Mind you, it’s not like I’ll be voting Liberal Democrat without some reservations. Nick Clegg did well on the televised debates and made the most of the opportunity to sell himself to the general populace and muscle in on the usual two party domination. He’s a good speaker and a convincing leader who comes across as far more “normal” than the other two. Not difficult to look normal next to Gordon of course. Cameron, meanwhile, has always carried a whiff of implausibility about him: like he was built to order by Conservative Party HQ under the instructions “give us a Blair”. The best description I have ever read of David Cameron was by Caitlin Moran of The Times who declared him to be “like a C-3PO made of ham”, a “slightly camp gammon robot”. Absolutely spot on.
So Clegg has had a good campaign, but I still have issues with him and his party. I’m voting for them really for two reasons: 1) his party probably have the best opportunity of winning my constituency from the Tories and 2) I would like to see electoral reform and a hung Parliament with Clegg holding the balance of power is the best opportunity we have ever had to see this happen.
Serious doubts were raised in my mind about Clegg in the third and final debate when he touched upon the subject of the banking industry. Attacking the banks is such an obvious thing these days and I understand why politicians do it: it’s an easy, populist target. But when he’s banging on about how it’s necessary to separate high street banking from investment “casino” banking to avoid another crisis like the one we have just witnessed you realise he can’t understand what he is talking about. The consolidation of investment banks and retail banks had nothing to do with it, Nick. Lloyds TSB, HBOS and Northern Rock were all, exclusively, traditional lending banks. Meanwhile the major investment banks that went under, or nearly went under (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch) were all exclusively investment banks. Really the only bank (and, admittedly, a major player in the crisis) that combines both elements is RBS and there isn’t really any convincing argument that breaking it up into smaller parts would be of any particular benefit to anyone.