Nick Clegg: It's sausage time


It's time people saw how the coalition's sausages are made. That, believe it or not, is how Nick Clegg describes his latest strategy.

The deputy prime minister believes it's time the public understood that policy-making in government is like a kitchen in which all sorts of recipes are suggested, but only some make it onto the menu. He wants voters to know which ingredients the Lib Dems added and, just as importantly, which they insisted were left out.

Hence today, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of his election as Lib Dem leader, Clegg will deliver a speech in which he claims credit for stopping deeper welfare cuts proposed by the Tories - in particular, proposals to remove housing benefit from the under-25s and child benefit from families with more than two children.

He also argues that pensioners' top-up benefits - the free bus pass, TV licence and winter fuel allowance - should be means-tested for the richest.

The speech will also condemn "the fantasy" of the Tory right that it is possible to leave Europe and curb immigration with no impact on economic growth.

All this after in recent weeks the DPM has advertised his differences on press regulation, the so-called "snoopers' charter" and Europe.

A new coalition split then? No, as it happens. It is often forgotten that the man who wants a Lib Dem revival almost as much as Clegg goes by the name of Cameron. Much of Labour's poll lead is rooted in defections from the Lib Dems.

Tory strategists talk of the need for the Lib Dems to be on around 15% of the vote - not, as now, below 10% - to deny Labour some seats and, as a result, for the Tories to have a chance of staying in power either alone or in coalition.

Just one problem, though. What if the sausage-making strategy proves as successful as Clegg's last hit single "I'm sorry"? What if his party continues to lose the fight for third place with UKIP in the polls?

That would be Nick's kitchen nightmare, and you don't need to take my word for it.

Just read the words of his close ally and former director of strategy, Richard Reeves, in this morning's Guardian: "A more assertive stance in act two of coalition should mean greater support and more votes. If not, the curtain will probably fall on the coalition before 2015."

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    243 cont'd

    I'd like to think that the public should be able to have confidence in both the police and the govt, but sadly this isn't the case. This, in my view, is essential for the country, and this needs to be restored somehow. I don't know how this can be achieved to be honest. But whilst I don't pretend to the answers, I can at least recognise there's a much wider problem to be addressed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    "'Go on have a go.....Let us have your ideas and we could perhaps get 'serious'."

    I'm simply pointing out that its difficult to know who to believe here, and given this is a govt minister and the police, this really can't be a good thing. If you want to get "serious" perhaps you can tell us what do you think happened here and who we should believe?

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    Why has it taken 3 months to review these tapes and check the evidence?
    Are we meant to believe they never thought to check? Or did they need "enhancing" to clearly show the absence of the witness?

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    Why did the two officers originally insulted by Mitchell not refute what appears to be a fabricated witness? - the Met are being very enigmatic about all this.

    Difficult to take any of this at face value.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.


    At the very least one would have expected a member of cabinet [if not the PM] to review the tapes.

    It beggars belief that did not happen.


Comments 5 of 244


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