Nick Clegg backs BBC in a feisty press conference

Nick Clegg on the BBCNick Clegg’s press conference, postponed from Monday because a crane had blown on to the Cabinet Office roof, took place this afternoon and the leader was in fairly sparky form.

Tweets from the BBC’s Chris Mason and ITV’s Carl Dinnen revealed his comments on HS2 where he absolutely savaged Labour’s position, decrying it as miserable, pathetic and a betrayal of the north.

On energy costs, he repeated his assertion that Ed Miliband’s energy bill freeze was a con:

He also reiterated the need for the green levies that the Tories want to do away with:

He also repeated something he’s being saying a lot recently about the practical results of the Government’s economic policy, what it means for people in their daily lives:

He went out of his way to distance himself from comments made by Conservative chairman Grant Shapps over the weekend in which he hinted that the BBC could have its licence fee cut. Asked if he agreed with Grant Shapps, his answer was simple – and, I’m sure, delivered cheerily.

The BBC reports:

Asked about Mr Shapps’ comments at his monthly press conference, Mr Clegg said it was “self-evident” the BBC – which is largely funded by the TV licence fee – must be sensible about its spending and be a “guardian of impartial reporting”.

“The new BBC leadership has got its work cut out to make sure that is the case,” he said.

But he added: “That being said, like clockwork a few months before a general election now it seems, and certainly in the past, chairmen and women of the Conservative Party will pop up and start seeking to browbeat the BBC.

“I hope that is not what Grant Shapps intended because I don’t think that it is very healthy at all when political parties start trying to have go at the impartiality of the BBC.

“It’s something we have seen a lot of before and something I hope we don’t see more of again.”


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

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  • Eddie Sammon 30th Oct '13 - 5:36pm

    How is Ed Miliband’s price controls on the energy sector a con and Steve Webb’s price controls on the pensions sector not?

    If Nick believes in keeping interest rates at 0.5% then ask why doesn’t he lend money to a bank at 0.5%?

  • Why is Clegg attacking Miliband on green energy, when it is Miliband’s Green Taxes that Clegg is defending against an attempt by Cameron to repeal them?

    Surely Clegg should be supporting Miliband on energy against Tory attempts to undo the work they both support?

  • I wonder why it is that people find it so hard to spell ‘Miliband’ correctly.

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Oct '13 - 6:11pm

    Even if he is talking about borrowing costs, one of the main reasons they are so low is because of quantitative easing, which means you get higher inflation instead.

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Oct '13 - 6:14pm

    Simon, I don’t agree with Ed Miliband’s price controls, far too draconian for my liking, I just don’t see the fundamental difference between that and other government policies. If our policies are great then his can’t be a con because I don’t think the difference is that great.

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Oct '13 - 6:16pm

    Ed Miliband has said there could be an allowance of wholesale prices shoot up to greater than retail prices, so again, I think this is a difference between degrees.

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Oct '13 - 6:57pm

    Simon, I see what you are saying. I still don’t see a big difference, but I see your point.

  • Stuart Mitchell 30th Oct '13 - 7:42pm

    @Simon: “it appears that energy prices to consumers will be fixed for nearly 2 years from 2015, whatever happens to the world price of energy (up or down). In other words, even though most of the costs are outside the energy companies’ control, prices would be fixed.”

    Were you not paying attention in the other thread? Energy companies already reduce their exposure to wholesale market fluctuations by buying energy months or years in advance. That’s why prices change perhaps annually rather than monthly. You also keep glossing over the fact that energy prices appear to have very little correlation with wholesale prices at all, as Ofgem’s evidence yesterday made all too clear.

    Yesterday’s Daily Mail reported that 80% of voters (including even 70% of Tories) back Miliband’s plan. How much does that annoy you?

    The public overwhelmingly believe that the energy firms are profiteers who operate as a cartel within a dysfunctional market and can easily afford to drop prices regardless of what’s happening globally. Ironically enough, one of the people who tried hardest to convince the public of all this was the very same Nick Clegg who now calls Ed Miliband’s modest price freeze proposal a “naïve con”. See :-

  • There is a chance that, by 2015, Miliband will have made the weather sufficiently to force the current government to change things so much that there is no “need” for a 20-month freeze.

  • Little Jackie Paper 30th Oct '13 - 10:19pm

    Simon Shaw – Thing is though, it might not matter if people don’t believe him. On energy prices specifically I assume (stress, assume) that what he has in mind is something like the Italians did a few years ago. The template is there and all that is needed is political will. Whether a possible junior Coalition partner would seek to block such a policy is a matter for conjecture. But I suspect that this is not just about energy. To paraphrase the wise man, Ed M’s thinking what a lot of other people are thinking. This is about corporatism.

    I suspect a lot of people are dubious about the price freeze. I’m one. But what Ed M did is stand up and say that policy would not work on the basis that what is in corporate interest is in everyone’s interest. That is what has captured the imagination and the sense I get is that the Coalition has no response.

    And frankly, good on Ed M for saying what has for many years, under successive governments, felt unsayable.

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