After retiring from politics, most politicians are concerned with their legacy, and how they enhance, improve, or build upon their record in government. It is therefore fitting that the award for the weirdest post-political job goes to the politician who seemingly doesn’t care about this obvious fact. The award goes to former Liberal Democrat leader, and former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who accepted a position at Facebook as their chief lobbyist.
I have to say when I learnt that Mr Clegg had agreed to help Facebook essentially frustrate democratic governments’, and impartial regulator’s attempts to regulate and scrutinise Facebook properly, I couldn’t help but laugh. Aside from the seven-figure salary that Facebook are paying him, it is truly a sad end to a dismal political career. To his credit Clegg ran an impressive campaign in 2010, Cleggmania anyone? However, Clegg’s legacy was in tatters from the moment he entered signed the Coalition agreement which bound him raising tuition fees, which he arrogantly calculated wouldn’t cost him any electoral capital, and fundamentally failing to secure electoral reform to a more proportional voting system. This, in conjunction with supporting the highly illiberal policy of cutting back on government services doomed his party to an electoral wipe out in 2015, and as it stands I fail to see how his party will recover.
Yet rather than try and utilise his political expertise and influential voice to advance the liberal cause, such as campaigning against Brexit. Clegg has made the decision to work for potentially one of the most illiberal companies in the world, if recent revelations are anything to go by. The optimist, or indeed his spin doctor, would argue that Clegg will try and help Facebook rebuild public trust by ensuring that its practices are above board, and thus maintain cordiale relations with governments. However any politico will tell you that companies don’t just twiddle their thumbs when governments propose legislation that will directly affect their business. Clegg will therefore almost certainly be deployed to protect Facebook’s shady interests, which recent revelations have revealed are undermining our democracies and our privacy. So neither a Liberal nor a Democratic legacy for this man.