Weekly Review No.7: Clegg's Confession

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A short one for you this week, with only three stories, if I were you I'd blame Nick Clegg – everyone else does! This week, Clegg confesses all, Network Rail falls off the rails and Cameron backs a yes vote...in private.

1. Clegg's Confession

This week, Nick Clegg gave his first interview following the general election. Speaking on Nick Ferrari's LBC radio show, he set out his thoughts and feelings on the fate of the Liberal Democrats. He started by saying that the Lib Dems were right to go into coalition with Conservatives – “I agree with Nick”, they made a decision that was right for the country, but cost their own party dearly.

He also revealed something interesting, Clegg considered standing down after the party's disastrous European election showing in 2014. Ex-leader Paddy Ashdown and the then Party President Tim Farron convinced him not to. This makes sense, although no doubt many would disagree – by that point a new leader was unlikely to make a difference and Clegg was as good as any. If there was a new leader the Lib Dems would have still lost a massive number of seat and it would have destroyed the new leader's reputation before they started.

The Lib Dems lost the election for two main reasons – lack of trust (particular over tuition fees) and the SNP. The fear of a Labour government backed by the SNP lead to many natural Lib Dem voters to abandon the party for the "safe" Tory option. Interestingly in Scotland several Lib Dem were very close to winning, they lost very few votes, the main bulk of the SNP's vote came from the collapsed Labour vote.

2. Network Rail off the rails

In another week of North vs. South, the South won yet again. Last year, Network Rail announced a massive infrastructure investment – promising it'd be the largest since Victorian times. Now, the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughin has announced a "pause" on two major parts of that investment – the electrification of the Midland Mainline (Bedford-Sheffield) and the Trans-Pennine line (Manchester-Leeds). The government criticised Network Rail's plans as being "too ambitious," saying they should have foreseen these troubles. So much for the Northern Powerhouse!

These issues illustrate the problem with infrastructure spending in the UK – with projects in the North "paused" and projects relating to London continuing (the Great Western Mainline plans will not be delayed). Many will see it as the South benefiting over the North – despite the government's Northern Powerhouse promise. As Tim Farron has brilliantly been saying "it's insulting to say that all the North needs is a faster train to London" – he's right, after all what's the point in HS2 if when people arrive they can't go anywhere else.

3. And finally...Cameron speaks out about the EU...in private

A leaked note unearthed by The Guardian has revealed that David Cameron is pressing for a "firm" yes vote in the upcoming EU referendum. The Prime Minster said that he believed that people would vote for the status-quo if they thought the alternative was too risky. The note said that he intended to do that with the yes campaign.

Cameron did say that he "ruled nothing out" if he didn't get what we wanted from renegotiation – music to the ears of some Conservative Eurosceptics, but many will believe that Cameron will never campaign to leave.

That's it for another a week in politics, as always, let me know your opinions by commenting below or tweet me.
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