Nick Clegg: It's sausage time


It's time people saw how the coalition's sausages are made. That, believe it or not, is how Nick Clegg describes his latest strategy.

The deputy prime minister believes it's time the public understood that policy-making in government is like a kitchen in which all sorts of recipes are suggested, but only some make it onto the menu. He wants voters to know which ingredients the Lib Dems added and, just as importantly, which they insisted were left out.

Hence today, on the eve of the fifth anniversary of his election as Lib Dem leader, Clegg will deliver a speech in which he claims credit for stopping deeper welfare cuts proposed by the Tories - in particular, proposals to remove housing benefit from the under-25s and child benefit from families with more than two children.

He also argues that pensioners' top-up benefits - the free bus pass, TV licence and winter fuel allowance - should be means-tested for the richest.

The speech will also condemn "the fantasy" of the Tory right that it is possible to leave Europe and curb immigration with no impact on economic growth.

All this after in recent weeks the DPM has advertised his differences on press regulation, the so-called "snoopers' charter" and Europe.

A new coalition split then? No, as it happens. It is often forgotten that the man who wants a Lib Dem revival almost as much as Clegg goes by the name of Cameron. Much of Labour's poll lead is rooted in defections from the Lib Dems.

Tory strategists talk of the need for the Lib Dems to be on around 15% of the vote - not, as now, below 10% - to deny Labour some seats and, as a result, for the Tories to have a chance of staying in power either alone or in coalition.

Just one problem, though. What if the sausage-making strategy proves as successful as Clegg's last hit single "I'm sorry"? What if his party continues to lose the fight for third place with UKIP in the polls?

That would be Nick's kitchen nightmare, and you don't need to take my word for it.

Just read the words of his close ally and former director of strategy, Richard Reeves, in this morning's Guardian: "A more assertive stance in act two of coalition should mean greater support and more votes. If not, the curtain will probably fall on the coalition before 2015."

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    243 cont'd

    I'd like to think that the public should be able to have confidence in both the police and the govt, but sadly this isn't the case. This, in my view, is essential for the country, and this needs to be restored somehow. I don't know how this can be achieved to be honest. But whilst I don't pretend to the answers, I can at least recognise there's a much wider problem to be addressed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    "'Go on have a go.....Let us have your ideas and we could perhaps get 'serious'."

    I'm simply pointing out that its difficult to know who to believe here, and given this is a govt minister and the police, this really can't be a good thing. If you want to get "serious" perhaps you can tell us what do you think happened here and who we should believe?

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    Why has it taken 3 months to review these tapes and check the evidence?
    Are we meant to believe they never thought to check? Or did they need "enhancing" to clearly show the absence of the witness?

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    Why did the two officers originally insulted by Mitchell not refute what appears to be a fabricated witness? - the Met are being very enigmatic about all this.

    Difficult to take any of this at face value.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.


    At the very least one would have expected a member of cabinet [if not the PM] to review the tapes.

    It beggars belief that did not happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    No233 Pickled - well named,
    'to re-establish public trust'
    Go on have a go. Your penchant for scintillating political analysis and prognosis could be the spark for getting 'something going on'
    Let us have your ideas and we could perhaps get 'serious'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    Re Plebgate
    There are security cameras all around the area - surely this was easily checked, assuming the police don't control the cameras.

    A media witch hunt has resulted in the escalation of a fairly minor incident. Mitchell is not out of the woods but the Met have serious questions to answer re the apparent manipulation of events.

    Hillsborough, Tomlinson, Duggan[?]-where does it all end?

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    #236 AndyC555 if you read my post properly I said "irrelevant to most",nothing about my personal morality.
    And I think we are both aware that if Corporation Tax was zero throughout the known universe, employees would not see a penny piece more in their pay packets - it would still be the minimum rate possible.
    As for change - did you foresee a black US President?

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.


    Odd, I thought morality was a constant. Yours fluctuates depending on the economy? How easy for you to be able to change what you think is right and wrong so easily.

    And you think paying more tax than you legally should will help a business increase wages and create jobs?

    And, almost laughably, you think things will change if the government does. How touchingly naive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    There must be cameras all over Downing St & Whitehall. Obvious thing to do is to get all tapes viewed by some lip-reader experts. Their transcripts can be made public.

    If Mitchell lied, he's already lost his job. If policeman/men lied they can be sacked & Mitchell reinstated. Other officer can be slapped firmly on the wrist, told not to do it again & pay docked.

    Then we can move on ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    no comments on the pleb-gate scandel and the strongest union in the land.

    So the police and thier union are no longer impartial.

    A good reason NOT to have a national police force.

    Somebody leaked the "F4J kidnapped plot" in 2006 to the Sun , it was iether No10 (BLAIR) or the police , that had been made a monkey of by F4J or was it both ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    212 toryboy

    For a "serious political forum" there's not much going on here at the moment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Nicks Plebgate blogs - this reinforces the need to re-establish public trust and confidence in all institutions - be it the government, the political process, banks, press, legal process, police etc

    Who can we actually trust here ? Surely it would not have been difficult for any properly conducted investigation to establish what actually took place with a good degree of certainty?

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    #230 AndyC555, In times of plenty, the morality of tax avoidance is irrelevant to most - when jobs and wages are being cut for all BUT the avoiders, the morality of it takes on a very different complexion.
    With 2015 fast approaching, maybe you SHOULD consider the Caymans!

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    225- "Their days are numbered." It's a very large number though.

    227 - Thanks for the suggestions. Cayman does seem nice.

    226 - And always, no detail. "We must do something" you say but on the detail of what exactly that something is.....vagueness or silence.

    I do hope none of you are in a position of authority or responsibility. Quite frightening.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    No226 Exiled,

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    Big deal: Clegg has done some small things to temper the Tories; so what? What about big problems really threatening Britain. One is lack of policitical will to control huge investment banks too big to fail or jail, split retail from investment, prosecute banks for criminal activity. So, Clegg, how about an FTT to catch this criminals in their own criminal transactions?

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    @214 - So, where are you emigrating to ? Guernsey, Luxembourg or the Cayman Islands ?

    Apparently they're great places to avoid tax, and avoid responsibilities towards your fellow man / woman. You'll love it there !

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    #225 ToryBoy, I cerainly do have better things to do - but I believe that the more 'oxygen of publicity' the cesspools are exposed to, the more likely they are to be cleaned up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    No223 Exiled,
    Let the tax cheating bores wallow in the cesspools of their own making. I am sure you have better things to do than waste time on societies lowlife. Their days are numbered.


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