Now this is why I think Nick Clegg represents a much more engaging prospect for leader than the alternative. And I don’t say “the alternative” out of disrespect for Chris Huhne, by the way, so much as because the alternative could be any number of people and I would still think as much.
The story is essentially this:
Mr Clegg said last night: “If the legislation [to require people to provide information to the Home Office for ID cards] is passed I will lead a grassroots campaign of civil disobedience to thwart the identity cards programme … I, and I expect thousands of people like me, will simply refuse ever to register.”
No doubt some bright spark will ask the Tories if they might consider doing the same thing, and I would imagine they will say no, and then try to paint us as being immature, or witter something about “gesture politics” or somesuch. Well good. It should make it that much clearer who’s really driving opposition to this hideous, illiberal, inefficient, fallible scheme.
I’m pleased to see Nick actually doing something interesting; for a while there it was looking like his frontrunner status was going to leave him playing it safe unless pushed. It’s all very well to say you want to attract people outside of the normal realm of the politically engaged, but unless you give some indication of how you might do that (beyond what Steve Bell amusingly called “an explosion in a charisma factory“), it’s not worth a great deal. This is exactly the sort of thing that might genuinely excite people who usually couldn’t give a rat’s arse.
Meanwhile, Chris Huhne is looking for ways to catch people’s attention, but has so far not come up with anything nearly so interesting. OK, sure, policy purism will appeal to some in the party, and playing the “I will demand PR in any coalition” card is a standard move (Ming made it last time, of course). But Nick has highlighted exactly what he means by being a more outward looking party, one that engages in the politics that is taking place in a wider sense within the general population.
So I for one will be standing alongside Nick (and anyone else) breaking the law when the time comes.