Catch up with ‘Call Clegg’: on Boris, immigration, Gaza, Europe and the Tories’ electoral srategy

If you missed the latest ‘Call Clegg’ you can catch up with it below. Here are some of the edited highlights…

On Boris:

Do you know I think the thing about Boris Johnson is you know despite all the kind of clumsiness and bumblingness he’s actually a really, really ambitious politician. And you know you don’t need to sort begrudging him that. He treats his political ambition a bit like he treats his hair. He wants everyone to think that he doesn’t really care but he actually really, really does care. And so look he’ll now have to, I think now he’ll come a bit, you know have to come clean a bit more about the fact that he is in many ways a much more conventional politician than he likes to appear. … At some point he’s actually going to have to say, I’m going to be responsible for stuff, I have to take difficult decisions. Boy have I got the t-shirt on this, I know this. You sometimes just have to take a choice between a lot of invidious difficult decisions all of which you know are not going to be wildly popular and you’re going to have to stick with them. And he’s going to have to do that at some point if he really does want to see through his political ambitions and then we will see.

On immigration:

I will really make two points to you. Firstly, there’s nothing new actually about some of the things I’ve recently said about immigration. If you can bear it Shirley have a look back at the leader’s debates that took place on television before the last general election and you will see David Cameron and I cross swords because I said that I thought it was wrong that the Conservative Party made an incredible promise, one that they couldn’t deliver and they indeed haven’t been able to deliver which is pursuing a net migration target. Because it doesn’t make much sense it means that a million can leave, a million people can come. You’ve got a net migration target of zero job done. In fact the job hasn’t been done at all. And instead I said to him let’s do the thing that actually the British people want which is to bear down on the abuse in the system, the loopholes in the system, the levels of illegal immigration, the number of people over staying their visas and visa entitlements in this country and I said at the time, so this is before the last General Election, not in response to recent opinion polls, that one of the ways of doing that, absolute key measure, is to reinstate proper border controls so we count people out, as well as we count people in. …

Then there’s a second issue, which is this issue, which you’re quite right, where I did make some important proposals today. Which is that when new member states, new countries, join the European Union in the future, what should our attitude be. Because you know that public confidence, and no doubt your confidence, Shirley, in the immigration system, was deeply, grievously damaged by Labour saying, when Poland and the other Eastern European countries came into the European Union, they said, oh no only a small number of people would come here, and actually, huge numbers of people came here. And ever since then, public confidence in all the reassurances that politicians of all parties make, has been very, very damaged. … I think there is a case that has been well made by people, which says, we should continue lengthening that transitional period for future excisions.

On Gaza:

… if you look over the last several years, we’ve had these cycles of violence, rocket attacks, ground incursions, massive loss of civilian life. And what have we discovered, is that violence begets violence, extremism begets extremism… and here’s the thing, from Israel’s point of view, as someone who is a staunch defender of Israel’s right, of course to exist, but much more importantly, to defend itself, and to secure the safety of its own citizens. I simply do not believe…the evidence shows this is the case, you know, you’ve got to learn from history, look at recent history…it’s the third major ground incursion into Gaza, it does not make the people of Israel safe. I just don’t think it is in Israel’s interest to have this strategy of sporadic military intervention, and not sustained negotiation to create…at the end of the day, the braver, bigger, bolder thing to do would be to do what has happened in Bosnia, and Northern Ireland, and other bloody conflicts, is people who loathe each other, you know, detest each other, nonetheless pluck up the courage to talk to each other in order to secure peace.

On Europe:

… the curious thing after four and a half years of being Deputy Prime Minister, I’ve become more anti establishment, and more radical, and more restless for reform in Westminster and Whitehall, than I was when I started out. You know, four and a half years later, still no change to our clapped out electoral system, still no change to the actually undemocratic nature of the House of Lords, still no change to party funding reform, still far too much sort of, you know, secrecy and bureaucracy in Whitehall. And do you know what, it’s the same in the European Union, we shouldn’t be spending £150 million a year sending MEPs, migrating, in this great herd of politicians, between Brussels and Strasbourg. Of course we need less red tape where red tape is not necessary. But, and here’s the big but…you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Because I want to reform Westminster, I’m not gonna raise it the ground. Because I want to reform the European Union, I don’t think the answer is simply to kind of flounce out of the European Union. Because I think you lose more than you gain. And what we gain by being part of this, world’s largest, biggest marketplace, is huge. Millions of people’s jobs in our country, in our communities, are linked to our presence within this huge, the world’s largest kind of marketplace. And so reform, yes, and you reform by leading. You don’t reform, I think, by blaming everything, indiscriminately, on the European Union, or even…which is the sort of Boris Johnson approach…by saying if you don’t get exactly what you want, you’re going to head for the exit sign immediately.

On the Tories’ electoral strategy:

Look, I’m not a Conservative, I’m the leader of the Liberal Democrats, you’re gonna have to talk to them about their own sort of internal woes. I do think, I’ve always felt this, that the Conservative Party’s own fortunes depend on its ability to govern for the whole country, not one part of the country, and for all communities, not just some communities. And I just think, if you look at the electoral map…I mean, I know that my party has got it’s challenges. But the Conservative Party, people are nonexistent in vast swathes of Scotland, Wales, Northern England. And in many communities they do, it seems to me, they do need to kind of really work hard to reach out to other communities.

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  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Aug '14 - 5:48pm

    Perhaps I wasn’t listening properly but in the leadership debates, the point that I vividly remember was the. Amnesty for illegal immigrants who had lived in the country for over a certain length of time. I

    I remember this point because I disagreed with it. It seemed a rational position to take because there were practical reasons why we couldn’t find the illegal immigrants anyway, but I felt that one should never reinforce behaviour that has its roots in illegality. I also thought that it would give hope to newer illegal immigrants that if they could evade the system for long enough, they too would get an amnesty.

  • For want of a better thread – and as ALDC seems to have given up covering local by-election results – perhaps it’s worth noting what happened in Castle Ward, Worthing, where a Lib Dem seat was being defended.

    UKIP 568 (37% +21%)
    Conservative 485 (32% +3%)
    Liberal Democrat 242 (16% -24%)
    Labour 197 (13% -2%)
    Green 49 (3%)

    That is a 22.5% swing from the Lib Dems to UKIP since 2012.

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