In the photo above, Nick Clegg leaves Number Ten Downing Street this morning for an audience with the Queen upon the dissolution of Parliament.
We’ve had many debates on this website about the record of the Lib Dems in government. Nick Clegg has received shedloads of stinging criticism.
Channel 4’s Coalition docu-drama last weekend, though needing to be taken with a pinch of salt, reminded us of the events of 2010 and the formation of the government.
Many critics didn’t expect the government to last for more than a few months. We used to run a question on our monthly LDV survey asking members when they thought the coalition would end. Many thought it would end after a year or so, or at least six months before the election.
I started supporting the Liberal party in 1970 when we had six MPs elected. I was very fortunate to live in one of the constituencies represented by a Liberal MP – North Cornwall. Our MP was John Pardoe who I saw speak several times at the top of a Land Rover by Lloyds Bank, Bude. He was a hugely charismatic speaker who hooked me onto Liberalism.
I never realistically imagined we would form part of the government and spent decades being told by voters that we were irrelevant because we would never be in power.
But we confounded the critics and were part of one of the most stable governments in the last hundred years. We took over when the public were still traumatised from the banking crisis and the Eurozone was in turmoil.
Despite our visceral hatred for many of the things the Conservatives stand for, we rolled up our sleeves and got on with serious government.
I won’t go through a blow-by-blow analysis of what we’ve done and not done, but Caron has provided an excellent account on her blog.
I agree with her – I can’t remember a better government in my lifetime, and I have been knocking around since 1959.
And I think we can pause and recognize that a lot of that success of stable government can be credited to Nick Clegg, who has provided a remarkably steady hand on the tiller during the last five years.
I am very proud of my party and very proud of Nick Clegg.