7 November 2011

Thinking Paper #190 - What are the Lib Dems so happy about?

By Samuel Stopp, Co-Editor of The Starr Blog


They are agents in a world on the verge of another economic crisis, a government running out of steam and a party polling some its lowest ever figures. And yet, somehow, the Lib Dems still seem to gurn more than any of the other parties’ MPs. It’s annoying and it’s inexplicable. And yet, in a way, it’s rather admirable.

What are the Lib Dems so happy about?

Take Nick Clegg. Shortly before the General Election, the nauseating idea arose that the people of Britain were falling in love with ‘Cleggover.’ Clegg’s half-decent performances in the leaders’ debates won him a disproportionate amount of plaudits from a press desperately hoping that a dull Election campaign would catch fire. Now, you would think that after everything that’s happened since coming to power, the Lib Dem Leader would be a little po-faced by now. And yet, every time I see him sitting behind Cameron at PMQs, he’s not only smiling, he’s smirking ... a little bit like a man who’s just released a very silent – but deadly – fart.

And then there’s Danny Alexander – a man with a very peculiar countenance indeed. His face positively twitches with amusement. He seems to have to actively struggle to stop himself from throwing his head back and laughing every time a poor little journo like Andrew Marr asks him a serious question. Watch him next time you see him being interviewed, and you’ll see what I mean. His face has an inbuilt smile-suppresser.

And of course, we must not forget Saint Vince – that lovable old chap who we were all told was some sort of wise seer on economic matters before the Election. He’s not looking so clever right now, especially after he was caught in a honey trap by a couple of giggling students. Giggling can sometimes cancel out smiling, or so it seems. Now, Vince isn’t your regular kind of gurner. He’s subtle, and I praise him for that, but his smile is the weirdest of all – a sort of tragic, upside down smile. I think the cynics call it a sad face. I’m not sure. I think Vince loves power, as do all the Lib Dems. No, Vince is happy all right, a little like Gollum was delirious with joy as he toppled into the fires of Mount Doom with the Ring of Power finally back in his possession.


And so I wonder if there is a clue in all of this insipid grinning. After all, a little-known playwright once noted how strange and unsettling it is that one may smile and smile and be a villain.

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