A key part of the solution focused approach is learning from what works but there is a significant difficulty in learning about what is working. Sometimes it is not obvious. Sometimes it works for a while and then it stops working. So when I started this blog I have scanned the papers pretty much every day for stories about the Lib Dems to see if there was anything that was being said about the party, or people in it, which has gained praise. This will highlight what the mainstream media believe the party is doing well with the hope that we can see what is working for us. Almost 1 year ago I posted the summary of the first year of this in the posts:
Another year has passed and I have continued to scan the papers. This isn’t a strict methodological approach, it depends on how much time I have had, which varies. But this gives a flavour of what has been seen as positive for Nick Clegg, the Lib Dems and Lib Dem Ministers. I will post the other 2 this week but this is the post for Nick Clegg.
The themes that came up this year were in relation to his skill as a politician, which has developed since he became DPM; his bravery in the positions he has taken; and his principled stances relating to being a liberal. I will give an analysis of what we can learn and what we can do differently in a week or so but here is the summary of the 2nd year of praise for Nick Clegg:
The Independent believe Nick Clegg has the knowledge, the experience and the vocabulary to speak not just with conviction and sympathy, but in a way that can be readily understood. They say this makes him unique as a senior British politician.
The Guardian started to think that Nick Clegg was getting the hang of power-sharing saying he found found a more effective voice with which to articulate Lib Dem hopes, fears and achievements.
The Guardian praised Clegg for putting on a good show at Conference saying he tamed the party through his usual, smart three-step process of empathy-values-action and concluded with ‘is Clegg an improvement on Campbell? Immeasurably.’
The Independent praises Clegg for regularly highlighting distinctive contributions from the Lib Dems, managing the balance between distinctiveness and Coalition unity, and more effectively than before. They state that he is in a stronger position as for the first time in decades the Lib Dems command attention and wield power.
The Daily Mail believe Clegg has Cameron under his control, preventing him from taking decisions that Conservatives think are necessary.
The Observer praise Clegg for being a cunning manipulator who has David Cameron wrapped around his little Lib Dem finger.
The Daily Telegraph state that Nick Clegg has worked out how to use the Government machine, which is bad news for the Right. They believe that the Lib Dem influence is on the rise within government because Nick Clegg is getting better at being Deputy Prime Minister. They say Clegg has now learnt the tricks of the Whitehall trade where parts of the Civil Service have come to see him as a useful ally, and are giving him the support and advice that he needs to block Tory ministers’ plans.
The Daily Telegraph believe that ‘Prime Minister David Cameron’s Liberal Democrat deputy has quietly emerged as the more successful Whitehall operator’. They state that he is ‘a very cool operator indeed’ where the Liberal Democrats’ achievements in the negotiations on the Coalition agreement were impressive and not in what the party gained but what he has blocked and state that ‘whatever happens, Clegg will be in the midst of it – polite, influential, under-scrutinised and enduring as ever, despite the opprobrium heaped on his head’.
The Guardian praised Nick Clegg for delivering a polished performance – more relaxed and less defensive or self-righteous than he has often been this past year of high office
Alistair Campbell even praised Clegg for having learnt the lessons of the early days of government.
The Daily Telegraph state that he is a better and braver politician than his poll ratings indicate
The Independent praise him for showing more boldness, with well-timed speeches which worked on many levels
The Guardian praised Clegg for ‘bravely’ opening budget negotiations in broad daylight, saying that at the very least he is developing the discourse in a positive way.
The Daily Telegraph praised Clegg for an impassioned and impressive defence of the Human Rights Act. They state that Mr Clegg’s dare-to-be-different approach, which may rescue his dented standing, is born out of conviction as well as expediency
The Guardian praised Clegg after the riots for being first back from holiday and that his instinct to go out and face voter anger was correct and may stand him in good stead when the boos are forgotten.
The Daily Express was impressed with ‘Clegg’s term’ alarm clock Britain.
Peter Mandelson even gave him some praise saying since May, Mr Clegg has succeeded in looking less meek and hard done-by. He has found a stronger voice and has benefited from this.
The Daily Telegraph praise Clegg for speaking out on the economy when he said it is a “universal principle” that money is best left in the hands of the people who earned it. They went on to say that the Deputy Prime Minister is coming to define the Government’s economic narrative.
The Independent believes that Clegg is the purest liberal to lead his party since its formation and that Clegg’s form of liberalism with a focus on redistribution, social mobility, Europe, and radical constitutional reform shows that, contrary to a widespread perception a year ago, Clegg is not a Conservative.
The New Statesman praised Clegg for sounding distinctly and dissentingly liberal after the riots. They thought one of his articles was a thoughtful piece on human rights which was not populist.
The Daily Telegraph praised Clegg for his stance on crime when he suggested there should be a focus on restorative justice.
The Daily Telegraph praised Clegg for his stance on free speech saying ‘he understands that in essence, liberalism isn’t about outcomes but about process; what matters to him is not that people make particular choices, but that they have the freedom to choose’.