David Cameron made much of the fact that he was in contact with Nick Clegg last Friday morning. The impression he wanted us to have was that Clegg was very much part of the decision. It now transpires that Cameron only telephoned him after 4am to tell him the deed had been done. Consultation was there none. Duplicitous Dave was up to his old tricks again.
Clegg didn’t have a clue what was going on. Apparently Cameron’s excuse for not contacting him earlier was the he was ‘having difficulty getting through to him’. Unlikely, he was too busy talking to ‘his’ people. According to those close to Cameron he was seldom off his Blackberry. Who was he talking to? Principally George Osborne, the man he considers to be his real number two. Clegg was clearly never in the loop.
Clegg’s first interview on Friday morning was a sorry affair. Poor chap realised that he’d been stuffed – again, and didn’t have the wit to speak his truth. It took a few stern voices from his party pals before he finally found his voice. His subsequent righteous indignation had a very hollow ring to it.
But could Clegg have made a difference to Friday’s outcome? If he’d been in the loop, yes. Whether he would have had the courage to put his foot down is another matter.
Cameron was certainly not going to allow Clegg to foil his plan, so he had to be kept in the dark about what he was really up to. But even at 4am could Clegg not have told Cameron a veto was a deal breaker? Probably not. It was too late – as Cameron would have judged. Clegg’s monumental error was that he didn’t insist that he was in the loop. Instead he was tucked up in bed. He was not only naive, but plain stupid. And plain stupid is perhaps what Mr Clegg is.