Nick Clegg tells Pink News: Equalities won’t fall off the radar on my watch

Nick Clegg spoke to Pink News last night shortly before the equalities reception which has caused so much controversy. Never has so much newsprint been used up over something that a politician never said or intended to say. Asked about the “bigot” affair, Nick said that it was not the kind of word he would use.

He also spoke about the new ministerial team handling Equalities. Last night, as Nick Thornsby reported, Jo Swinson was appointed as an Equalities Minister a full week after the completion of the rest of the reshuffle. There is clearly a story as to why it took so long to finalise the details, but Nick didn’t shed too much light on it. He talked about the move of the Government Equalities Unit from the Home Office to being split between the Culture Media and Sport and Business, Innovation and Skills Department.

This happens from time to time, to be honest there is no hard and fast rule that it should stay in the Home Office…and we all felt the combination of Maria Miller, Helen Grant at the DCMS and the Liberal Democrat Equality Minister Jo Swinson from the Business department would be a very effective team to promote this agenda.

The fact that people at the top of the government, myself and others, are keen… supporters of this agenda means it won’t fall off anyone’s radar screen no matter which department it’s located in…

…I think it is incredibly important that the values of all ministers around the cabinet table are tolerant, liberal and open, and that’s exactly what I think is the centre of gravity around the top of the government.

It doesn’t take too much imagination to work out that it’s the Liberal Democrats who are injecting that liberal, tolerant approach. If we weren’t there, the likes of Nadine Dorries and Peter Bone would be calling the shots and there would be no hope of achieving equal marriage. Nick reiterated his staunch support for full marriage equality and said he hoped legislation would be forthcoming. It’s certainly an issue we can’t afford to fail on, especially as the SNP Government in Scotland is bringing forward a bill for full equal marriage in Scotland this year.

You can read Nick’s whole interview here.

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

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  • ” we all felt the combination of Maria Miller, Helen Grant at the DCMS and the Liberal Democrat Equality Minister Jo Swinson from the Business department would be a very effective team to promote this agenda”

    But they all forgot to mention that Jo Swinson would be part of the “team” for more than a week after the reshuffle, even though they could all see how unhappy party members were with the perceived fact that responsibility for equalities had moved to the Tories? Absolutely unbelievable.

    One of the things I dislike most about Nick Clegg is the extent to which he seems to assume people are gullible enough to be fobbed off with transparent nonsense like this.

  • So, Caron, will you still support Nick Clegg when he fails on gay marriage? He has already given up on almost all of the things I care about , so I want you to put yourself in my position for a moment, and imagine he fails to deliver on something YOU care about.

    And why is Clegg’s department so badly arranged that it circulates things he “would never say” to the media in his name?

  • “It doesn’t take too much imagination to work out that it’s the Liberal Democrats who are injecting that liberal, tolerant approach. If we weren’t there, the likes of Nadine Dorries and Peter Bone would be calling the shots and there would be no hope of achieving equal marriage.”

    Caron, much as I accept that parts of the Conservative Party are opposed to gay marriage, it is absurd to pretend that the likes of Dorries or Bone would have much influence on Cameron, with or without lib dem support. Besides even if parts of the Tories rebel and vote against gay marriage there would be overwhelming support from Labour and the Lib Dems to get the policy through.

    I’d worry more about whoever it was on Nick Clegg’s team that decided that calling opponents of gay marriage ‘bigots’, true or not, was a politically constructive thing to do, because that only serves to antagonise opponents and gives them newspaper headlines.


  • And do I gather that bigot is now a politically incorrect word? I agree, it is the sort of word that the person purporting to say it should approve, and if Nick found out about it after its submission, then a mess up had been made. It is the mind of word most of us in politics use at some time – perhaps after the Gordon Brown fiasco in Rochdale we will not expect it to be PUBLICLY attributed to any serving elected politician!

  • Helen Dudden 12th Sep '12 - 12:35pm

    I would say to Nick, I feel that as a woman, life is still difficult when it comes to the so-called male territory. I think we are different, but we add something a little different. It is well known that we like situations where we can give to others. As a woman, I do not have the same aggression, but that does not mean I will back down when placed in a situation, of male dominance. There is a need for mor women at the top, not less.

  • paul barker 12th Sep '12 - 1:55pm

    Of should be Off.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 12th Sep '12 - 2:00pm

    Paul, you have no idea how utterly mortified I feel about that one. I typed this post and then rushed out for a meeting and am only just back.

    Sackcloth and ashes for me for at least the rest of the week. I’ve amended it now, so it’ll just be our secret, ok?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 12th Sep '12 - 2:02pm

    Terry, I’m expecting equal marriage to be fully implemented. End of.

  • LondonLiberal 12th Sep '12 - 2:08pm

    Wow. I’ve onlty read the headline but i’m already impressed. NIck Clegg has a RADAR on his watch! cool!

  • @ Caron: Bet you it doesn’t happen in this Parliament.
    @ London Liberal: Pity it doesn’t have a better bullshit detector!

  • Surely without the coalition Peter Bone (and his wife) would be largly unknown outside his constituency. It’s only his rapidly anti-Nick Clegg stuff, his obsession with the death of the PM and completely that have allowed this crank to hog so much media lime light.

  • I see that equal marriage is the new Lib Dem standard that has to be “achieved”. That will be after PR (watered down to AV) that failed and Lords Reform that was chucked out by your coalition partners. No need to mention tuition fees and the pledge you all signed. There seems to be a down ward trend in terms of the importance of these “must have” Lib Dem policies that are or have been achieved (I’m never sure witch as all Lib Dems from Nick Clegg down seem to be unable to distinguish between the past and present tenses in terms of that which has been “achieved” and that which has not yet been “achieved”. As this sentence from Nick Clegg makes clear: “Equal marriage is just one of the many Liberal Democrat achievements in Government that our new Ministerial team are committed to delivering”. The fact is that equal marriage in England has not yet been “achieved” and is, therefore, not a Lib Dem “achievement” in Government. It also seems ever more likely that it wont be “achieved” or “delivered” either.

    As I understand it the Tory awkward squad are furious that the Lib Dems ruined their efforts to ditch the Lib Dems as coalition partners by gerrymandering the seats to give the Tories another 20 seats. The Lib Dems did this because the Tory awkward squad got their coalition partner David Cameron to chuck out their last must have policy, lords reform. As a result of all this the awkward squad are now out to stymie the Lib Dems new must have policy equal marriage.

    In Scotland the SNP have tabled a bill in this session to equalise marriage. This has nothing to do with the Lib Dems or Nick Clegg and there is nothing that the Tories or their awkward squad can do to stop it. It looks to me like boom times for Gretna Green as gay couples come up north to get married.

  • Its good to know that Clegg has a radar on his watch, this will stop us from bumping into things.

  • Paul McKeown 13th Sep '12 - 11:15am

    Concerning “bigot-gate” it’s interesting to read the editorial piece in yesterday’s Evening Standard:


    THE Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has hastened to distance himself from the word “bigot” that featured in the draft of a speech of his in connection with opponents of gay marriage. Some opponents admittedly hardly fall into that category, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. But it is also true that opposition to it has attracted those with quite irrational objections and whose stance is chiefly determined by the fact that they simply don’t like gays and gay relationships. Bigots, in short.”

    Perhaps he should have stuck to his guns? The Evening Standard is read by millions.

    [Strangely, I can’t find this editorial piece in the online edition, only in the print edition.]

  • Matthew Huntbach 13th Sep '12 - 1:41pm

    Other things we can do to advance equality:

    Ban the words “husband” and “wife” – it is surely against the principles we are establishing here to have a separate word for the two different people in a marriage.

    Ban the words “gay” and “lesbian” – it is surely against the principles we are establishing here to have a separate word for people who like people of the same gender as opposed to a different gender, and more so to have a separate word for those of one gender who do this as opposed to the other.

    Insist on the use of the word “spouse” rather than “partner” – now we have fetishised marriage as a superior form, of relationship to any else and which all may enter, it is surely undermining what we are doing by not making sure we distinguish between it and common-or-garden shacking-up.

    Introduce a whacking big inheritance tax, and use the proceeds to pay student fees and other things that ensure people really do start life on an equal footing. Er, ok, sorry, I didn’t realise that by “equality” we now mean “a token effort which doesn’t cost anything, and certainly doesn’t interrupt the growth in division between the rich and poor which has given it its admirable economic progress”.

  • Ho ho very satirical.

    But you know I still haven’t seen any argument against same-sex marriage that makes any kind of logical sense, except for the ones based on social conservatism, religious dogma or the view that homosexual relationships are (at best) inferior to heterosexual relationships.

    Is your recourse to sarcasm an indication that you haven’t, either?

  • @Matthew – wonderful , if nothing else it will induce a welcome Tory apoplexy!

  • Genuine question: other than not using the word “marriage”, how does a Civil Partnership differ from from a Civil Wedding in its ceremonial and legal attributes?

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