James Forsyth

Clegg gets through his Q&A untroubled

Clegg gets through his Q&A untroubled
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There were no explosions during Nick Clegg’s Q&A with Lib Dem members. Some unease with the dynamics of the coalition was expressed: a questioner who asked why the Liberal Democrats were getting the blame for the cuts and the Tories the credit for policies Lib Dems had brought to the coalition got huge applause, but there was nothing approaching a revolt.

 

Clegg expressed a lot of dissatisfaction with both the Labour party and the media, he even name-checked Polly Toynbee at one point. He accused Labour of being in "a near state of apoplexy and hysteria" and indulging in "a betrayal myth". He claimed that when it came to the cuts, Labour would have done "the vast bulk of what we are going to have to do".

 

From a policy point of view, one thing worth noting is how Clegg went out of his way to defend welfare reform. "I believe in work as one of the engines of social progress", he declared.

 

But there were signs that even the deputy PM hasn’t got used to being in power yet. As he talked about increasing aid to Pakistan post floods, he said with a real note of surprise in his voice "I can announce," before repeating the phrase with slightly more conviction.