Can anyone, anywhere, trust Nick Clegg?
What is it about the Liberal Democrats and drawn-out scandals?
No one does scandal like the men in sandals. The yellows have had to endure a leader charged with attempted murder, another too drunk to stay in his post, and one found with his pants down. In their time, they've boasted a Chief Secretary to the Treasury who was fiddling his expenses days into the job, an MP busted in bed with rent boys, and a colleague of his caught using gay chatlines.
Add to that relationships with teenage girls, kinky leather-clad sex parties, a former minister set to be jailed, and a former party chief executive facing sex pest allegations.
Just what is it with the Liberal Democrats?
Yesterday, Vicky Pryce was found guilty of perverting the course of justice. Within minutes the story was no longer about her, not even about Chris Huhne, but somehow - almost inexplicably - about Nick Clegg.
Pryce alleges that before her story came out in the papers, she told Miriam Clegg - the Deputy Prime Minister’s wife - that she had taken Huhne’s speeding points. Not only that, Pryce says she also revealed all to Vince Cable and Lord Oakeshott, the high-pitched and highly strung Lib Dem peer.
Here is Clegg’s now infamous initial statement denying all knowledge of the Lord Rennard allegations, from two weeks ago:
“I would like to make one thing crystal clear. I did not know about these allegations until Channel 4 informed the party of them shortly before they were broadcast.”
Here is his wife yesterday:
“I have never ever been told by Vicky or anybody else about the traffic points story. I got to know about this when everybody else did.”
And Cable (via a spokesperson, after his Usain Bolt impersonation running away from reporters):
“Vince and Rachel [Cable’s wife] have no recollection of the issue of points being raised with them over the course of dinner with Vicky Pryce on 28 January 2011. They have consulted their personal records which confirm that the issue first came to their attention in May 2011 when the story broke in the press."
Spot the difference. Two different scandals, three identical responses. I knew nothing about the allegations at the time, I only found out when they were reported in the press. It is worth looking again. All three explicitly they say they were not told, then say they only learned of the truth in the press. Identical.
There is a long way to go before we get to the bottom of the Rennard scandal; probably even longer until we fully understand quite what happened with Huhne. But one question, above all else, will not go away. Vicky Pryce might be a convicted criminal, her word is hardly gospel. But can anyone, anywhere, ever really trust Nick Clegg?
Alex Wickham is The Commentator's UK Political Editor and a reporter at the Guido Fawkes website. He is a contributor to their column in The Sun newspaper. He tweets at @WikiGuido
Read more on: nick clegg, liberal democrats, chris huhne, Vince Cable, vicky pryce, and Alex Wickham
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