Any treasures in Nick Clegg’s Desert Island Discs?

Nick Clegg appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs this morning, and revealed his eight essential tunes, as well as a book and a luxury item with which to be marooned.

You can listen to the whole programme on iPlayer here but for the record, here’s Nick’s list:

  1. Chopin’s Waltz in A Minor (played by Idil Biret)
  2. Sunday Morning Coming Down (Johnny Cash)
  3. The Cross (Prince)
  4. Petit Pays (Cesaria Evora)
  5. Street Spirit (Radiohead)
  6. Life on Mars (David Bowie)
  7. Waka Waka – the theme to the 2010 World Cup (Shakira)
  8. Schubert’s Impromptu No.3 in G Flat Major (played by Alfred Brendel)
  • Book: The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
  • Luxury: A stash of cigarettes
  • As guilty pleasures go, it’s a pretty safe list; Desert Island Discs is a chance for famous people to judiciously bury treasure for the listeners to find, and from there to form their impression. Nick’s music ranges from centuries-old to this year’s summer hit, via milestones from childhood, studenthood and adulthood. There’s no deeper message to be gleaned from these than that Nick’s music is for wallpaper, rather than for political fuel. No Glee Club anthems here. Nick highlights his tracks’ pleasant associations rather than their intrinsic musical skill. Prince’s “The Cross” is noted more for its evocation of happy Minnesota memories than its resignation/salvation riff.

    Sure, there’ve been headlines about Nick’s occasional smoking habit (I thought this was already in the public domain), but for me the real surprise came in the accompanying interview with Kirsty Young:

    Nick mentions “luck” several times throughout the conversation, when speaking of his upbringing, his education and his rapid rise to be the Lib Dem leader, and then Deputy Prime Minister. It gives him an unassuming air, but seems a bit disingenuous given that Nick knows how opportunity, hard work and targeting can translate into success. As Lib Dems know, outcomes aren’t necessarily predictable: the Coalition has brought its plot twists, but surely a liberal narrative is informed by opportunity?

    His caution that “it’s not a time for triumphalism and bunting” may be a clue: Kirsty and Nick sprint through the coming cuts:

    Everything’s obscured at the moment by the perfectly understandable controversy about where the savings are being made and what I hope is that over time people will see that the picture that is emerging from what this government is doing is a good, progressive one.

    There’s more on the interview here and you can listen to it in full here.

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    This entry was posted in LibLink and Op-eds.


    • The Leopard is famous for the line ‘If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change’.

    • Good to see Nick has priorities right as usual. Personal P.R. first, Party second.

    • though he might have chosen the song ‘Brother can you spare me a dime’ – this is a song from the great depression and may resonate with current times.

    • As a Labour supporter I can honestly I have struggled to work Nick Clegg out – at times I have thought he was misunderstood and may actually be fair minded with a degree of compassion and honour (usually attributes missing from our rich elite) however now I have the image stuck in my head of him and Danny Alexander ‘congratulating’ Osborne on imposing the big hit to our Country in modern times. That will take a lot to undo>

      I also saw the following today be a contributor in one of the national newspapers:
      Reading the comments posted about Osborne and his correligionists, their motives and whether they really cared or could give a shit about the carnage to come – Clegg is apparently morally troubled – I thought about groupthink.

      Coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972), occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment”. Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions ….

      Some Symptoms of Groupthink

      Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
      Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
      Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
      Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
      Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
      Illusion of unanimity – The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous.
      I certainly do not trust Osborne and the behaviour of the Tory backbenchers cheering these ideological cuts only remnds me of the Thatcher years and what she inflicted on teh North of England especially – it has never fully recovered.
      Thatcher destroyed our manufacturing/industrial base and encouraged the rise of the Financial services sector Labour did nor reverse this. We are now paying the price. I cannot believe Lib DEms are prepared to do this to ths country for a seat in govt. I suspect if they had made a moral stand they would have actually won the next e;lection as people are ready for change though what it may mean is that they are ready to ditch Capitalism as it appears to benefit the few and creates poverty and brings misery for too many.

    • I might be disgusted at Nick’s continuing signs of being hopelessly out of touch wth the British public on how the Party is being seen (never mind the grassrooots) but I won’t let past a hugely misleading phrase like “Thatcher destroyed our manufacturing/industrial base and encouraged the rise of the Financial services sector Labour did nor reverse this.”

      Did not reverse this ? A teeny tiny bit of an understatement considering Blair and Brown were in love with the rich and the financial sector.

      And the groupthink you describe affected not just the Labour Party as they were dominated by a neoconservative Blair, but Blair himself as he stood side by side with Bush during the Iraq catastrophe. So it’s understandable a Labour supporter would be touchy about it.

    • There’s no disconnect between being thankful for your good luck and liberalism. My liberalism is partly about trying to make sure that luck plays less of a part than it currently does, and talent, choice & hard work much much more, but that doesn’t mean that I am not thankful for the luck I have had, even while I regret the unfairness of it as far as others are concerned.

    • @LDV Bob – the Blair/Bush analogy is interesting, and one I am drawn to in trying to make sense of NC’s wholehearted embrace of what is now being called ‘The British Axe’ [NYT]. Much as Blair considered himself to be a civilising influence and a brake on the US in Iraq, and failed to be, so it seems NC considered himself to be in a similar role within the coalition. That he has failed is obvious to all of us, except it seems, to him.

    • @Val

      great post and makes a very interesting read indeed.

      I too was appalled whilst watching the CSR and hearing Tory MP’s Cheering and waving their Papers at what was essentially the most savage cuts to public services and a direct hit on the lowest income families in Decades.

      I must admit at 1st i couldn’t help noticing how quiet Clegg and Alexander where throughout the speech and almost at times looked uncomfortable at announcements being made by Osbourne.

      I was starting to gain some respect for the pair as i believed they had shown some concern and Integrity.

      That All fell on it’s arse though the moment Osbourne had finished his speech, when Clegg & Alexander Cheered and congratulated their chancellor with pats on the back and shows of admiration.

      It was a complete lack of respect and showed total disregard towards millions of families who are from poorer backgrounds and more reliant on welfare on public services.

      Clegg and Alexander brought complete shame to the Liberal Party!

    • Helen Duffett 24th Oct '10 - 9:13pm

      Jennie, I agree: gratitude is good and important, and it’s lovely to hear how starstruck Nick is by Miriam and the boys, but was surprised that Nick majored quite so much on “luck” in the electoral context.

    • “Luxury: A stash of cigarettes”

      Any remaining respect I had for the man has evaporated on reading that.

    • Joe. It’s not just about the 10%. It’s the framework of values used to decide where the cuts should fall. I live in a Libdem coalition city. They chose to attack services for disabled people first. Now I’m seeing it played out nationally. It’s a bad dream from which we cannot awake [at least those of us left to pick up the pieces].

    • Joe Otten,

      Yawn. The ConDems have repeatedly condemned Labour for irresponsible deficit denial. Then Osborne gets up and condemns Labour for planning bigger cuts than the ones he has just announced. I never thought we could rival Tony Blair for mendacity. I was wrong.

    • Malcolm Todd 24th Oct '10 - 11:42pm

      Sesenco said:

      “Luxury: A stash of cigarettes”

      Any remaining respect I had for the man has evaporated on reading that.

      Funny. I almost started to like him again at that.

    • Anti-smoking fascists are really rather irritating.

    • Anthony Aloysius St 25th Oct '10 - 8:23am

      “There is plenty of opportunity on LDV to say what you like or dislike about Nick Clegg.”

      Hmm. Oddly enough, if you say he is a fool – which I’d have thought was one of the less controversial opinions of him – the moderators will remove your comment (at least they did mine)!

    • Joe Otten

      If your figures are correct.

      “Labour would cut 67% of the deficit (perhaps now shifting opportunistically to 60%), to the coalition’s 77%, the rest being tax rises. Clearly the 10% (or 17% ”

      £81 Billion Minus 17% = £13.77 Billion

      That;s 13.7 Billion pound that can be stopped from hitting the welfare bill and IMHO that would be a much fairer way of cutting the deficit and protecting the poor, sick and the Vulnerable.

    • Poppie's mum 25th Oct '10 - 10:15am

      He sounded very self pitying when asked about the cuts. Not an attractive trait and one that is turning off people in shedloads. He should save his pity for those who will suffer because of his decisions.

      Some tracks he could have chosen:

      Gimme Shelter [the Coalition cut my housing benefit]
      I’m a Yesterday’s Man
      [I’m just a Tory enabling] Puppet on a String
      Help [Lib Dems polling 10% and dropping]
      I Can’t Explain [why I reverse my pledges]
      Nowhere Man
      Respect [no one’s got any for me anymore]
      How Much Is That Doggy in the Window [Clegg backs plans to privatise all pets]

    • Matt – ‘£81 Billion Minus 17% = £13.77 Billion’
      With arithmatic as good as this a job in the Labour economics team is yours for the taking!

    • Poppie's mum 25th Oct '10 - 10:20am

      Antony Alosyius Saint

      I’m surprised you’ve been moderated for calling Clegg a fool.
      Online dictionary definition
      One who is deficient in judgment, sense, or understanding. 2. One who acts unwisely on a given occasion:

      Even the Lib Dem moderators cannot argue that Clegg signing pledges to gain votes and campaigning against VAT rises he then supports etc are not unwise actions.
      As to deficient in judgment, sense or understanding…everyone is entitled to their opinion.

      Using those definitions a lot of people obviously regard Clegg as a fool. Hence his approval ratings now lowest of all the party leaders and the Lib Dems 10% in the polls.

    • Poppie's mum 25th Oct '10 - 10:20am

      sorry should be ‘not wise actions’

    • @Leekliberal

      Do the Maths yourself

      17% of £81 Billion = £13.77 Billion

      That’s £13.77 Billion less that can be hit from the Welfare Bill.

    • @sesenco
      “Luxury: A stash of cigarettes”
      Any remaining respect I had for the man has evaporated on reading that”

      Funny that, because I have the same view about people who want to control what people do in their own private time to their own bodies, as anti-smoking bullies do. Authoritarian control-freakery.

      I say that a life-long non-smoker BTW.


      I very much agree with Geoffrey Payne’s comment about the choice of Schubert’s Impromptu No. 3, and I thought this link to a site on the composer’s work might show Nick has more sides to him than may at first seem apparent by selecting this particular version as his Desert island Disc.

    • Charlie Hamilton 25th Oct '10 - 5:22pm

      “Desert Island Discs is a chance for famous people to judiciously bury treasure for the listeners to find”.

      The fact he says there’s no real story behind the inclusion of Street Spirit leads me to wonder if there’s a hidden message there… “I can feel their blue hands touching me”…? Fear of falling under the malign Tory influence?

      I think I’m clutching at straws.

    • @Charlie Hamilton
      “I can feel their blue hands touching me”…….. do you mean the bright blue names that are considered “decent posters” by the couple of party apparatchiks on this site?

    • @Anthony Aloysius St

      LOL @your last post, very good 🙂

    • Patrick Smith 25th Oct '10 - 9:42pm

      I have n`t listened to the full show yet but consider that Nick Clegg`s choice of music was both eclectic and personal and the interview outlined his deep debt to his mother,a child captive witness to WW2 POW atrocities, committed by the Japanese.

      Nick Clegg is a very devoted father and has a deep Liberal conviction to eradicate child poverty,over time, by a series of progressive of L/D led child and family centred reform.

      Clearly if music is the motif to human personality, than we have a L/D Leader who is very much in touch with his musical heritage and roots ,which I trust will bode well for great Liberal reforms over this `Coalition Government’.

      Music is the great window into the soul as Desert Isand Discs since 1942 has portrayed and surely is the best BBC programme that shows light on an individual`s true personality and character and often secret human foibles.

    • Ryan M,

      Ah, I see. You want to dictate to me what I feel about people who misuse tobacco. Sorry, I’ll feel what I like. And if that upsets you, tough.

    • allentaylorhoad 25th Oct '10 - 11:33pm

      I’m surprised that Nick Clegg didn’t choose ‘White Flag’ by Dido as one of his pieces of music:-

      “I know I left too much mess and
      destruction to come back again
      And I caused nothing but trouble
      I understand if you can’t talk to me again
      And if you live by the rules of “it’s over”
      then I’m sure that that makes sense.

      I will go down with this ship
      And I won’t put my hands up and surrender
      There will be no white flag above my door.”

    • Poppie's mum 26th Oct '10 - 8:32am

      Huw Dawson Cheers LDV for the bright blue names when people link a website! It’s much easier to skim and pick out the decent posters now. <b.

      Is what you meant to say, cheers for giving blue name tags to tribalist Lib Dem supporters who won't hear a shred of criticism against their leadership. That sort of attitiude and you'll be polling 5% in six months.

    • I am surprised that Hugh Dawson, who apparently contributes articles to this site, should consider his views superior to those of most of his readers.
      Posting as a student studying the usual, he may care to share his bright blue status with those of us blacks whose posts he considers less than.decent.

    • I will buy Nick Clegg some cigarettes f he would like to try out being marooned on a desert island.

      Why is there now segregation on this site? Not very healthy is it?

    • @ Helen Duffett
      So why the coments on ‘decent posters’ then? Do you have to have a website to be ‘decent’?

    • Liberal Neil 28th Oct '10 - 8:31pm

      @ matt

      I think @Leekliberal’s point was that you originally said “£81 Billion Minus 17% = £13.77 Billion” when in fact £81 billion Minus 17% = £67.23 Billion”

      In your response to @Leekliberal you said “17% of £81 Billion = £13.77 Billion” which is correct.

      Of course the big issue is that Labour left such a big hole to fill, and are still intent on taking so long to fill the hole, which in the end will mean a bigger national debt and more money needed to pay the interest on it which could otherwise be spent on welfare or public services.

    • Liberal Neil 28th Oct '10 - 8:34pm

      Overall it’s a good selection. Life on Mars is one of my all time favourite songs (catch the version by steve hogarth on youtube, it’s immense) and Street Spirit is excellent too. I know from the occasions I have acted as Nick’s driver that he is a huge Bowie fan.

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