You will recall the time, just recently passed, when even the mildest, most inoffensively and neutrally phrased criticism of immigration on the web would earn the hostility of a spitefully hissed 'racist!' . It was impossible at one time to engage in sensible debate on the subject. An accusation of racism, so easy and casually made against so many, was the scoundrel's means of avoiding arguing the facts. It was only when Labour party HQ realised that 80% of their own party members would have to be labelled as 'racists' that the first senior figures in the party started to admit in public that they'd got it wrong on immigration. And as I've said before, Gordon Brown put the lid on it when he spat the word 'bigot' at Gillian Duffy. He would have preferred the conventional 'racist' I'm certain, but she'd carefully phrased her question to be about East European immigrants.
And so to young Clegg, a politician so emotionally immature that he claimed in an interview with GQ magazine to have had intercourse with up to thirty different women and described his sexual prowess with the false modesty of the cad: "I don't think I am particularly brilliant or particularly bad," he said. The interview was important; it revealed Clegg as a moral relativist, a man who regarded sexual intercourse as an aerobic activity without deeper meaning or impact, to be engaged in casually and at will and even with relative strangers. The emotional immaturity of the young on moral issues is hardly unusual; many of us will have passed through such a stage in our youth, but to seek to play a part in national politics and still to cling to these puerile and jejune misjudgements is to expose oneself to the sort of public contempt and ridicule of which Clegg is now justly in receipt.
Clegg's use of the 'bigot' word is demonstrative of an unsophisticated credulity typical of some callow lad still fascinated with his own membrum virile. He can martial no more sophisticated argument against those who seek to preserve a moral framework in our society. Like the hissing juveniles with their 'racist!' spits, it is a response of desperation, not of mature political dialogue.