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By Stuart Littlewood

Come away, Clegg. Leave them to stew in their own juice.

So this is what a “hung parliament” looks like.

The party holding the balance of power – the Liberal Democrats in this case – scuttles back and forth to furtive meetings behind closed doors with the two suitors who need propping up. Both are undeserving of power but the one with the juiciest bribe will win the “bride”.

A drooling media circus stalks the players in this unseemly drama for the smallest crumb of news. Radio and TV studios churn out endless speculation, making the financial markets jumpy and leaving the rest of us disgusted.

Why would Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, demean himself and his colleagues? He must of course be seen acting in the public interest. He must be seen at least going through the motions of cobbling together a viable agenda with people his own team probably haven’t the stomach to work with.

After losing power in 1997 the Conservatives went into a Big Sulk and wouldn’t come out to play. One new leader after another tried to jab them with a sharp stick but Blair and Mad Labour were given a free ride. Only when the Conservatives chose David Cameron did they show any sign of life. In those 13 years the party has provided such piss-poor opposition that the poisoned chalice they are desperate to seize is partly their own making.

Cameron, a breath of fresh air to the jaded, came from nowhere and had no achievements under his belt that would fill the man in the street with admiration. On the contrary his background – Eton and Bullingdon, followed by a spell in the public relations and media spin industry – has created an unfortunate image. His performance at Westminster is one of style over substance. The fact that he failed to register a clear electoral win over a clapped out and bankrupt opponent suggests he has been found out.

He has also failed to clean up his party, and I’m not talking about expense-fiddling. We now know, thanks in large part to Channel 4 Dispatches, that the Conservative Party has its palm greased by the Israel lobby and its brains washed by the neo-con groomers in Washington. Cameron is himself a self-declared Zionist and, like most of his colleagues, voted strongly for the Iraq war so cannot be trusted by those anxious for peace in the Middle East or anywhere else.

As for Labour, Gordon Brown is stepping down and the leadership is suddenly up for grabs. Who would Clegg find himself working with? It could be David Miliband. He too came from nowhere with no impressive achievements, no real-world experience beyond the inside of a think-tank and nothing to command respect on a Clapham omnibus.

Labour too is tarnished by its enslavement to America’s warped ambitions and Israel lobby pressure, so much so that it turned over our three defence and security committees to chairmen affiliated to Friends of Israel. Miliband also strongly backed the Iraq war and opposed an investigation. He’s also keen to change the law to provide a safe haven in Britain for foreigners wanted for war crimes.

Looked at from the other side, the Liberal Democrats themselves make a singularly unappealing “bride” and one that’s almost impossible to deal with. Bewitched by the EU they are loyal to foreign interests of another kind and keen to drive us even further into the gaping maw of that unaccountable, sovereignty-sapping monster. And being so mired in the EU they are unable to get tough on immigration.

And it’s time for them to be manly and stop sniveling about the voting system when more important issues need addressing. Yes, voting reform is important but it depends on what system the Liberal Democrats are pressing for and what their “suitors” agree to. Anything less than STV (single transferable vote) is not worth having. Anyway, a new voting system won’t push support for the Liberal Democrats above 25% unless they change their foolish policies.

All I hear from every side is the verdict: “A plague on all their houses!”

Perhaps Mr Clegg’s best option is to leave Cameron and Brown/Miliband to stew in their own juice, go home, prepare for the next election and pray for a miracle.


Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.

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