Nick Clegg's report card

As the Liberal Democrat's party conference gets underway in Brighton, MSN News looks at how Nick Clegg has performed.

House of Lords Reform: F

This is clearly a subject Nick is very passionate about and he always has lots to contribute to debates. However, he has little to show for his enthusiasm.

If we were grading for effort, Nick would get an A, but his end of term achievements sadly don't reflect this.

The facts

House of Lords reform was a fundamental part of the coalition agreement made in 2010, but the plans have now been abandoned.

In July dozens of Tory backbench MPs defied the coalition agreement when they refused to back the government timetable motion on the proposal to introduce a largely elected Upper Chamber.

This meant only Labour could save the reforms by supporting Clegg's plans - a feat which would take months of debate, and according to Clegg, tie up Parliament while more pressing issues such as job creation and growth needed to be addressed.

Gay Marriage: B+

Nick set his sights high in this subject and has shown promise in meeting his objectives. He has worked well together with some of his classmates to produce a well-argued piece of project work. He can have high hopes of continuing his success next term, despite the difficulties of this subject.

The facts

Plans to allow gay marriage in the UK before 2015 are still in place.

The remaining area of contention rests upon whether these will take place in churches, and which institutions will and will not perform the ceremonies.

Nick Clegg defied the official government policy which says churches will not have to allow gay couples to marry in their premises, winning cheers from supporters of the cause, but raising tensions within the coalition.

Economy: E

Before joining the coalition, Nick was doing well in this subject. However he has not performed as well in tests as he did in the class discussion. Sometimes he needs to think things through a little more analytically and use real life examples in his answers. Better preparation is also important.

There are concerns that he has been copying homework from some of his classmates and he would do well to show more independence of ideas.

Some of the tests this year have been particularly challenging but unfortunately no allowance is made for this in the marking.

The facts

Nick Clegg won a small victory when the income tax allowance was raised in the 2012 budget.

The same budget however dealt a serious blow when George Osborne scrapped the 50p tax rate as a tax reduction for the wealthy.

Far reaching cuts and austerity measures have been implemented by the coalition government but the UK economy has not responded well. The economy has contracted for the past three quarters and seems no closer to recovery.

GCSE reforms: C

This is a subject over which Nick showed some serious anxiety. Back in June he was really struggling and seemed to have been left behind by some of his classmates. However he has made considerable progress and while he still finds it difficult to understand some of the issues he has managed to increase his scores.

The facts

While GCSEs will be scrapped and replaced with a more traditional qualification called the English Baccalaureate Certificate, Nick, and many others were relieved to have averted a return to the days of O-levels and CSEs.
Nick Clegg and education secretary Michael Gove now both appear to be happy with the outcome which aims to raise education standards, while allowing children of all abilities to reach their full potential.

Student Fees: F

Probably Nick's prickliest subject, he has had significant problems reaching the grade he would have liked on student fees.

He has not been helped by a very disruptive class and has sometimes struggled to make himself heard. He has also made himself rather unpopular by disagreeing with everyone.

His ideas are often confused and he has been unable to express himself clearly. He has promised to make a fresh start next term and if he can be a little more constructive he may be able to improve his grade slightly.

The facts

The Liberal Democrats have long been against tuition fees, and made a very clear pre-election pledge to scrap them. On entering the coalition government however, their plans failed miserably.

Forced to make an embarrassing U-turn on the policy, Nick Clegg's reputation has suffered for this mishap and has lost the Liberal Democrat party many grass-root supporters.

Not only has Nick failed to fulfil his pledge in this subject, he in fact stood by and watched his coalition partners raise the fees considerably, with students now paying up to £9000 a year.

Ahead of this weekend's conference, Nick Clegg released a video apology over the issue suggesting that the tuition fee pledge should not have been made. This was soon remixed into a hit rap song which gained much more exposure than the original clip.

NHS Reform: C

When it came to NHS reform Nick was caught trying to please two separate groups of friends. His old class, the Liberal Democrats were upset by initial reform plans, but Nick was reluctant to upset his new partners in the Conservative class.

In the end, Nick showed strength in standing up to the Tory students and retaining his old beliefs. This contribution from Nick showed good leadership skills and is something we hope to see more of in the future.

The facts

Sweeping reform plans for the NHS have been passed, and changes are already underway.

The new NHS will officially be born on 1 April 2013, when strategic health authorities and primary care trusts will be abolished. They'll be replaced by institutions run largely by groups of GPs, overseen by a national board.

The reforms did not pass smoothly through Parliament, after Nick Clegg threatened to block initial plans unless changes were made. In doing so Clegg quashed a revolt from within his own party and achieved a re-drafted version which the Liberal Democrats could support.

Nuclear Power: D

This used to be one of Nick's favourite subjects, but over the last term he has struggled to produce his best work.
Others in the class have bullied Nick, and his grades have resultantly slipped. While he started out strong on nuclear power, he succumbed to peer pressure and has not managed to reach his true potential.

The facts

The Liberal Democrats started out with an impressive pre-election pledge to stop the building of any new atomic power facilities.

However, in face of Conservative pressure, the Liberal Democrats made another embarrassing U-turn, when they announced they would not stand in the way of new nuclear developments.

The party's nuclear stance was not helped by the loss of Chris Huhne as energy secretary, who earlier this year stepped down over charges of perverting the course of justice.

General Comments:

Overall, Nick has clearly been putting a lot of effort into his work but seems to have been led astray in many of his best subjects.

While he has enjoyed a greater seat of power, his grades have slipped, and with them so has his reputation.

The worry now is that a higher achieving classmate such as Vince Cable may replace him as head boy of the Liberal Democrats.