‘Who is Nick Clegg?’ Find out tonight on BBC Radio 4

Tune in tonight, at 10.45 pm, to BBC Radio 4 if you want to hear Richard Reeves, director of think-tank Demos, examine the intellectual and philosophical roots of the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, for the Political Roots: Liberals programme. (Repeated on Wednesday 2 December at 8.45 pm).

The BBC website carries an article by Richard, trailing the programme, with some revealing quotes from Nick – for example on the influence of his family in creating a liberal within him:

There was something floating around in my family … I don’t want to make it sound as earnest as it does – we were a perfectly normal family in that sense – but there was something very much in my upbringing which had an almost romanticised view of Britain as a home of liberty.”

And his liberal tendency towards bolshiness:

I’ve probably as a character got a bolshiness in me as well, which abhors arbitrary, illegitimate power, whether it’s the kind of pantomime that passes for our democracy in Westminster through to people arrogating to themselves authoritarian powers over other people. I think there’s a bolshiness to Liberalism, which says that if anyone has power, that power’s got to constantly be challenged and justified and held accountable.”

Then there’s Nick’s definition of a liberal:

I see Liberalism funnily enough not really even as a political label. I see it as a description of a state of mind – a generosity of spirit, generosity of heart, great optimism – because it starts with a very intuitive belief that individuals can do great things if they’re, if they’re empowered to do so. It’s very, very optimistic.”

And, finally, his distinction between progressives and conservatives:

A progressive believes that there’s nothing inevitable, there’s nothing fatalistic, there’s nothing static about the human condition. A conservative is pessimistic. A conservative thinks, well basically, ‘Yeah we can tick around the edges, but life is kind of as it is’.”

You can read the article in full here.

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