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Samizdata quote of the day

Has this sublime tradition, the tradition of Edward Coke and John Hampden, of James Harrington and Algernon Sidney, of John Milton and John Locke, of Pitt the Elder and Edmund Burke, of Earl Grey and Viscount Palmerston, of Richard Cobden and John Bright – and, yes, of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson truly found its quietus in the person of Nick Clegg? The thought is almost unbearable.

Dan Hannan

8 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • RAB

    As I said over on Counting Cats…

    “The Boy Clegg is a dead man walking. The Party is already tearing itself apart. And if the best you’ve got waiting in the wings is Uncle Vince… ye gods! they are going to be so fucked come 2015.”

  • Sam Duncan

    Hannan answers his own question. Clegg is the heir to the tradition of Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Shirley Williams, and The Other Bloke, not that lot.

    Of course, that the Liberal Party could even countenance a merger with socialists shows how far gone it was even then.

  • Mr Ed

    Perhaps the bulk of the politicians from the past were just as venal as our present crop, but we see them through the flattering mists of time?

  • RAB

    Well Lloyd George certainly was but then he was another bleedin Liberal, wasn’t he? They seem to have been “at it” in one way or another throughout the modern era.

    The fact is, in the past, we knew little of our politicians above what they wanted us to know (very French in that way). And until the 60’s and TW3 came along, and deference died, and broadcasters of the calibre of Robin Day arrived, interviews with politicians used to go… Can I ask you this question Minister?… And… Is there anything else you would like to tell us Minister? It may be rowdy these days, but it is much more real.

  • CaptDMO

    U.S., Too lazy to look it up, so……
    What sublime tradition is being celebrated?
    ALL I have to go on is ” …and, yes, of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson”
    Crapping in a chamber pot?
    Innovative, labor saving inventions?
    Excessive drink?
    Familiarity with the Qur’an? (Franklin PROBABLY was, Jefferson, most certainly)
    Slipping the salami to “passing fancies”?

  • Paul Marks

    The philosophical assumptions of the Old Whigs, that good and evil, right and wrong, are UNIVERSAL (a rejection of “historical stage” morality and what Edmund Burke attacked as “geographical morality”) and that humans were beings (capable of CHOOSING to do other than we do) were rejected as long ago as the early 19th century (by the Westminster Review crowd – the associates of J. Bentham and James and J.S. Mill).

    Just as the political assumptions of the Old Whigs were rejected (as long ago as the late 1700s) by the Bowood Circle (J. Bentham and co) – the ideas that government (BY ITS NATURE) could not do constructive things – and then people of property (the natural leaders of society – locally and nationally) should have the power to prevent government getting involved in Civil Society.

    Instead a New Liberalism grew up – which honoured such dark creatures of the past such as Thomas Hobbes and Sir William Petty (even Francis Bacon – of “The New Atlantis”) which held that as long as government was in the hands of wise people acting on behalf of the majority of people then it could do good constructive thing – hence Bentham’s 13 Departments of State.

    By the time of “Radical Joe” Chamberlain (the Radical Programme of 1865) this New Liberalism was fully formed and becoming powerful (as it already had been with Edwin Chadwick – and how did J.S. Mill oppose the work of Chadwick? in truth he did not really oppose it at all…….).

    “Nick” Clegg is indeed the logical conclusion of these philosophical and political developments.

    Reject the philosophy of the Old Whigs and the defeat of their politics is (in the end) the result.

  • Pardone

    Clegg is not a Liberal, he’s a Orange Book careerist (as indeed are all the Orange Bookers, the fag Laws, the X-man, and the Beaker especially).

    Lloyd George was the Clegg of his day, albeit Clegg is LG without the charisma and cunning. Both have sacrificed their party for office, and both are rightly hated for it. Margot Asquith’s quote, “he wouldn’t see a belt without hitting below it”, sums up LG completely, as does DH Lawrence.

    Clegg is no Gladstone or Asquith, men who would have both easily crushed a corporate PR lick-spittle like Cameron like an insect, and would have certainly not become his poodles.

    Nick Clegg is a man so stupid he didn’t go for Confidence and Supply even though it was clearly the better option. If he had done so, he would not be in the mess he is in.

  • Paul Marks

    Actually the Orange Book people are the less bad among the Lib Dems (Mr Clegg is now on bad terms with some of them).

    Also I have trouble seeing the connection between Gladstone (who wanted a smaller government) and Asquith (who was content with a bigger one – under the banner of “Social Reform”).

    Asquith would seem to have more in common with Balfour (the Conservative Party leader of his day – another person in favour of “Social Reform”).

    The Liberal Party really broke with Gladstone in the early 1890s – over graduated income tax and “death duties” the party that had once been committed to getting rid of income tax (and had almost done so in the early 1870s) was now in favour of a “Progressive” income tax (the worst kind)and a death tax as well.

    Gladstone was forced out a couple of years later – by Lord Roseberry going over to the side of Harcourt.

    According to “we are all socialists now” Harcourt, Gladstone left voluntarily and their were tears of friendship on all sides.

    According the others – Gladstone left with “a few cold words” (no blubbing) understanding that both he and liberalism had been betrayed.