Second train wreck of the day: Nick Clegg

The first train wreck of the day was Gordon Brown, obviously. The second one is Nick Clegg’s interview with Eddie Mair on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme. This is no joke. Clegg was an unmitigated disaster. [The audio clip is not yet available, will post when available].

Nick Clegg struggled to answer Eddie Mair’s questions. Oh, what a superb interviewer is Eddie Mair. Starting off by asking Clegg to confirm his interest in being Prime Minister, to which Clegg said yes.

Mair then said he’d ask questions about the man who might be Prime Minister, such as about Clegg’s lack of religious faith. Clegg’s answer was shambolic. All pauses, ums, aahs, … bluster, bluster. and no sensible answer given. Most un-prime ministerial.

Clegg only got into his stride when asked questions about LibDem policy, but even then he was caught by the sharpness of Eddie Mair’s questions on Trident, and voting reform.

Ending the interview, Eddie Mair went back to question about Clegg’s inner man, asking, ‘When did you cry last?’ Nick Clegg, pause, hum, aah, … more pauses, bluster, bluster. Shambolic.

Result; Impression given is that Clegg is a political chancer with no inner values. Heck, this is a man who says he wants to run the country and is outwitted by an interviewer. Phew.

12 thoughts on “Second train wreck of the day: Nick Clegg

  1. I don’t think “when did you cry last?” is an appropriate question to ask anyone – I was particularly disgusted when STV asked it to David Cameron a couple of months ago (in the context of the Morgan/Brown interview).

    However Clegg’s lack of expertise is rather unsurprising, most of his party’s policies are not very well thought through and he is spectacularly poorly-briefed about details of public life not covered by the Lib Dem manifesto. Charles Kennedy was able to get away with it because he spoke slowly with a slightly inpenetrable Scottish accent – Clegg runs out of things to say quickly and clearly.

    What a shame it happened on a day when nobody was listening to anything he had to say.


  2. I too heard the interview but think Eddie Mair’s questions were odd and as a listener it wasn’t obvious what he was asking. I think Clegg did ok.


  3. Your comments are highly accurate from the first part I heard on the drive home. That Nick Clegg was caught off-guard on the questions about his religious faith was to be expected – though he should have been able to think on his feet better than he did.
    But to end up mumbling on voting reform and on muslim women covering their faces in public – things where there is easy liberal responses – shows a certain lack of astutenes as a politician and shows a certain shallowness when it comes to core liberal values.


  4. Clegg promised a referendum before any change to the voting system !

    If I understood correctly that is a game changer.

    Generally though his worst performance ever sadly.


  5. Yes, I heard that. I was struck but the way Clegg would habitually buy himself time by repeating the question back, v-e-r-y slowly with umms and aah and goshes. He was uncertain throughout, probably knocked off balance by the first question being about faith (and lack of).

    This way this was engulfed by Brown’s media suicide reminds me of both Aldous Huxley and C. S. Lewis croaking on the day that Kennedy was shot. The crucial difference is that in this case Clegg must be hugging himself that he got away with a truly dismal performance. He’s having a charmed election.


  6. So, he didn’t give off-pat “answers”. Instead he was thoughtful and actually answered the questions.

    His manner was discursive but came across as thoughtful.

    I thought his answer on faith was good and revealing. He said he didn’t reject faith, but that it had never come to him. I think that’s a very honest and refreshing answer.

    On crying he said that he often cried to music. Again, an honest answer.

    I thought his answer on the burkha was perfectly sensible. He said women should be allowed to wear it if they liked. A perfectly liberal response.

    People are often complaining that politicians don’t answer the questions and just give pre-planned responses about what they want to talk about instead.

    Here, Clegg genuinely answered the questions in a thoughtful and intellectual way.

    But that’s not right either, you say. He was human and “ummed” a bit, as he thought.

    He can’t win can he? If you want pre-prepared snappy soundbites, fine. But don’t complain when a politician genuinely engages with the questions and talks in a way that every other human being talks.

    Normal people, when asked a question for which they don’t have a pre-prepared answer learnt by rote, do “um” and “ah” as they think about it. That is what Clegg did in that PM interview. He was acting like a normal human being.


  7. By the way, this interview was more like “In the psychiatrist’s chair” than a normal news interview. That would explain why the answers were more conversation, just like “In the psychiatrist’s chair”.

    I honestly have never heard anyone being asked “Why don’t you have a faith?” It seems a bizarre question. I have heard many people being asked “Why do you have a faith?” but not the other way round. It was as if the presumption behind the question was that normal people ought to have a faith, which is nonsense.


  8. I happened to be listening to the radio, and happened to hear the interview. I was surprised by how unimpressive Clegg was, and was pleased to see this blog-comment highlighted by Iain Dale so that I could endorse the author’s comments.

    I simply think that it was very fortunate for Clegg that it was a ‘fast news’ day. Brown did him an enormous favour by bogging up in Rochdale.


  9. Did we listen to the same interview?
    I agree the questions were weird, and I wondered why Clegg kept on giving such honest replies. But I forgot, only Tories’ propaganda is welcome on this site!


  10. Caroline. Everybody takes their own view on what they see and hear. I hope you don’t think that opposing opinion is necessarily propoganda as that assumes a baseness of motive that this site does not have. Just thought I needed to say that in these heightened political times. Tim


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