Tuesday 23 October 2018 7:56 am

DEBATE: With Nick Clegg joining Facebook, can we expect a new revolving door between politics and Silicon Valley?

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With Nick Clegg joining Facebook, can we expect a new revolving door between politics and Silicon Valley?

YES, says Leon Emirali, an entrepreneur and investor.

Stifling regulation, immense political upheaval, and very deep pockets have created the perfect environment for a politics/tech merry-go-round.

For the Silicon Valley giants, it makes perfect sense to use their sizeable lobbying budgets to lure experienced political operatives who can help them navigate the intense scrutiny they have been facing from legislators and regulators worldwide.

Politicians and their advisers, meanwhile, will relish the opportunity to get their teeth stuck into some of the biggest policy discussions of the time and help shape the future. Oh, and the weather is pretty nice in California.

In a political climate of polarisation and disruption, there is an argument that more influence is wielded in Silicon Valley than would ever be possible in Westminster or Washington.

While it too early to tell whether former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s move to Facebook will signal the start of a political brain drain, the temptation of prestige, power, and big pay packets could prove tempting for many.

Read more: Who the heck is Nick Clegg? Seven facts about Facebook’s new spin chief

NO, says Olivia Utley, deputy editor at TheArticle.

Until recently, Silicon Valley and Westminster have rubbed along together comfortably. Big Tech companies felt understood by politicians – and vice versa. Good relations blossomed, and for many politicians and their advisers, tech seemed like a natural next step after parliament. Steve Hilton and Rachel Whetstone made the leap comfortably – and now Nick Clegg is doing the same.

But he will be the last. The mood in both Westminster and Silicon Valley has changed dramatically, and the revolving door is closing. The Westminster centrists’ belief that their liberal, global worldview was shared by the country was irrevocably undermined by the EU Referendum. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg and his friends are learning that their vision for a worldwide digital community gratefully united by Big Tech was – to put it mildly – a little naive.


The Westminster politicians who slipped with such ease into Silicon Valley are a dying breed. And the tech giants who welcomed them with open arms are on their knees.

Read more: What the Clegg? Facebook taps former Lib Dem leader as global affairs head

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