>Getting Virtually Naked with… Rt. Hon. Nick Clegg MP

>Unless you have been transported to another planet over the last few weeks you will know the Nick Clegg is the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, and the Deputy Prime Minister of the current coalition government. On the eve of the start of Liberal Democrat conference, he agreed to sit down with a collection of Liberal Democrat bloggers and have a chat on a wide range of issues. The answers tie in a lot with the themes that were to emerge at the conference itself.


The discussion started topically when Lib Dem Voice Blog of the Year winner Millennium Elephant asked Clegg about the Popes visit. The Deputy PMs approach to religion is probably most fairly represented as agnostic, in his reply he noted that he didn’t know whether or not there was a God, but that he personally had great admiration for those people who did have faith. It was pleasing to see that Clegg expressed a level of dissapointment at the type of the coverage the Papal visit had got. He quite rightly pointed out that while a liberal, tolerant society could rightly ask questions and dislike elements of the Catholic Church, those that followed and led the faith should be treated with respect.


When moving on to political reform, Clegg strongly defended the Governments position on the reduction of MPs. He points out that the Conservatives wanted to reduce the number of MPs further than the Lib Dems would accept, and a compromise of 600 was made.  He also said that the decision to accept a referendum on AV, not full proportional representation was a decision on which ‘idealism and pragmatism came up against each other’. ‘No other party is prepared to go further than AV’ he rightly pointed out. Clegg also reiterated that the upcoming legislation, as it was in the coalition agreement, will be whipped and will ultimately be passed.


Of course the economy had to come up, and Clegg put forward a solid and oft repeated case when asked by VN what difference Lib Dems in the Treasury and Cabinet had made. He cited the examples of the raise in capital gains tax and the income tax threshold, as well as the introduction of a triple lock system. Furthermore, he said the emphasis on alleviating child poverty would not have been there, before looking to the future and to a greener economy. He did though  express frustration that people were forgetting that many apparently Conservative economic policies that have since been introduce in government, were in fact supported by the Liberal Democrats too when in opposition.



Overall Clegg seemed fairly buoyant, despited clear frustration with the current media narrative of him as a sell out. What came across the most, and was later reflected at conference, was how naturally he grasps coalition politics. From declaring that every decision wasn’t a battle, to his belief that the openness with which he and Cameron embrace their differences mean that they can find a solution more easily, he gets it instinctively. In fact, there was a genuine sense of frustration at people (read media,) who don’t get it. Clegg may still eventually pay for people being behind the narrative, but  ultimately will be their loss not his. 


Oh, and if you are wondering about the art in the background of the pictures…it’s  Peter Mandelsons’….

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