Peter Hoskin

Clegg responds - Part II

Clegg responds - Part II
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Here are Nick Clegg's answers to the last five questions put forward by CoffeeHousers.  For his first five responses click here.

Q: MPs were already a devalued currency with the public following years of labour spin, expense fraud etc. Would you agree that their stock has diminished even further following the refusal of the government, helped by your party's abstention, to give a referendum on the Lisbon constitution? Can you understand why people are put off politicians by this cynical game of MPs putting party before country? – Pete

A: People are fed up with politicians – but for a lot of reasons, not just one. That’s why I’ve said it’s time to change politics utterly. I want to build a new system of government – devolved, accountable and responsive. It’s because people feel so disenfranchised by the political system that individual issues inspire such strong feelings. We need to give people greater control over what happens to their family, their local community, and our national  democracy.

Q: If there were to be a hung parliament at the next election, would it not make more sense for you as an Orange Book Lib Dem, to align yourself with the Cameroons given their aims on education and the economy? And is the only thing stopping you from doing this the fact that the majority of your MPs Kennedy et al, are far more Labour inclined, if so are you not in the wrong party? - Nick Kaplan

A: I’m not interested in signing away Liberal Democrats – and the six million people who voted for us at the last election – to any other political party. We have a strong, clear, liberal agenda. We want to cut taxes for ordinary families. We want to give people the power to protect their environment. We want to rebuild our education system so it gives opportunity to every child. And we will use the power and influence granted us by the voters at the next election to deliver on those objectives, in whatever way necessary.

Q: Will having an in/out referendum on Europe be in your next manifesto and be a precondition of you joining a coalition government? I only ask because I suspect that this policy was only invented to get you out of your Lisbon promise and you will now discard it. Tell me I am wrong. - Matthew Turnbull

A: I argued for an In-Out Referendum – and have done so for years - because I’m convinced it’s the right thing for Britain. We’ve got to put the big question to the people of this country about our future in Europe, instead of getting mired in legalistic arguments about a particular treaty. I am unashamedly pro-European. I believe the EU offers us safety in numbers at a time of enormous global upheaval, and is our best hope at tackling threats from climate change to international terrorism which we can’t possibly deal with on our own. It’s time to win that argument again, with the generations of people who’ve never had their say. The Conservative view that a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is sufficient to settle that debate is nonsense. Just imagine how betrayed the opponents of the EU would feel  if they voted down the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum only to find that the EU formed by the Single European Act, the Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice Treaties would simply carry on as before?

Q: You had the courage publicly to declare that you are an atheist. How does your secular outlook affect your political views? - Simon Maynard

A: I have tremendous respect for people with faith, it’s just not something I have myself. But I think it’s absolutely vital to keep politics and faith separate. Government shouldn’t make moral judgements about what people do or do not believe: faith is a private, personal decision that politicians should not interfere with.

Q: Who is your favourite 'Star Wars' character and why? - Guy Incognito

A: Didn’t everyone want to be Han Solo? The outlaw who rescues the princess, a bit rough on the outside but does the right thing in the end. I always thought Luke was a bit too drippy.