Nick Clegg at PMQs: what the papers say

Nick Clegg’s performance at Prime Minister’s Questions has been widely commented upon in today’s press. If you want to see a blow by blow account of the event, then I have collected tweets here and the official Hansard report is here. For me, the absolute highlight of an excellent performance from Nick was how he dealt with a question by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who asked a question about giving people who had been in care access to their files. Nick’s reply was sensitive and genuine as he promised help for those who had been abused.

I certainly think my hon. Friend is right in saying that, given the daily drip, drip effect of these horrific revelations—which seem to get worse every day—about things that seem to have taken place on a scale that was before now unimaginable, we should send out a clear message from all parts of this House to any victim who is sitting at home alone, still harbouring terrible memories of the terrible suffering they endured, that this is the time for them to speak out. This is the time for them to come forward. We will help them; we will reach out to them. We will make sure that their suffering is atoned for and that where we can find those who perpetrated these terrible abuses, they are brought to justice, even several years since those events might first have occurred.

But back to today’s papers.

I hesitate to quote from a Quentin Letts article that has enough misogynist drivel to keep Everyday Sexism going for a week, but he was almost nice about  Nick:

All this time, the Cleggster was tonking Labour questions for six.  Seldom have I seen the deputy PM look so pleased. He spoke without notes, too: quite brave to do that at PMQs.

There was even a backhanded compliment from Ephraim Hardcastle in the same paper, speculating that Nick Clegg’s performance was down to an unsubstantiated claim that he’d started smoking again.

Matthew Parris in The Times (£) says:

Golly! Just been watching PM’s Questions, fielded this week by Mr Cameron’s deputy. No — hear me out: I know PMQs doesn’t matter and I realise you may not be a fan of Nick Clegg. But the Deputy Prime Minister was really, really good yesterday. Deft, brisk and quick-fire, he packed quite a punch.

An interesting take from the Guardian’s live blog, suggesting that Harriet Harman had led Nick further than he has previously said on implementing the Leveson recommendations.

Harman is either enticing Clegg to vote with Labour (which is committed to implementing Leveson), or forcing him to make promises that the coalition will be unable to keep. It’s like making an investment; there’s no return today, but her tactics may reap benefits in the future.

For the record, it’s worth remembering that if it hadn’t been for the insistence of Nick Clegg, we wouldn’t have had a judge led enquiry at all.

James Forsyth in the Spectator seemed surprised that Nick mentioned the Liberal Democrat inspired raising of the tax threshold.

One thing that was striking was how often Clegg referred to the Lib Dem-inspired coalition move to raise the income tax thresholds. The Liberal Democrat leadership is convinced that this policy is beginning to pay dividends for the party and that they’ll receive the credit for the big increase in April.

“Everyone loves Clegg” was the verdict of Alex Stevenson at

I think people would like to see Nick do PMQs more often. I certainly would be happy if it was his actual job.


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

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  • Bill le Breton 8th Nov '12 - 11:13am

    Very Twentieth Century, as my children, now electors, would say. Not learning much from Obama.

  • Nick was superb yesterday. It’s good that the papers noticed, amid the US results analysis.

  • Although I have many reservations about some of the individual coalition policies, it’s still really fantastic to see a LibDem giving as good as he gets at the disptach-box 🙂

  • Joseph Donnelly 8th Nov '12 - 5:16pm

    @Bill Le Breton

    You are becoming a bit of a propagandist against Clegg on this site. It was quite hard to write a negative comment on this blog, I can understand not commenting at all but purposefully finding something negative to say and posting it requires effort in this case.

  • Bill le Breton 8th Nov '12 - 5:58pm

    I do feel a grouch Joseph, but when I heard the broadcast early this morning I thought it was all so much the ‘boys club’, very aggressive and it reminded me of the way he slapped down some poor ‘ordinary’ Liberal Democrat asking a question from the floor at Conference. Just unnecessary.

    Perhaps it was made worse when comparing this attitude with Obama’s victory speech. The contrast was stark. I seem to remember that our Leader started out saying that he would be very different at the dispatch box. The swamp that is that Chamber sucks you down. And there was more than a hint of misogyny. I was not surprised to see the Tory columnists rave about, but the general acclaim here and on three other posts is disappointing, as I am sure is my bleating.

    Sorry everyone.

  • Charles Beaumont 9th Nov '12 - 1:38pm

    To make the comparison with Obama’s victory speech is irrelevant: you can hardly claim that PMQs allows the person on the spot the opportunity for lofty rhetoric; and nor should it. The whole point is that the govt is held to account with hard questions. Big difference between debate and speechmaking. Also, I find it misogyny to suggest that Harman is entitled to different treatment because she’s female. Or am I missing the point somewhere?

  • For goodness sake dont apologise Bill!!! You were looking for visible substance in leadership rather than a performance.

  • Paul McKeown 10th Nov '12 - 2:56pm

    Do you get the feeling that the media has moved on to another story, having done “what a rotter Nick Clegg is” to death? No matter what was thrown at him, he just stood there and steadfastly tried to put across his message. Like all bullies, the media got bored and moved onto new victims.

    Am I also the only person who has got the feeling that the more maverick backbench Tories have decided that attacking the government isn’t a great career plan, given a General Election within the next two and a half years? Particularly after their recent rebellion? Peter Bone sounded positively reconciled towards the coalition of two parties. They say the devil has the best tunes, I suppose he can change them too. Has Sir George Young been working his charm?

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