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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > November 2016 > Splitting the Liberal difference

Splitting the Liberal difference

Nick Clegg calls for moderation, but others in his party have fiercer ideas, says Miranda Green

Politics: Between the Extremes

by Nick Clegg (Bodley Head, £20)

The Death of Liberal Democracy?

by David Boyle and Joe Zammit-Lucia (Radix, £11.99)

What is the opposite of populism? When it comes to the Liberal Democrats, crueller readers will be tempted to say unpopularity. But for Nick Clegg, like many other mainstream politicians now stranded in a raging electoral storm, the antidote is liberalism and rediscovering a rational approach to making democratic choices.

“Populism,” he writes, “offers anger without solutions.” Meanwhile, “liberalism may not be the loudest voice in politics… but it is a voice of calm reason, which—once lost— would be much missed.”

A year ago, recently ejected from government and one of only eight remaining Lib Dem MPs, his days as both party leader and deputy prime minister over, Clegg was once again the relaxed and blooming star turn at his party’s conference. He basked in the Bournemouth sunshine and the slightly unexpected congratulations of a crop of new Lib Dem members: many of them had joined the party in response to his resignation speech, a Liberal call to arms. Both Vince Cable and Clegg himself—so miserable on the government benches during most of the Coalition—have seemed like souls released from torment since the 2015 election.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s November issue: Sam Tanenhaus argues Donald Trump is a consequence of the American government ignoring the people—and they’ll have to deal with his impact whether he wins or loses the presidential election. Diane Roberts explores the rage eating America by looking at the people that government has failed. Switching the focus to the UK, David Marquand and a quartet of commentators assess Labour’s position—with varying conclusions. Also in this issue: Matthew Qvortrup looks at the relationship between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, two of Europe’s most important politicians whose lives have long been intertwined. Andy Burnham, Labour’s candidate for the mayor of Manchester, lays down the reasons why the northern powerhouse is so important and Prospect’s Arts and Books Editor Sameer Rahim reviews Zadie Smith’s latest novel.