What an unfortunate result for England. Cameron is bad enough. It was reported at VFR that Cameron said on arriving at No.10,
Compared with a decade ago, this country is more open at home and more compassionate abroad and that is something we should all be grateful for.
So Cameron approves of Blair and Brown's transformation of the UK over the past decade. That's not a promising start for a supposedly conservative leader.
Clegg himself believes that Cameron is on a mission to "decontaminate" the Conservative Party of any residual conservatism:
No wonder David Cameron and George Osborne have sought to lay claim to the word progressive to describe their plans for Britain; it is the final frontier for them, the last step in their decontamination of the Conservative brand.
Clegg is no better than Cameron. Last year he wrote an essay titled "The Liberal Moment". He declares in this essay that the nation state is redundant. Society is now happily atomised, there is no longer a national identity, and therefore there is no need for "collectivist" organisation - except at the international level:
We live in a more atomised society where people are no longer rigidly defined by class or place. Our society is no longer trapped by a culture of diffidence and hierarchy.
The capacity of the nation state to act for its citizens has been dramatically diluted as globalisation has undermined its powers. The increasing accessibility of international air travel and new technologies like the internet have radically stretched people’s physical and conceptual horizons. New forms of religious and ethnic identity have dissolved the traditional glue that held the identity of nations together. In short, we live in a more fluid, less deferential world ...
Clegg believes that the Labour Party isn't sufficiently internationalist:
Labour has lost its ideological way ... They are unsure how to deal with a globalised world in which the nation state is no longer the correct locus of power. They are unsure how to react to the way people have been empowered by technology, travel and prosperity and are no longer willing to subordinate themselves to a collective whole in the name of a supposed ‘common good’ ...
So we have been "empowered" to enjoy an atomised existence in which we no longer have to connect ourselves to a "common good".
In the same essay, Clegg also lists "social radicalism in education" as one of his "liberal beliefs".
It was Nick Clegg who saw progressive opportunities during the recession. With men losing their jobs, he thought the moment had come to push ahead with a unisex family life. Men could "reinvent" themselves as house husbands or child carers. Employers could be threatened if they attempted to sack women. Gender could be made not to matter in family life:
For many [men], full-time work remains the anchor of their identity ... Yet a savage recession, like a war, shakes the traditional identity of men and women. In the Second World War it had a liberating effect of sorts. By 1943 more than 7.25 million women were employed, two million more than before the war ...
As this recession bears down on thousands of communities and families we must again be open to reinventing ourselves. Many men will be forced to let go of their earlier identities and try something new ... And many women may become the only family breadwinner for the first time. For many couples this will be unsettling and deeply disruptive to the settled patterns of life, work and marriage. A new flexibility in which men and women are supported in reinventing themselves will be vital in helping many thousands of families through this recession ...
For women, this means that Government must come down hard on employers who appear to be sacking them more readily than men ... Active support - including free legal advice - must be given to women ...
But some of the biggest changes that still need to take place are in the traditional perceptions of “male” work. Some months ago I suggested that more men should take up jobs in nurseries as childminders. At present, only 1 per cent of childminders are men ...
Rigidity in how parental leave is structured must change too. Mothers can take up to a year, fathers only two weeks ... But this split is out of step with the reality of many modern families, and discourages fathers from making a commitment to the care of their own children ...
The present rules make it almost impossible for young mothers to go back to work early, even if their husbands and partners are ready to stay at home
It is high time we moved into line with other European countries where interchangeable parental leave has long been the norm.
You might have seen photos or footage during the UK election of Cameron, Clegg and Brown standing together in their shiny suits. Three clean cut looking Anglo men (Brown less clean cut perhaps) all putting on a show of respectability.
But all three of them are committed to the liberal project. In one sense, they are all radicals, as none of them is committed to a defence of their own tradition. For Clegg a "determination to preserve, protect and defend" is an error of conservatism; he describes himself as being motivated instead by "a political ideology that stems from a restless, optimistic ambition for change and transformation."
He is a radical in a suit. He is still running on liberal ideology, still a follower of J.S. Mill, even as the damage done by liberalism mounts.
The failure to disengage from liberalism is still there. It is painful to watch. I can only hope that there are some younger Brits who are paving the way for something different politically.