Last week I mentioned that as a result of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg's storming performance on the live televised Leader's Debate (if only as a result of him not being leader of the Conservatives or the Labour Party) that the knives would be out for him.
And with the second leadership debate on air tonight in the UK, that prediction had proved correct.
Most of the main newspapers in Britain are conservative ones — and conservative in the way that make Fox News look like Air America. And, today, all the front pages of all these newspapers, selling millions of copies across the country, have been going to war with Nick Clegg. Waking up to them, his wife might as well have tipped his breakfast in bed over his head (including the scalding coffee) as hand him the papers.
Old warhorse, The Daily Mail led with a front page splash "Clegg Nazi Slur on Britain" and referred to an eight-year-old newspaper article it had unearthed in which Clegg talked of Britain, saying: "A misplaced sense of superiority, sustained by delusions of grandeur and a tenacious obsession with the last war, is much harder to shake off. We need to be put back in our place." That, however, wasn't good enough for The Mail. It unloaded two further barrels into the Clegg camapign, first alleging that Clegg had accepted payments from donors for his own personal bank account to pay towards a researcher, and then that Hilary Stephenson — Mr Clegg's campaigns and elections director — was responsible for encouraging expenses scams.
None of these were what you could call new stories, but Nick Clegg's sudden rise to ascendancy had forced The Daily Mail to dig deep and get desperate. And it was not alone. The Daily Telegraph led with the donors story, while The Daily Express had "Cleggs's Crazy Immigration Policy," which outlined his desire to let those seeking asylum in Britain work while waiting for their case to be addressed. Meanwhile, The Sun called him a "Wobble Democrat" over Afghanistan and immigration policy, with a later edition re-imagined as "Fried Clegg."
Those amusing headlines that The Daily Show uses? Business as usual for the front pages of UK newspapers. Although what wasn't business as usual was James Murdoch and Sun representatives storming The Independent newspaper earlier today to complain against The Independent's attacks on The Sun's partisan covering of the election so far. A partisan nature that they've previously taken pride in.
Which is the equivalent of a troll finishing his rendition of "I'm a troll, fol-de-rol" for the sixty-eight time and then getting incensed when someone calls him a troll.
So ludicrous have these desperate attacks been that Labour Party media manipulator Lord Mandelson, has defended Nick Clegg against them, blaming the Conservative Party for smears, with other senior Labour Party members following suit.
Of course they have. If the Liberal Democrats do well, they may deprive the Conservatives of a majority, creating a hung Parliament. And if Labour can manage a deal with the Liberal Democrats to remove Gordon Brown as leader as a result, well, one of those senior Labour members will be first in line to take the top job…
Sneaky, sneaky cross partisanship support.
But not everyone is buying the smears. Right now, on Twitter, there's a mad parody movement to blame everything in the world on Nick Clegg — just check #nickcleggsfault for simple examples such as, "Just burned my mouth on a cup of tea. This is all #NickCleggsFault," to the more esoteric "Garbage Pail Kids the movie was so #nickcleggsfault." I have personally just added that "The trending of #nickcleggsfault is totally #nickcleggsfault." Let's see if that explodes anyone's brains.
In other news, the Conservatives are doing their best to move from bigots to liberals over topics such as sexual orientation. But the cracks still show. On the same day that the Tories send a senior out gay Conservative out to talk to their European Parliament coalition group — one that has been criticised for homophobia — Cameron's shadow defence secretary, and the man who wants to be in charge of Britain's gay-integrated armed forces, says that age of consent amongst gay people should be raised higher than for straight people to prevent the spread of AIDS.
They do it on purpose, don't they? They must.
Tags: Conservative Party (UK), Gordon Brown, Indecision Internationale, Labour Party (UK), LGBT, Liberal Democrat Party (UK), Nick Clegg, United Kingdom