FROM Oasis to Meat Loaf, the SECC in Glasgow has been host to some stellar rock acts.
The venue's contribution to comedy should not be forgotten, either. When Kevin Bridges played there, for instance, an audience of close to 90,000 turned up. How heartening, then, to see the Billy Connolly of the Coalition, the Peter Kay of progressive politics, the Tim Vine of tuition fees policy, has chosen the Clydeside venue for his gig.
Yes, Nick Clegg will be leading his Liberal Democrats to Glasgow this weekend for the start of the party conference at the SECC. Though not billed as a comedy gig, one might wonder, given Mr Clegg's intention to use the event to relaunch his leadership, whether he at least is having a laugh.
After all, since entering government with the Tories, every year has been an annus horribilus for the Liberal Democrats. Punished by Scottish voters at the 2011 Holyrood election, and currently trailing Ukip in most UK opinion polls, the price paid by the party for seats around the Cabinet table has been steep. But the fightback starts here in Glasgow, apparently.
Untroubled by the scale of the task ahead, Mr Clegg was on upbeat form yesterday as he co-hosted his regular phone-in programme on LBC. According to the LibDem leader, a dawn is breaking over the UK economy. His reasons to be cheerful stemmed from some encouraging numbers, including a fall in unemployment and an increase in high street spending. Taking his cue from George "We're turning a corner" Osborne, Mr Clegg was in a mood to look on the bright side. While one should not be complacent, he said, the economy was moving in the right direction. Then came the punchline: "I don't think that would have happened if we hadn't been there."
It will take some spit and polish and further bashing around, but that argument - cheer up, it would have been worse without us - is essentially the platform on which the Liberal Democrats will fight the next UK election. Like some new brand of washing power, this is meant to wash the party clean of the stains left by the U-turn on tuition fees, the backing of the bedroom tax and the general disposition towards supporting their Conservative coalition partners come what may. Anyone struggling with the general stress of being worse off now than three years ago can be forgiven for taking cold to no comfort from such a position. But it is the best the leadership has, and from the conference in Glasgow to the 2015 General Election it will be repeated ad tedium in the hope that some voters will buy. If they do not, the drubbing coming the party's way will make what happened in Scotland in 2011 look like a gentle frown of disapproval.
Mr Clegg is nothing if not a survivor. A generous assessor might reckon that he did no more, and no less, than make the most of a bad hand. Mr Clegg argues his party did not have the numbers to form a stable government with Labour and other parties, even if some might have liked to see them at least try. He could argue that he kept to some promises once in government, such as holding a referendum on voting reform, and attempting to overhaul the Lords, even if he did meet with failure. As for the spending cuts and the general adherence to austerity measures despite the pain they caused to the poorest, well, Vince Cable pops up regularly to have a moan and allow us to feel his pain. Isn't that comfort enough? Isn't it obvious that things would have been worse without the merciful, restraining hand of the LibDems?
No, not even for one of his own MPs and former ministers, a one-time true believer. Sarah Teather entered the Commons in 2003 in a by-election victory. Defeating Labour in one of its safest seats, she was the youthful voice of Liberal Democrat reason, the kind of plain-speaking, principled sort who is in danger of giving politics a good name. After 10 years, however, she has had enough and will not be standing at the next election. Among the final straws were her party's backing of a get-tough immigration policy and the benefits cap. Feeling depressed at the direction of her party, she is heading for the exit.
Some might see a strong connection between Ms Teather's majority of 1345 and her career planning. Nothing like advertising your availability lest there is a rush later on, and all that. Yet there is something more going on here when someone like Ms Teather feels there is no place for her as a Liberal Democrat MP. When she speaks of her disillusionment at the cost of being in coalition, of being in mourning for the party of protest that she joined, she speaks for many, inside and outside the party. On a UK level, the Liberal Democrats were the archetypal third party, a repository of hope, and votes, when the public became scunnered by the big two. Now, in the space of one parliament, they have gone from bankable asset to sell-out.
If Mr Clegg can go even an inch of the way towards repairing that damage when he addresses his party next week he will have a triumph on his hands. The odds are not good, though. The party leadership is already formulating what it will do in the event of another hung Parliament in 2015. Glasgow will be the place to start flying kites on that front. As for who the party might work with next time, he said the choice had nothing to do with personal preferences, and everything to do with "the instruction manual" handed out by the voters.
Given what he did with the instruction manual last time - on tuition fees in particular - voters could be forgiven for trusting an arsonist with a box of matches before they backed the Liberal Democrats as honest brokers again. It has been three years since Coalition Government was founded, three years in which the Liberal Democrat leader has been tried and tried again and found wanting. Now, with the dawn breaking (according to Mr Clegg), he would like everyone to forget the past and start anew. His party, save for Ms Teather and others, might just about be willing to succumb to a bout of convenient amnesia (as their by-election teams show time and again, the Liberal Democrats are nothing if not flexible). Voters in general might like to refer Mr Clegg to a song played by The Who, a previous act to grace the SECC. Its title? Won't Get Fooled Again.
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