UK Politics

Nick Clegg doesn't want protest to force 'retreat behind battlements'

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Media captionNick Clegg: "What I wouldn't like to do... is retreat behind the battlements"

Nick Clegg has said the anti-cuts protest outside his London home had scared some neighbours' young children.

The deputy prime minister and family were away during Saturday's protest.

Mr Clegg said he respected the right to protest, and noted it was peaceful, but said it showed how difficult trying to live "a normal life" could be.

He told the BBC he and his wife Miriam had rejected the idea of moving into a flat "behind the Whitehall battlements" when he entered government in 2010.

He said the protest meant they were now in "new territory" but he hoped his family would not have to "retreat" to official government accommodation.

Mr Clegg told the Andrew Marr Show: "We have lots of neighbours who like us have small children and some of those small children were quite scared so that's not, on a human level, very nice.

"But I have to say on the other hand the protesters, by the sounds of it, were entirely peaceful."

He said that they "didn't take up the offer to move into a flat behind the Whitehall battlements after the Government was formed because we wanted our children - still want our children - to lead as normal a life as possible".

"At the same time I accept if you're deputy prime minister in a government doing difficult things people want to make their views known," he added.

On Saturday hundreds of anti-cuts campaigners staged a "street party" protest, with disabled activists from UK Uncut chaining their wheelchairs at both ends of the street in Putney, south-west London, where he lives.

The group said it targeted Mr Clegg as he was "one of the architects of austerity".

Protesters put up bunting along the street and some were joined by their children. Some played music while others shared a picnic and the mood was described as relaxed.

Police said there were no arrests at the protest, which ended peacefully.

Louise Mensch, the Conservative MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire, took to Twitter to describe the demonstration as "intolerable bullying".

Activists also gathered outside Mr Clegg's constituency office in Fulwood in Sheffield where they were holding a 1940s-themed street party to "evoke the spirit of 1948" when the welfare state was created.

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