Nick Clegg’s blogger interviews

This morning a group of 10 bloggers interviewed Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. The questions ranged over a wide area and here are a few selected highlights:

MPs’ expenses: Nick eloquently made the link between safe seats and good behaviour by MPs: “if you want to keep MPs honest, don’t give them safe seats for life … safe seats corrupt public life”. He said his one real regret over how he had handled the issue was not making the point more forcefully that whilst the party was not free of “blemishes”, no Liberal Democrat MP had been involved in the serious abuses of flipping and Capital Gains Tax dodging – and the reason for that is that no Lib Dem MP feels they have a safe seat for life. There is an “intimate connection” between the electoral system and how MPs behave.

Nick Clegg bloggers interview, Bournemouth Conference On the Conservatives: Nick talked about a significant change of gear for the party’s national message. Having established the party as being very firmly on the side of change, the challenge is now to establish what kind of change and how it differs from the Conservatives.

He feels that Labour’s demoralised slump has given the Tories an easy ride, especially as “We’ve got lots of people sucking up to the Tories and being far too soft on them.” The Liberal Democrats would now be concentrating much more criticism on the “phony change” from the Conservatives, highlighting issues such as Conservative support for tax cuts for the very rich, allying themselves with climate change deniers in the European Parliament and opposing meaningful reforms to party funding.

On Polly Toynbee: “I like Polly personally [but] I think she has a very, very rigid definition of progressive … I don’t find her a very pluralist thinker. She has one remedy … She is not open enough to there being other means [to progressive ends].”

On tax and public spending: Nick said the country has its worst structural deficit since 1945 and this, combined with an open economy and free international financial markets, means urgent and significant action has to be taken. The search for saving and cuts has to be very stringent, because he doesn’t just want to get the deficit under control – he also wants to ensure public spending continues in vital areas such as green investment, school education and public transport investment. In other words – cutting not for ideological reasons, but to balance the books and spend in priority areas.

He said that “pretty well the full extent” of possible savings was now out in the open for debate in the party, but that we should still expect new proposals during the week on the tax side of the equation.

On scrapping tuition fees, Nick said “it is our policy … it is something personally I want to do” but the party would not be able to afford to introduce all its policies immediately after a general election. So whilst he was sure the party’s package for students would be the best of any of the main parties, he didn’t commit to scrapping tuition fees in full being an immediate commitment.

Internet piracy: this was the main question I asked and Nick gave an answer that was closely and firmly rooted in his political philosophy, so rather than typing it up, watch out for a YouTube clip later today. UPDATE: The clip is here.

Write-ups from other bloggers

(I’ll add links to accounts from the other bloggers as I spot them. Do post up a comment if you’ve spotted any that I haven’t yet added.)

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in Blogger Interviews.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/16201 for Twitter and emails.

5 Comments

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?




Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSimon 31st Aug - 12:59am
    Community politics is NOT community activism. Please read the original pamphlet online.
  • User AvatarLiberal Al 31st Aug - 12:41am
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-politics/10214326/One-to-watch-Why-political-campaigner-Daisy-Cooper-is-going-places.html An interesting article on this very articulate candidate. This really is a tough presidency campaign, but I like the focus of this positive article...
  • User AvatarATF 31st Aug - 12:37am
    @Geoffrey Payne I hope that it is isn't. Far better they spend their time out there talking to people rather than, as so often seems...
  • User AvatarLiberal Al 31st Aug - 12:30am
    These ones are NOT so different. (sorry.)
  • User AvatarLiberal Al 31st Aug - 12:28am
    Another great article by Maajid. We need to help the Middle East to start giving its people a positive message of Liberalism, something they can...
  • User AvatarDaniel Henry 31st Aug - 12:23am
    Pickety is difficult reading. I've been working through it for months and still haven't passed the half way mark. Very interesting though...