2nd year of Praise for the Lib Dems: Collected praise from the mainstream media for the Lib Dems

What are the Lib Dems doing well at? From one day to another we may have a different answer to that question because of what people say and what we read and hear. It is useful to review what we are doing well as a party, beyond the ‘achievements’. The papers write a fair amount about the Lib Dems these days but not all of it is good but when we look at what the party has been praised for over the last year we can see that there are some things which come out as themes: We are providing good government, we are having a significant influence in government, there needs to be a liberal voice and our party is an effective one:

Good government

The Daily Telegraph acknowledge that mistakes have been made since 2010 but state that this has still been the best government for a generation, led by men and women for the most part of decency and goodwill. They praise Clegg and Cameron’s skill and admirable personal forbearance that the project has lasted as long as it has.

The Independent praise the Lib Dems for improving the Government stating that the last Labour government would have been improved by coalition with the Lib Dems: no Iraq; no imprisonment without trial; civil liberties upheld.

The Guardian report that the government-watchers at UCL’s Constitution Unit say the Lib Dems have been better at organising backbench committees to monitor policies

University and College Union say that the government should be applauded for appearing to listen to the experts in the case.


The Independent believe that the Liberal Democrats have punched above their weight in the Coalition.

The Daily Mail believe that the Lib Dems have provided parts of the Government agenda which have an ‘unmistakable Liberal Democrat feel to them’. They state that ‘the Lib Dems, though representing only one sixth of the Government in terms of MPs, get their way over a very much larger proportion of Government measures’. But more importantly they acknowledge that they exercise their power by what policies they keep out as well as by what they get in.

The Daily Telegraph state that the Lib Dems are better at trading in public with the Tories.

The Guardian believe the Lib Dems have put their distinctive stamp on several progressive announcements and that there are many areas that bear the mark of Lib Dem pressure inside the coalition.

The Independent state that ‘there is no argument'; the Liberal Democrats and their leader, Nick Clegg, have played a political blinder this past 18 months. They praise the fact that the Lib Dems have kept a British coalition government in being against all odds, with no sign of it collapsing in the near future. They praise the fact that they are not just sustaining a regime but have had a restraining influence on it.

The Guardian praise Lib Dem ministers for being more assertive in government.

The Daily Telegraph state that Lib Dem influence is on the rise within government due to a change in strategy.

The Guardian praise changes in the Lib Dem strategy stating that they are ‘finally conducting themselves as an independent party’ and succeeding.


The Independent praise the Lib Dems for insisting on a political agenda rooted in civil liberties, internationalism, human rights, political reform, responsible capitalism and fighting climate change and state that this is a powerful reminder of the Lib Dems’ uniqueness.

The Guardian praise the Lib Dem position on Europe saying they were right to fight their corner publicly.

The New Statesman praise the Lib Dems for being hawkish on the deficit, liberal on social policy and populist on bankers; thriftier than Labour but nicer than the Tories, the Lib Dems are squatting stubbornly, sometimes chaotically, in the middle of British politics.

Effective Party

The Independent state that the Liberal Democrats have either been the most maverick party in Britain or the most democratic.

The Guardian believe the Lib Dems have always been a more resilient party than people think and that they have proved extraordinarily disciplined and that this is one thing that people have consistently underestimated about the Lib Dems. They go on to praise Mr Clegg for becoming increasingly aggressive in an effort to reassert his differences with the Conservatives.

The Guardian praise the Liberal Democrats policy-making and democratic conference.

The Guardian state that the Lib Dems, both in government and more widely, are a more resilient and coherent party than their critics generally allow and that the Lib Dems exist for reasons that still make sense. They highlight that the Lib Dems stand for priorities that are distinctly different from those of their Conservative partners and that they are in the middle of proving that coalition governments can work. They praise this fact saying it is an underestimated achievement.

The Independent say the Lib Dems observed the hacking scandal from the comfort of the moral high ground and that the party went into conference in reasonably good shape.

The Guardian praise the fact that the Lib Dems were the only one of the three main parties that hasn’t spent the last two decades trying to curry favour with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. And praise them for being the only ones with the guts to try to halt its remorseless advance.

The Daily Telegraph state that the Lib Dems have remained largely loyal and united and believe that Clegg is using his new confidence to pull the Coalition towards the Left

2nd Year of Praise for Lib Dem Ministers: Strengths of Lib Dem Ministers in 2nd year of being in Government

Another year of following the papers looking for positive news stories about the Lib Dem ministers has produced more praise for Lib Dem ministers. So Vince Cable, Chris Huhne, Steve Webb and Danny Alexander get praise for their efforts.

Vince Cable

The Guardian state that few politicians could manage contrition with Cable’s conviction as ‘he speaks human so well’.

The Guardian believed he speaks with authority on the economy and banking reform concluding ‘his prophet status has been restored’.

The Daily Telegraph believes that any serious and objective consideration of Mr Cable’s record in office shows that he has been a formidable Cabinet minister and an important ally of enterprise. They credit him for the recent small surge of inward investment into Britain and praise him for not grabbing all the credit. They see him as the moral centre of gravity for the Coalition and of British public life.

The Sun praise him for getting results in his job as Minister.

The Independent praise him for standing up to the Prime Minister over immigration, tax-cutting Tories, casino bankers, universities and Rupert Murdoch.

Chris Huhne

The Independent believe that Mr Huhne was regarded as an effective minister because of his “nerves of steel”, ability to “compartmentalise” and carry on as normal when the threat of prosecution hung over him.

The Independent highlighted that he earned useful headlines for a party whose presence in the Tory-led government is often forgotten.

The Guardian states that Huhne won plaudits for his performances abroad and that he had an indefinable big beast quality that put him on a par with Nick Clegg and Vince Cable, making him a voice on economics and Europe inside the cabinet to which people listened, even if they disagreed (see here).

The Guardian praised Huhne for being a strong minister who ran his department well, stood bravely for the green agenda, and fought his corner effectively. They also believe that he played an important role in the coalition cabinet as the voice of the more social democratic wing of the Lib Dem team.

The Observer said that he brought a passion for the green agenda combined with the intellect and the clout to increase the influence of a department often previously dismissed as a bit of a Whitehall lightweight.

The Independent admired Huhne for his work as Climate Change Secretary, but even more so as a staunch Cabinet defender of the ‘civilised values’

Even ConservativeHome praised Huhne for being one of the government’s most effective ministers

Steve Webb

The London Evening Standard praised Webb for being one of the best pensions minister we have had in a generation

Danny Alexander

The Daily Telegraph believe Alexander has become the Tories’ favourite Liberals, saying he has proved himself in combat.

The Guardian praised him for his ‘delicate negotiations’ with the trade unions over pension reform, saying ‘there is steel there, perhaps born of unselfconsciousness’.

2nd year of praise for Nick Clegg: His strengths in his 2nd year of being DPM

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’.

In Praise of the Guardian: Finding strengths in Vince Cable

The Guardian, or more precisely Polly Toynbee, wrote Now is the perfect time for Liberal Democrats to wield the knife in which she spouts a large amount of bile to the point that it is very difficult to read anything she writes these days, but I did persevere and she has some positive comments about Vince Cable which I thought was interesting and worth repeating:

Few politicians could manage contrition with Cable’s conviction – he speaks human so well.

A journey of a thousand miles, starts with the first step…

In Praise of the Independent: Finding strengths in Nick Clegg

The Independent write At last, a politician fluent in European in which they offer some praise for Nick Clegg which is worth reading:

But the Deputy Prime Minister had one of his finest hours when he went to Berlin to speak on Europe and then presented the same case – for the benefits of the European Union and why Britain had to play a full part in it… 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. This makes him almost unique: a senior British politician capable of making a compelling case for Europe. As Tory Eurosceptics sense the wind in their sails, he should do this more often. Nick Clegg may just have found his role.

In Praise of the Daily Telegraph: Finding strengths in Vince Cable

The Daily Telegraph write Leave Business Secretary Vince Cable alone – he’s the moral centre of this Coalition in which they give some praise for Vince Cable which is worth reading:

I believe that any serious and objective consideration of Mr Cable’s record in office shows that he has been a formidable Cabinet minister, an important ally of enterprise, and, above all, one of the most loyal and supportive members of this Government… Mr Cable deserves the bulk of the praise for the recent small surge of inward investment into Britain, though characteristically he has not tried to grab all the credit… Mr Cable is a new type of politician… Mr Cable has managed to stay loyal to the Coalition without surrendering his identity… Mr Cable is now in that very interesting place: he is the moral centre of gravity for the Coalition and of British public life. If Nick Clegg, as widely expected, steps down as Lib Dem leader before the general election, Mr Cable – should he decide to run – is highly likely to replace him. His best years may lie ahead.

In Praise of The Sun: Finding strengths in Vince Cable

In ‘The Heroes and Villains of Westminster‘ in The Sun they consider Vince Cable this weeks hero and have some very positive words to say about him which are worth reading:

Take a bow, Vince Cable. For the blunt-speaking Business Secretary has secured a fantastic deal that has saved Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory in Cheshire from closure. The decision by General Motors means £125 million of new investment and 700 extra jobs on top of the 2,100-strong workforce. And it all happened after Mr Cable jumped on a plane to Detroit in March to urge GM bosses to back the UK over Germany. Looks like it was well worth him going the extra mile. As his colleagues snipe over firms that are “not working hard enough”, this Cabinet minister has quietly got on with his job and boosted business for Britain.

In Praise of the Daily Mail: Finding strengths in the Lib Dems

The Daily Mail write A prisoner of the Lib Dems? I’m afraid I take that with a very generous pinch of salt, Mr Cameron in which they have some praise for the Lib Dems which is worth reading:

For their part, the Lib Dems undeniably inserted some proposals in the speech which a Tory-only government would not have included, of which the time-consuming and potentially divisive reform of the House of Lords is the most obvious. Proposals to extend ‘flexi-time’ and corral giant supermarket chains into dealing fairly with their suppliers also have an unmistakable Liberal Democrat feel to them.

We CAN argue about whether this or that measure is Conservative or Lib Dem, but the overall picture is surely clear. As has invariably been the case throughout the Coalition’s two-year existence, the Lib Dems, though representing only one sixth of the Government in terms of MPs, get their way over a very much larger proportion of Government measures.

No less importantly, they exercise their power by what policies they keep out as well as by what they get in. They have vetoed reform to human rights law, as Mr Cameron rightly says, as well as plans to repatriate powers from Europe, which the Conservatives had promised to do in their election manifesto.

In Praise of the Daily Telegraph: Finding strengths in the Lib Dems

The Daily Telegraph write This fine Coalition government won’t see out 2013 – what a shame for Britain in which there is some considerable praise for this Government and the Lib Dems which is well worth reading:

Plenty of mistakes have been made since 2010, but this has nevertheless been the best government for a generation, led by men and women for the most part of decency and goodwill. Important steps have been taken towards addressing the financial deficit, while the reforms to welfare and education are essential to the health of Britain as a nation and will soon be irreversible… It is only thanks to the skill and admirable personal forbearance of Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron that the project has lasted as long as it has.

In Praise of the Daily Telegraph: Finding strengths in the Lib Dems

The Daily Telegraph write The high cost of coalition: Tory policies are evaporating as the tail wags the dog which is not a very positive piece on the Lib Dems but it does offer this, which is worth highlighting:

On the economy, the most important subject of the lot, the Government does much of its ongoing trading in public. The Lib Dems, smaller and wanting coalition to be permanent, are better at this.


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