David Blackburn

Loyal Clegg’s slippery tongue

Oddly, David Cameron’s most voluble supporter throughout the phone-hacking psychodrama has been Nick Clegg. The deputy prime minister took to the airwaves when no Tory dared or wanted to. Earlier today, Clegg gave a speech-cum-press conference and he defended the prime minister again, saying that he had very little to add to Cameron’s statement yesterday. He also defended Cameron over unanswered questions about Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of BskyB; Clegg said that Cameron had “nothing to do” with the deal, although he added that Vince Cable’s reservations had been vindicated.

Clegg then elaborated on media regulation. Unsurprisingly, he insisted that the status quo must change. It was ludicrous, he said, that the Press Complaints Commission’s code of coduct is judged by editors and chaired by Paul Dacre. There must be more transparency and accountability, he said, repeating again the mantra of this government. Interestingly, he also said that regulation cannot be static: “the plurality test should be continuous.”

There were a few questions about the business of public service reform. Faced with the news that the police force will be 34,000 officers lighter by 2015, Clegg was stoic. “There is more scope,” he said for the police to become more efficient without cutting jobs, sticking exactly to the line taken by Theresa May.

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Finally, Clegg talked about the Eurozone crisis.

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