UK Politics

Nick Clegg: Westminster is 'clapped out'

Nick Clegg

Westminster is a "ludicrously clapped-out place", Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said.

The Liberal Democrat leader also said he would consider a quota system to get more woman elected for his party.

Taking questions from young people on BBC 3's Free Speech programme, Mr Clegg said he favoured a "one off" measure unless "real progress" was made.

The Liberal Democrats have faced criticism over a lack of women MPs in the party.

Mr Clegg said there was a "huge mountain to climb" to make politics representative of modern Britain.

Westminster on a Wednesday lunchtime - the busiest time of the Parliamentary week - resembled "Downton Abbey gone a bit loopy", Mr Clegg said, and he criticised the "testosterone-driven yelling across the floor of the House" in the Commons.


He said the manner in which MPs refer to each other in the Commons was "Alice in Wonderland stuff", saying "we do not speak the language of modern Britain".

Seven of the Lib Dems' 57 MPs are women - numerically and proportionally the fewest of the three major Westminster parties.

Just over a quarter of the party's candidates for the 2015 general election confirmed so far are women.

Mr Clegg said not all of his party supported a quota system.

But he added: "I've come to the view that if we don't make real progress in having more women elected as Liberal Democrat MPs at the next election, we might have to have think of a one-off way of cracking this problem and reserving some places for women in future."

During the hour-long question and answer session, Mr Clegg was criticised for ditching his party's pledge to scrap tuition fees, responding that he did not have the democratic mandate to carry out all of the Lib Dems' policies.

Two UKIP supporters also attacked him for not offering a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, with Mr Clegg saying the government had legislated so there would be a vote if more powers were transferred.

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