Why Nick Clegg and Barack Obama are so alike

28 Aug 2014


Looking back at UK and USA politics in the last year, the similarities between policies and principles are evidently apparent. However, in particular, there have been two very interchangeable politicians that have almost mirrored one another.

Nick Clegg and Barack Obama do not seem like the most compatible pair, but when it comes to actions over words they are attuned to one another. Such a suggestion does seem strange at first, but I’ll explain. Simply put, they were both ambitious in their promises, yet incapable of achieving their high-minded aspirations.


The first example comes in the shape of equality. Clegg promised back in 2010 to better living standards for all - not only did he fail at delivering this promise but he went back on his word. The result? Wages in the UK are down £1,500 on average with 1 million young people out of work. Likewise, Obama promised in 2008 to close the wage gap for ethnic minorities and white women. It was a tremendous task that he didn’t succeed in; unfortunately the nature of capitalism has no room for increasing wages. For a decade the women wage gap hasn’t budged and white women are still only paid 77% of what white men earn. If you are a woman of colour, it is worse – your pay is likely to amount to between 84% and 53% of what white men earn in the same position (it is only slightly higher for men of colour).

A second example of promises long forgotten is when both politicians failed to deliver on political reform. Obama was unsuccessful in reducing the number of bills rushed through Congress, even though he promised to implement ‘five days of public comment before signing’ policy for non-emergency bills. Similarly, Clegg abandoned his House of Lords reform programme after Conservative MPs refused to back it, and further failed to deliver reform to the voting system (something he will come to regret come 2015).

Overall, both politicians have been fundamentally hindered by their lack of political control. In the case of Clegg, the Lib Dems have seemingly been obliged to conform to Conservative policies in order to stay in power as a minority coalition partner. Whereas Obama has been battling habitually with the Republican Party (which currently has control of the House of Representatives) over policies, acts and especially Medicare - aka Obamacare.

Unfortunately, this means that the public has lost considerable faith in both these party leaders, as they have failed to hold their own ground and deliver on their election promises. The cause of this? A combination of over-ambitious promises, and political circumstances. In terms of guarantees made, and promises broken, Nick Clegg and Barack Obama are more similar than one might think.

By Nicola White


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