Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I thought Nick Clegg was meant to be "a media star"?

Following yesterday's absolute mauling on Newsnight by Paxo, you might have though Nick Clegg would make sure he had all bases covered. Let's start at the beginning.

Paxo asked, very reasonably, where the £20bn LibDem service cuts would come from. Poor Clegg floundered, err, um, yes, well and then failed to give any concrete answers; so why, carried on Paxo, have you chosen this figure given its not based on anything more than back of the envelope stuff? Clegg looked as if he wanted the ground to swallow him up. The whole interview was about this one issue and Clegg looked battered by the end. On a side issue, I'd actually blame Vince Cable for Clegg being so unprepared. If this was a Tory plan it would have torn to shreds in the same way, but Cable must have this worked out - doesn't he? So all day today the media have taken this to task. But there is something more important to remember.

LibDems cut spending by £20bn (they can't win from the start - because this is either a drop in the ocean or masisve spending cuts, depending on who you believe) and use some of the money to support their political priorities. The rest goes on tax cuts. Hence given their previous spending committments, the tax cuts are left looking very very small indeed. And still Clegg avoids another key question: does he support a reduced state and an overall smaller tax burden or not?

And then came today, Clegg tripped up by a regional media who asked him to give the cost of the basic state pension. As local councillors we would all be expected to know this - but Clegg gives the answer "£30". So Nick Clegg, the man who believes cost cutting in the credit crunch means shopping at Sainsburys rather than Waitrose, thinks our elderly survive on the same amount as sixth formers do on the EMA. Why on earth isn't he totally prepared for these kind of questions - pint of milk, interest rates, gallon of petrol and a pint of beer - they always come up. Nick Clegg shows just how out of step he is with Britain and out of touch with the people of our country.

Nick Clegg is, in my opinion, rather lucky that the government's woes are overshadowing his conference or people may just catch on to what a pisspoor leader he has turned out to be. But worst of all is this: all of these errors were self-inflicted and could have been avoided. Oh, how they must be desperate for Huhne.

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