Call Clegg highlights 6 June – “I was lucky, but it’s not about luck, is it?”

call clegg

So, if you haven’t got time to sit through the half hour of Call Clegg, here are my highlights of today’s session.

On his Opening Doors initiative

But to be honest I think what this is about is what about those kids who aren’t lucky enough to have, I don’t know, families or parents who can help or can try and help them, who just don’t have the contacts, who don’t have the support they need to live out their dreams….

…I actually do think there are so many young children today who are bright, who’ve got big dreams,  great big aspirations, who just feel that,  that they don’t have the opportunity to live out those dreams. You know I’ve heard youngsters say to me, I’d like to be something, I don’t know, I’d like to be lawyer or I’d like to go into publishing or I’d like to be an accountant.  But you know, that doesn’t happen to someone like me.  And I think this is a real tragedy…

…My Dad helped me. I was very lucky. But the whole point is I don’t think it should be about luck should it?

On how to best represent the ethnicity of London in the Metropolitan Police

Look, I wouldn’t close my mind against something like that (positive discrimination) because I totally accept just as, by the way, political parties should be as representative as possible of the community that we are representing, and, by the way that’s not the case and not least in my own Party we’ve still got some way to go,  it’s a good thing if the communities of London recognise themselves in the police.  Whether you can apply sort of mathematical formulas,  I suspect you shouldn’t be too over precise because then you end up of course excluding people who would be very, very good police officers, just because they don’t meet that statistical hurdle.

On A & E waiting times and teething troubles at 111

Thankfully actually the last five weeks have shown that we’re back on track, and that the wonderful people in the NHS who treat people who come into A&E departments are meeting those targets again.  There was slippage over the winter, I know a lot of work has been done to address that.

Yes it (111)  is starting to be sorted out, it is being straightened out, but you are quite right there were some real teething problems to begin with.  With hindsight we’d have been better to cross all the t’s and dot all the I’s before launching something like that clearly.

On childcare ratios

 What I said by the way very, very explicitly within government was we can only decide on this when we’ve heard the responses of people who frankly know better than any politician about what it’s like to look after four, five, six two year old toddlers in nursery.  Anyway, that then went several months and basically the response, not just by the way from nurseries and professionals in the sector, but overwhelmingly from parent groups, was that they thought this was a bad idea for a number of reasons, but the one that I focused on, was the claim initially made that it would somehow reduce the weekly childcare bill for the families. I,  like everybody want to do whatever I can to bring childcare costs down.

But what about stories that the Coalition had decided to increase the ratio prior to the Consultation?

I’m sorry that’s flatly wrong, what we agreed at the time was that we would consult on these proposals and not make our minds up finally until we had heard from people.  Let me just ask a very straightforward question, what on earth is the point of consulting people if you’re not prepared to listen to them.

On benefits for rich pensioners

I have a simple principle  which I’m not going to resile from, and by the way I’ve just seen this week that Ed Balls, now finally agrees with me.  Having spent three years vilifying me and Liberal Democrats for the welfare changes we’ve introduced they’ve now suddenly flip flopped and now said, actually after all we do agree.  But, anyway the point is my principle is when you make those savings you start at the top and then you work down, you don’t start at the bottom and work up.  And, that’s why I think it is right to say that millionaire pensioners for instance, who frankly don’t need winter fuel payments, and free TV licences, because they can afford them perfectly well themselves, I don’t see why hard working lower income tax payers should pay through their taxes to give pensioners living in very big houses, and have got huge amounts in their bank accounts, that extra free bung.

 On Syria – when might we intervene?

The idea that we can press a button in Whitehall, or in Washington and create total peace and harmony in a country which has been torn apart by the most horrid, bloody civil conflict is absurd.  So, we have to grapple with these difficult realities, now some people might say, let’s wash our hands of this let’s not do anything, this is all too awful.  Well, I just think you can’t turn your back on something like that because it has a knock on effect on the region, it has a knock on effect on everybody else.  So, the question is what can you do if anything?  We haven’t taken any decision about providing arms to the moderate forces.

Clearly, this is not a decision in any event that the United Kingdom should ever take on our own, this is something which has to be also governed by what other big powers around the world think, notably the United States.

On Stephen Fry

I think he’s brave, I think he’s leading, I think he will make it even more acceptable, and it needs to become even more acceptable for us to talk about mental health in exactly the same what that we do without any of the embarrassments and complexity in exactly the same way as we do about physical health problems.

If you have got time to watch the whole half hour, you can do so here – and it is actually a good programme. If I were dropped down to earth and  had no idea who either of these people were, I’d find it interesting, engaging and funny and I’d feel that the two people worked well together.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Nick really over uses the straw man technique or maybe its just his phrasing. I’ve never heard anyone vocalise the idea that there is a big button that can be pressed that will bring peace to a wartorn country. Maybe Nick had to dream up that idea himself just so that he could explain what a dumb idea it is. It makes rather painful listening though. Nick is intelligent enough just to talk straight if he wants to, he doesn’t have to put us through his.

  • Stuart Mitchell 7th Jun '13 - 5:23pm

    ” Let me just ask a very straightforward question, what on earth is the point of consulting people if you’re not prepared to listen to them.”

    Er, does he mean like the gay marriage consultation, when Lynne Featherstone announced the outcome before it had even started?

  • Stuart Mitchell 7th Jun '13 - 5:32pm

    Caron: “But what about stories that the Coalition had decided to increase the ratio prior to the Consultation?”

    Nick: “I’m sorry that’s flatly wrong.”

    Actually it’s half right. The government consultation document offered to consult on the ratios relating to childminders, but as far as nurseries were concerned, this was presented as a done deal, and the consultation simply sought views on “how best to link higher ratios to higher quality”.

  • David Wilkinson 8th Jun '13 - 8:55am

    Brillant by Cleggie to claim the 111 shambles is getting better, it just a pity about the people who died during this disgrace.
    But don’t worry the Lib Dems are brillant in government says Nick, yes pull the other one.

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