Nick Clegg on The Andrew Marr Show

>This morning Nick Clegg was interviewed by Andrew Marr on his weekly magazine show. Looking slightly more refreshed since the Christmas break, the Deputy Prime Minister gave a very strong defence of the governments changes to higher education funding. He admitted there had been a problem in communicating the policy, a situation he said that was partly caused by the “counter intuitive” principle that Universities could charge more, but students pay back less each month. He also seems to have had a strong influence in the debate on the replacement on control orders, the outcome of which is likely to be revealed in the next few days.

Clegg didn’t waste anytime laying into new Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls. He rightly pointed out that Alan Johnson’s replacement was key in advocating light touch banking regulation as City Minister, and was a key advisor to Gordon Brown as the previous Labour government overspent. The Coalition are clearly going to shine the spotlight on Balls, and his involvement in creating the structural deficit that they are trying to pay back, over the coming weeks and months, and why not?

Perhaps Clegg’s most telling dig was at his Business Secretary, Vince Cable. When asked about the nature of disagreements in government, Clegg said that clearly two parties in government approach a policy with differences, but that he preferes them ‘to be aired in private’. A subtle but real warning for the next Lib Dem Minister to air their dirty laundry in public, and perhaps an even more subtle one for Cable that he might not be unsacakable forever.

No doubt Clegg will receive criticism from some for holding his fire on Andy Coulson. Difficult as many of us find it to believe, Clegg was actually right when he pointed out that Coulson has never actually been found guilty of anything over phone hacking. As Deputy Prime Minister, working directly with the Prime Ministers office in which Coulson was based, it would have been wholly inappropriate of him to say anything else.

The irritation that had crept into Clegg’s demeanour in the run up to the Christmas break seems to have dissipated somewhat. Clearly it has been a very difficult few months personally for Nick Clegg, ironic given the pride he should have felt at being the first Leader of the Liberal Democrat’s to lead the party to government, but now at least he was back reeling off the achievements from the manifesto, and manning the party trenches. It was also reassuring to see a Lib Dem giving a responsible approach to the necessary reforms of the banking system, instead of indulging in cheap bank-bashing rhetoric, and rounding off a good overall performance from the  the Lib Dem Leader and Deputy Prime Minister.


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