Nick Clegg’s reinvention of the past is descending into bollocks.

The Coalition and the EU represent the highlights of Nick Clegg’s career. Are any of them going anywhere?

Nick Clegg’s specious comments on the Marr Show this morning were revealing in a number of ways. Taken together, however, they suggest a politician desperately concerned with self-preservation.

Most of the answers he gave to Andrew Marr (who quite obviously doesn’t like him) had what I’ve come to see as the hallmark of Cleggery: seemingly harmless remarks which – when examined – are revealed to be ethically toxic. One such involved a reply to Marr’s jibe at just how nasty Nick had been about Dave during the election.

“Ah,” said Clegg with a knowing smile, “Well -hah – we all say things like that in elections.”

So: politician say things about their rivals in elections designed to destroy your faith in them. But they’re only silly lies really. Hahaha. The imputation presumably being “Don’t listen to anything politicians say in elections, because it’s all bollocks”. Just so long as we know where we stand.

Equally, the Deputy Prime Minister’s standard answer to any obvious question concerning Government policy contradictions – “Look, Coalitions are new to the voters – they’re going to take time to get used to them” – is wearing paper thin. Even when it was fat, the argument didn’t have much going for it: such off-the-cuff responses are difficult to justify when the bottom line is ‘Coalitions involve compromise that can make a mockery of policy’….especially if getting that policy wrong could bankrupt the country. I sincerely hope that people never get used to that, otherwise we might just as well rename the country Italy.

But the one ‘observation’ Nick Clegg threw out that made my skin creep was his apparently blase attempt to position the EU’s problems firmly in the past. Once again he was defending an indefensible decision on his part to change position on deficit cuts – in order to get the Number Two seat in the Cabinet. He used what he called “The general feeling at that time” that “You know, the um, the um, financial state of our nearest trading partner showed great systemic instability…”

Showed? Ah, so the EU’s problems are all in the past, then? Clegg compounded the almost unconscious crime by next playing the tired old trick of it being more the fault of Wicked Markets:

“I mean,” he complained, “Bond dealers were walking around from one country to another with a begging bowl, looking for the slightest evidence of a problem”.

If many more politicians start saying such things, The Slog will become redundant: Clegg’s statement above is so full of bollocks as to deconstruct itself as he talks.

Bond dealers trying to destroy their own sector? Begging bowls? Slight evidence? The first two are economic gibberish, the third ridiculous: what did Greece have to do to provide evidence of disaster, slide back into the Aegean?

But in thinking about this, what we mustn’t do is forget Slick Nick’s background. He was for many years a Eurocrat, engaged in negotiating trade deals for the Union. The success of his efforts can be judged by the EU’s rise to abject trading failure since that time, but what has clearly travelled with Clegg is that ever-present Big State suspicion of markets: ‘Ooooh: markets – risk – reality….quick, hurry back inside. Let’s book a restaurant and discuss pay differentials’.

As I have noted before, the likes of Clegg, Mandelson, Kinnock and Brittan are never going to criticise the European Union: if they do so, they forfeit their pension rights. How about that for a golden gag? But that’s not the point at issue here. What I’m driving at is Mr Clegg’s cv: he is that worst of all animals, a civil servant who fancied the limelight of politics.

Such a track-record makes for a very skilled performance in any public situation under norml circumstances, because the first requirement of every bureaucrat is an excuse. As, by definition, no excuse can be a good reason, his excuses are tailor-made for zero attention-span 24/7 news. But we are fast approaching a situation where normal service is unlikely to be resumed soon – if ever. Thus are his answers degenerating into the dread disease bolloxya.

The LibDem leader – and he is only that in name any more – no longer has that air of confident belief in change about him. As I suggested at the start, his answers these days are vain attempts to justify having done something reprehensible a few months back – and not a lot since.

The Irish business journalist Donal O’Mahoney wrote an impassioned piece in the Irish Times yesterday, observing that, when it comes the market rates for Irish sovereign loans, ‘It is readily apparent that market perceptions surrounding Irish solvency and liquidity risk are now substantially divorced from the reality on the ground’.

I have sympathy for Mr O’Mahoney, because compared to most EU basket-cases the Irish have been paragons of virtue in their attempts to dig themselves out of the train-wreck. But after a while, there will always be an element of ‘he would say that, wouldn’t he?’. Based on my soundings, Donal is wrong to say that the market view is divorced from reality – as Nick Clegg is wrong to suggest that this Humpty-Dumpty Union has been put back together again.

In Clegg’s case specifically, he must by now realise that he has nowhere to go other than into some form of merger with the Tories. But the vast majority of LibDem workers and officials would not go with him – and if I’m being frank here, the vast majority of Conservatives wouldn’t want him. Further, his beloved EU is falling apart. He is heading for a Ramsay MacDonald sort of oblivion, and it shows in the answers he gives during interviews.