Something to Say with Keith Newbery: Nick Clegg... desperately trying to re-establish Lib Dem credentials

SOMEONE ought to tell Nick Clegg to calm down and stop trying so hard.

Since the abject humiliation following his three different reactions to David Cameron’s conduct at the Eurozone summit, he has been dashing about the place desperately trying to re-establish his Lib Dem credentials.

It has got to the stage where he feels compelled to counter every philosophical utterance from Number Ten.

It looks crass and naive as he indulges in a succession of ‘oh yes I will’ ‘oh no you won’t’ exchanges with a man who will always have the last word.

It all started when Cameron – buoyed by the polls bounce provided by his part in the recent Brussels melodrama – decided to pile up a few more brownie points with his back-benchers.

First came the reminder that Britain was a Christian country and that it was time for public figures (he meant the Archbishop of Canterbury) to teach right from wrong.

It was a slap on the wrist the fuzzy old prelate had deserved for some time, and he may now get back to his primary function - reviving a dying church.

Clegg may have been aching to get involved, but as an avowed atheist he had nothing worthwhile to contribute on this particular issue.

This is why he snapped into action a couple of days later when Cameron announced his intention to provide tax breaks for married couples.

But Clegg’s response was lamentably ill-judged as he accused the Prime Minister of yearning for an idealised vision of Britain in the fifties - completely ignoring the fact that the Tories’ plans also include gay couples in civil partnerships.

Now the Germans have chipped in to make Christmas at the Cleggs even less joyous than it might have been.

Contrary to the Lib Dem leader’s insistence that Britain was now isolated within Europe, Frau Merkel has authorised friendly overtures to be made.

Embarrassed by the splenetic reaction of Monsieur Sarkozy since the Franco-German master-plan started to come unstitched, she now believes compromises can be reached with the UK.

Apparently, we are now regarded as ‘indispensable partners’ - which is more than can be said of Messrs Cameron and Clegg.

No wonder the Lib Dem leader does not favour special concessions for permanent relationships of any kind.

DAVID Cameron must have known he was offering up a massive hostage to fortune when he expressed the view that ‘we’re all in it together’.

It has returned to nibble his backside a couple of times since, but the allegation that the taxman has cost the country £25b by making cosy arrangements with big business is hugely buttock-threatening.

Ordinary people have already been taken to the brink of open mutiny by the financial yoke placed upon them in response to a crisis for which they had little or no responsibility.

Now they find themselves regarded as easy targets by an HMRC fighting shy of confrontation with the giant corporations.

It’s a festering boil which needs to be lanced – and quickly.