Yesterday Mr Clegg endorsed David Cameron's flagship "big society" theme.
In a U-turn, the Liberal Democrat leader told a Downing Street seminar for voluntary groups he hosted with the Prime Minister: "What I'm discovering is we've been using different words for a long time – it actually means the same thing. Liberalism, big society. Empowerment, responsibility. It means the same thing." So there you are it’s all the same thing really. So what is the point of voting for the Lib Dems then? Everybody might as well have voted for the Conservatives and saved us all this bother.
Mr Clegg took a rather different approach to Mr Cameron's big idea during the election. On 2 May, he said: "What is this 'big society'? It is a big society with a price tag attached. It's a bit like inviting someone to a party in a pub and finding that it's your card behind the bar paying for everyone's drinks." What’s so “New Politics”® about a U Turn then? That is certainly not a new political manoeuvre.
Mr Clegg is also expected to announce today what he will label a "big bang” of political reform. It looks much more like a damp squib with a load of Tory looking aspirations to roll back surveillance society and buried in it the vaunted referendum on changing from FPTP to AV (not even the AV+ advocated by the Jenkins Commission). That is a change from one majority system to another, no mention of PR at all. How is that going to maximise choice and make things fairer? Also in there is this gem of obfuscation: moves to “a wholly or mainly elected House of Lords”. What does that mean then? Not a fudge is it for some tinkering round the edges by any chance? Isn’t “New Politics”® wonderful?
Here is a list (from the Independent) of the other key aspects of the Big Bang expected to be announced by Deputy Dawg:
* scrapping the identity card scheme and second generation biometric passports;
* removing limits on the rights to peaceful protest;
* a bonfire of unnecessary laws;
* a block on pointless new criminal offences;
* internet and email records not to be held without reason;
* closed-circuit television to be properly regulated;
* new controls over the DNA database, such as on the storage of innocent people's DNA;
* axeing the ContactPoint children's database;
* schools will not take children's fingerprints without asking for parental consent;
* reviewing the libel laws to protect freedom of speech.