The Tory tabloids have gone to town. This Daily Mail quote from Clegg in 2002 is the most potentially damaging:

"Watching Germany rise from its knees after the war and become a vastly more prosperous nation has not been easy on the febrile British psyche. All nations have a cross to bear, and none more so than Germany with its memories of Nazism. But the British cross is more insidious still. A misplaced sense of superiority, sustained by delusions of grandeur and a tenacious obsession with the last war, is much harder to shake off. We need to be put back in our place."

I have to say there's a lot here that I agree with.

The greatness of Churchill and the triumph in the Second World War did present Britain with a crippling post-war legacy. How do you move forward when you have already been told that, if the British empire were to last a thousand years, 1940 was its finest hour? American pols always point forward, but post-war British pols and people looked backwards.

That shifted in the 1990s at long last. And yes, it was an insidious burden. And yes, it did prevent a more ruthless assessment of economic reality. In this, I think, Clegg is saying something important and true. But we'll see if in the debate this afternoon, it comes back to haunt him.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.