Thursday 13 May 2010

“Why thank you, Mr Deputy Prime Minister”

Just hours after receiving an email from Chris Fox, Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats , I’ve had one from the main (supporting) man, the Deputy Prime Minister himself. Brilliant. Nice of him to get in touch. Especially when he’s obviously a bit busy right now. Tony Blair only ever wrote to me once - and that was on 27 July 2007, just after handing over to Gordon Brown. And as for Gordon, well, he never wrote. Nor phoned. I didn’t take it personally though.

As an aside, what has really impressed me over the past couple of days is the easy manner that Gordon Brown has exuded in his public speeches. Gone is the tense and stressful delivery. Back is a warmth, humour and dignity that suggests he can be a really nice man to get to know. And David – no, he's only written to me once - on the morning of the General ELection, asking for mny vote. I hope he'll write again. Failing that, perhaps one of his team might.

Anyway, back to the plot. Nick Clegg has written to me (and, to be honest, probably to loads of other people outside the febrile Westminster village) with a message not of triumphalism but of humility. And with a sense that he is aware of the magnitude of the task in hand. Among other things, this is what he had to say:

“We are now going to form a new government More importantly than anything else, we are going to form a new kind of government; I hope this is the start of a new kind of politics I have always believed in. Diverse, plural, where politicians with different points of view find a way to work together to provide the good government for the sake of the whole country deserves.

Of course there will be problems along the way; of course there will be glitches. But I will always do my best to prove that new politics isn't just possible - it is also better.

I hope you will now keep faith with us let us prove to you that we can serve this country with humility, with fairness at the heart of everything we do. And with total dedication to the interests and livelihoods of everyone in this country.”

Very astute move, to use the internet to reach out to the electorate in a way I’ve not experienced with the Tories nor the Labour Party. Should I decide to opt out of electronic marketing by the Liberal Democrats, I’ll let you know how quickly they stop sending me this stuff.

Let’s see how Nick Clegg gets on developing his civil liberties agenda, now we know that we have Ken Clark and Theresa May ruling the roost over at Petty France and Marsham Street.* Not to mention Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, who has just been appointed the Minister for Security. She knows a thing or two about the real needs of our intelligence community. Just how will Nick's ideas chime with these people? I have a great deal of respect for Ken, having known of him for all of my political life. The last time he was in office, he was renowned for wearing his Hush Puppies to work. I’ve never seen Theresa May in a pair – she’s renowned for her association with a different, more racy, line of footwear. And I really don't know what Pauline Neville-Jones's taste in shoes is - I'll cast my eyes to the carpet when I next see her.

*For those far away from the Westminster village, Petty France is the home of the Ministry of Justice, which sponsors the work of the Information Commissioner’s Office, while the Home Office is on Marsham Street, and is responsible for implementing decisions about the retention of phone, internet and email records.