UK Politics

Gillian Duffy - Brown 'bigot' row woman - collars Clegg

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Media captionMrs Duffy pressed Mr Clegg over why he had gone into coalition and whether he was happy with the policies the government was pursuing

Nick Clegg has been collared by Gillian Duffy - the feisty pensioner who made headlines at the election when she was called "bigoted" by Gordon Brown.

The deputy PM was visiting a factory in Rochdale when Mrs Duffy stopped him to ask whether he was happy with the coalition's policies.

Mr Clegg told her the government was taking tough decisions in order to cut the UK's deficit.

But she replied: "That's just the same speech you gave an hour ago."

Mrs Duffy, a lifelong Labour voter, confronted Mr Brown over immigration while he was on an election campaign visit to Rochdale last April.

Following the exchange, the then prime minister was heard telling an aide it had been a "disaster" and Mrs Duffy was "just a sort of bigoted woman".

Mr Brown later visited her at her home to apologise and said he was "mortified" at the incident.

'Magic wand'

Mrs Duffy, who was reportedly encouraged to approach Mr Clegg by the local Labour Party, accosted the deputy PM as he entered the factory.

She asked him why he had chosen to go into coalition with the Conservatives rather than Labour.

"Gordon Brown and I talked about it... [but] there was no way that the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats would have had enough MPs to run a government," he said.

"And I thought it was very important - still think it's very important - that you've got a government that actually can do things."

Mrs Duffy asked Mr Clegg whether he could look her in the eye and say he was happy with the coalition's policy decisions.

He replied: "I tell you what, whoever was in power now, any government now, would have to take difficult decisions.

"If anyone's telling you from the Labour Party that somehow there's a magic wand solution, that you can do this without any controversy, they're frankly fibbing to you."

Mr Clegg attempted to explain the reasoning behind the government's controversial deficit-reduction strategy, saying future generations would suffer if savings were not made now.

But Mrs Duffy said: "I've just been listening to you on the television, and I've listened to you on the radio, and that's just the same speech you gave an hour ago."

He replied: "I think it's really important though."

Afterwards, Mrs Duffy said Mr Clegg had failed to convince her that the coalition was making the right decisions.

"It's gone wrong," she said, "Let's face it, it's all gone wrong."

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