Call Clegg 19th June
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats
Nick Clegg takes your questions every Thursday from 9am on live LBC.
Watch the latest episode here.
This is LBC Call Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg takes your calls with Nick Ferrari at Breakfast. Call 0345 6060973 tweet at lbc973 text 84850. This is Call Clegg on LBC.
NC: Good morning. It's 9 o'clock, on Thursday 19 June. So let's get started. Do call on 0345 6060973, or email at email@example.com and of course you can watch of course as ever on the website, lbc.co.uk. So straight to the first caller Zach. Zach in Greenwich. Hello Zach.
Z: Alright Nick. How are you doing?
NC: I'm alright. How are you?
Z: I'm okay. My question is considering that the narrative coming from these Jihadists that they want a puritanical Islamic state and they want to live by the laws of the Sharia and what not. However warped they may or whatever the West may think of that. Is it... could you really believe David Cameron, in his narrative when he says that they pose the biggest threat to the UK on UK soil.
NC: I'm afraid, and yesterday we met in the National Security Council for the umpteenth time to look at that. And that's the sort of group that gets together in Whitehall to look at this. The Prime Minister's the chairman of that. I'm the vice chair. And I'm afraid it is just that it appears to be a fact that the flow of people leaving the UK going to Syria for instance, becoming ever more radicalised and extreme in their views but also of course becoming ever more expert in the use of violence. And then wanting to come back to inflict that violence on our streets is now one of the biggest security challenges we face. And that's why we've been pretty open as a government saying look this is a big issue. We're... it's right up there at the top of the security agenda of the things that we're looking at of government. And we're doing everything we can to either discourage people from going there in the first place or of course making sure we keep an eye on them if they come back with violent intentions. You know it's one of the, I'm afraid, it's one of the oldest things that violence begets violence. And that appears to be the case. And that's why this bloody barbaric brutal civil war in Syria is not only so tragic for the Syrian people it's dangerous for the rest of us as well.
NF: Zach? Zach go ahead.
Z: It seems like to me that it's a similar narrative to what Tony Blair said about Iraq when he invaded Iraq. It's and...
NC: Well no that...
Z: Sorry can I just...
NC: Sorry go on yeah sure.
Z: ...put in my point. Tony Blair he said last week about it wasn't, it's the lack of intervention in Syria that has caused this to happen. However the way I see is that if the UK was to intervene it...
Z: ...and yeah it's a good thing that they didn't intervene in Syria.
Z: Who would they be fighting? Would they be fighting
Z: The Assad regime or would they be fighting Isis?
Z: It makes no sense what he said and I just think the man's delusional.
NC: Well I mean what you think about Blair or what I think about Blair is slightly different to your first question. As you know Blair and Bush claimed at the time that we needed to invade Iraq in order to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction. It's a complete different... a completely different claim he made at the time. One which by the way unlike the Conservative and the Labour Party, my opposed. We said very clearly no that is not a good reason, you're not, you haven't proved your case. I also happen to remain personally of the view that it was not a legally sound decision either. You're asking me a slightly different question which is having people go from our country to a war zone, becoming ever more angry and extreme in their views and ever more practiced at using violence, is that a threat to us. Yes self evidently it is. Do I think the solution to that is that we should invade Iraq and of course not. You know we're not take, we're not going to invade Iraq, we're not going to take military action ourselves as a country in Iraq. But that's not to say it is not a threat. It's not to say that we shouldn't work with other countries in order to deal with that through counter terrorism measures, through intelligence. Obviously working with the Iraqi government where we can in order to make sure that there is a semblance of stability in that country. But, so I actually agree with you that kind of just going around and invading every country we think is a problem is not necessarily the solution. Though I have to say I think on Syria there was a case to deal with weapons of mass... chemical weapons, sorry. Which were... which was the debate at the time. But I think we can't put our head in the sand. This is a real problem. This is a real problem.
NF: Deputy Prime Minister what are we take from Tony Blair popping up over the last few days and saying that in fact that it was justified and that it was right that he did what he did in Iraq and it's important that we took the action we did?
NC: Well my view having, you know listening to him is that, there's one thing where I actually think he's got a point which is what Zach and I just discussed which is that the violence in Syria is acting as a sort of generator for violence elsewhere and it has a spill over effect on the country. We shouldn't pretend that that kind of bloody civil war just is sort of hermetically sealed within the borders of Syria. I mean that he's, I think he's on that self evidently right. Where I think he's just plain wrong is to somehow suggest, which he sought to, which I thought was a rather contorted argument that says: what is happening in Iraq now would have happened even if we hadn't invaded Iraq. And as if somehow the invasion of Iraq which I thought was the most disastrous foreign policy decision that this country's ever participated in since the Suez Crisis is somehow disconnected with what happens 11 years later.
NF: So the Arab Spring would not have sprung in Bagdad?
NC: I personally am not going to spend a huge amount of time trying to reinvent history and say if this hadn't happened would that have happened. And I don't, and I think it was slightly pointless thing for Tony Blair to have done. But o Syria I think he and most people and in a sense it's I believe the obvious which is that kind of bloody civil war, going on with such ferocity over such a prolonged period of time, of course it has an effect on people who move in and out of Syria but also on neighbouring countries.
NF: The Prime Minister's... lastly on this before we move on to the next.
NF: The Prime Minister, there's approximately 400...
NF: ...British born or national in a sense.
NC: That we know of.
NF: That we know of. Can we not strip them of their citizenship? Do we have to let them back in Mr Clegg?
NC: There are a number of things we can do and that we do do. And Theresa May and the Home Office do seek to block people from travelling or block people from returning. So there are a number of things we're doing. We're also...
NF: Can Britain actually take your citizenship away?
NC: There are, yeah there are measures that we can take. We're also strengthening the measures we can take by making it an offence to participate in the planning of any terrorist activity elsewhere outside the United Kingdom. So we're going to change the law. And we're going to do that in the coming weeks and months to fill what we think is a gap in the law there. So there are a lot of things we can do. But you know we don't, we live in a free society. People do move around. We don't have the thought police. You can't check what every person's intention is. This is a fluid situation and I think it's right that we say without causing undue alarm that we're nonetheless fairly straight with people that this is a serious issue which we're treating very seriously.
NC: And no one should be under illusions about what is at stake?
NF: And so some people could? You could foresee a situation in which a leading terrorist would actually be, have his British Citizenship taken away?
NC: As I can say we can take people's passports away if we think that their intention is to look...
NF: And you could see that?
NC: Well it happens. It happens already. So there are measures that can already be taken. The Home Office already does those things within the powers that we've got. As I say the one area where we think there is a case for additional legislative powers we're moving to take on those new powers.
NF: Well let's get other callers involved Deputy Prime Minister.
NC: David in Enfield. Hello David.
D: Good morning Nick.
D: Good morning Mr Clegg. My question regards China. Why is your government punishing Russia for annexing Ukraine but rewarding China for doing the same to Tibet. And I say this because in 1959 the Dali Lama with over 100,000 Buddhist supporters was forced in exile and under Chinese occupation has seen the systematic destruction of Tibet's culture and religion, over 6,000 monasteries have been closed. Monasteries have been closed and there's been widespread detention without trial, torture, killings and other abuse of human rights similar to China itself. And millions of Chinese have been forcibly resettled in Tibet. So the 6,000 million Tibetans are now a minority in their own country and treated as second class citizens.
NC: David look, I wrote... read not wrote. Read as a young boy that book by is it Heinrich Harrer, the Seven Years in Tibet?
NC: I've been like many, many people you know acutely aware of the unique religious and cultural identity of Tibet. I've met the Dalai Lama on a few occasions in his capacity as a religious leader. But as you know we recognise that Tibet is part of China but notwithstanding that recognition of course we believe, I passionately believe that we should be firm, polite but nonetheless forthright when we speak to the Chinese government in saying look the human rights abuses that are occurring in Tibet or indeed in other parts of China are simply not compatible with the status that China is seeking on the international state. It doesn't mean we can't trade with China. In my own view in the long run more trade with China actually will bring in its wake political and social reform as well. But you're quite right in saying that, yes Tibet is recognised by Great Britain as part of China but that does not mean we should shirk from saying look whether it's in Tibet or indeed any other part of China or in any other part of the world, if you believe that human rights are indivisible and universal, then you've got to have the courage to be able to say so even when it is uncomfortable or inconvenient to do so and that is what I do. That is what we do as a government, we seek to strike the right balance, do it, as I say, in a respectful but firm way, and that includes the human rights abuses that appear to be continuing in Tibet.
NF: A quick response from you David.
D: I'm not satisfied at all with that answer, because my question was, Russia invade Crimea and you punish them. China invades Tibet and you reward them.
NC: David, sorry, the difference is…I know you don't like it, but it's just a fact, the difference is Britain has long recognised Tibet as part of China, we don't recognise Crimea as part of Russia, it's just a difference. I know you don't like it, but that is…and, by the way, that is not a distinction drawn by this government that has been established some time ago. I know that's not going to satisfy you but that is the way that Great Britain has responded over many years. All I'm saying to you is that that doesn't mean, notwithstanding those differences, that we can't be firm and forthright about the human rights abuses that still continue on a significant scale in parts of China.
NF: Deputy Prime Minister, did you meet with Premier [inaudible 00:11:10]?
NF: You did not?
NF: No, because you said his regime is the antithesis of an open democratic society, so should he have been fated in the way…because, he actually met with the Queen, he's not the Head of State of course.
NC: Look, as I've just said in response to David, it's a difficult balance to strike. China is a massive economic super power, the economic transformation in China is something which is extraordinary, and by the way it's a good thing for the millions, and it is millions, and millions, and millions, of Chinese people who are now living in better economic circumstances than anyone dreamed possible, even a few years ago. The level of economic transformation in China is extraordinary, but that doesn't…and, that means that we should trade with China, develop close links with China…
NF: But, should we fate him in the way we did?
NC: Well, I think one can have…I think you can be hospitable to someone who leads obviously such a significant country, but also be clear that in terms of our values their different.
NF: Right. So, if I came round your house you'd put the flags out then, but you'd let me know…
NC: Nick Ferrari, if you came round to my house we would have red carpets, we would have trumpets sounding.
NC: Clarions from the rooftops in Putney celebrating your arrival.
NF: I look forward to that. We move on to other calls.
NC: A royal visit would be nothing compared to the welcome that the residents of Putney…anyway, shall we move on. Matt in Chelmsford. Hello Matt.
M: Good morning guys, how are you doing?
NC: Hello, Matt, yes fine.
NF: Good, thank you.
NC: Nick, there's been a really lively discussion this morning on LBC about poverty, and a definition of. I'd like to know what your definition of poverty is, and beyond that do you feel that the austerity measures that have been made in the UK have been balanced across the working class, middle class, and upper class?
NF: Don't go Matt, I just want to fill the Deputy Prime Minister in, he might not have had sight of the Daily Mirror. This is research led by Bristol University, your coalition government is under attack, Deputy Prime Minister, 1983 14% of Brits were living below the breadline. According to this research it's now 33%, they say 18m people can't afford adequate housing conditions, 5.5m adults go without essential clothing, that's about one in five. It has been challenged a lot I should say, but that's the top line.
NC: Yes, it has been challenged. I mean, Matt, look, firstly, as you know, you have this definition of relative poverty, the proportion of median income. The study, I haven't looked at it in detail, I will do, I think stretches back 30 years, so there are some big long term trends that need to be identified there. The problem with this debate, Matt, as I think you anticipated, is that you can, kind of, slice and dice these things in different ways. So, for instance, inequality is actually lower under this government than it was under the previous government. Relative child poverty has actually gone down rather than gone up, but that is not to, in any way, deny that there are people, particularly since the crash in 2008, who have really been up against it, who have had a lengthy squeeze on their disposable incomes. That has I think made people, understandably, very angry, because they feel that they're having a real squeeze on their disposable incomes at a time when the people who they feel, you know, caused the crash in the banks and elsewhere aren't shouldering the burden of all of this.
You asked me what are we doing in this government. Again if you look at the facts, rather than the allegations, the richest are paying more as a proportion of their income, in fact by almost any measure, the richest are paying more than they did under any year under the previous government. Because, we have actually raised taxes, we've also, as you know, lifted the tax burden on people on low and middle incomes. That's something I've been very closely associated with, by raising the point at which you start to pay income tax to £10,000 and beyond. That measure alone, for instance, Matt, will take just over 3m on low pay out of paying any income tax altogether for the first time. But, yes, there have been some gory decisions on welfare reform, we have to reform the welfare system. Why? Partly, because our economy has just got smaller, so we can't pretend that we can just carry on spending money as if nothing has happened. But secondly, we have to always work in my view to improve the incentives to work. Because, in the long run, getting people into work, and then making sure that if they're on low pay they don't pay excessively high levels of tax is one of the best ways of getting people out of poverty.
M: Yes, look, I mean, Nick, you said a lot of things I expect to see in the new manifesto, and I should point out that actually I voted for Lib Dem because of the many things that you've just, kind of, recited again there. I personally feel though as…I'm 27, I'm in a career which I'm happy with, and I'm earning over the national average wage, so I count myself as very lucky. But, I do feel, and I have seen, particularly people who I work with in the sector I work with…
NC: Can I ask where you work Matt?
M: I work in higher education, so I support university staff in teaching and learning. But, I have seen many, many people who have not seen wage increases, or anything like that, over and around inflation who are struggling. Who are struggling beyond what I would count is fair, who feel very disenfranchised with the government because they do feel that they are being squeezed more and more. Yet they're seeing people who are earning a lot more money, who aren't feeling the pinch, and maybe that's just a communication issue. And, going back to the question around poverty, I think that the fine line that has been drawn previously is now very clouded and very jaded. Because, people may not, as a pervious caller pointed out, be classified as in a poverty stricken environment because they have a mortgage, but they can't afford the basic things. And, I think that is deeply, deeply shocking, and something that Lib Dems, or in particular the coalition really do need to look at.
NC: But, Matt, you make a totally fair point, which is that as we repair and rescue and reform the shattered British economy from the state we found it in, you've got to try and do that as fairly as possible. I so happen to think, I mean, you've no doubt heard me say this before, I so happen to think that having Lib Dems in government means that we are doing this much more fairly than would happen in the Conservatives were doing this on their own.
I mean, I'll give you another very specific example, one of the first things we did as a government, and I insisted on this, was I said we have to address the frankly grotesque situation under the previous government, that you could be, I don't know, a hedge fund manager in the City of London paying less on your shares than your cleaner was on their wages, because of the difference between basically income tax and capital gains tax. So, one of the first things we did was we raised capital gains tax by 10%, that was highly controversial with a lot of very wealthy people, but it was right because we cannot have a tax system which was as lopsided as it was.
And, there are other things we've done, as you know, freezing fuel duty, stopping the fuel price duties going up in the way that was planned by the previous administration. Freezing council tax, these are all things which cost billions and billions and billions, so you have to find the money from elsewhere, which means you have to make difficult choices. But, they're all aimed, whether it's tax, whether it's making the tax system fairer, whether it's council tax, whether it's fuel duty, all aimed at the point you make, which is that there are lots of people on modest incomes who have faced an unprecedented squeeze, who feel understandably kind of angry.
But, it is, you're right, Matt, my job and others to explain with all the difficult and envisaged choices we have to make, why we're making time and time again the choices which are done in their name in order to try and help them through this difficult time.
NF: Alright thank you Matt. Can I feed in some email questions Mr Clegg?
NC: Rebecca in Newcastle: 'You were so opposed to the snoopers charter will you be having words with UK's counter terrorism Charles Farr, he says it's okay to track my tweets and my Facebook update?' says Rebecca.
NC: Right. Well, Rebecca, firstly makes a very important point about how you treat data, emails, communications, which is either beyond our shores, or actually takes place within our shores. And, one of the things I've come to the conclusion about a long time ago is this distinction between what is domestic and what is external is becoming increasingly quite fluid by definition. You and I could send an email to each other, but it could be routed via a server on the other side of the planet for instance. And, that's why I've asked this independent think tank, RUSI, to do a review of all of that to make sure that we're keeping up with these technological developments, and not resting on old fashioned distinctions that no longer really make sense. But, the only point I would make to Rebecca, which is incredibly important, incredibly important, there is no way in which any of the intelligence agencies can look at the content of any data stored, of any communication stored, which belongs to a British citizen here in Britain, without a warrant. So, what I think Charles Farr was referring to, what people have picked up on, is how data may or may not be stored, but it's really, really important that no one will be able to look at Rebecca's tweets, or any of her communication, the content of them, what she's actually said, given that she clearly lives here and is a British citizen, without a warrant. And, that's a very important distinction which I think was somewhat lost in some of the coverage.
NF: Alright thank you for that. Coverage of another story, this is my question of the day, if I may. A woman who was yesterday given an apology from MP Mike Hancock, one of your former MPs, in fact I don't know if he's still Lib Dem, for inappropriate sexual advances, has criticised Nick Clegg for ignoring her claims for more than four years. Her name is Annie, it's not her real name, she's told one newspaper, the Guardian, the Lib Dem leader turned a blind eye after she called your office. I'll quote 'Clegg has been negligent, he's put me through hell. I complained to Clegg's office in March 2011, it's taken four years to deal with Hancock,' he's the MP whose apologised, 'there's supposed to be a system in place in the party to deal with MPs, they don't seem to use it.' You're in the firing line, Mr Clegg.
NC: Yes. I think we've talked about this before. Unfortunately, and it is very, very unfortunately, it frankly angered me when I discovered this. The letters that that lady had sent back in 2011 simply didn't reach me, they simply didn't reach me. And, I'm afraid, I'm like any other person, I can only react to things that are put before me, and when in early 2013 specific allegations were brought to my attention, because the court proceedings were then underway, I acted very quickly. I got it looked into, and within a matter of weeks Mike Hancock was no longer an MP for the Liberal Democrats, and as you know, subsequently his membership of the Liberal Democrats was suspended. But, of course, the fact that somewhere, and this happens in all organisations, unfortunately from time to time, something was sent to me which didn't reach me, is of course something which she quite rightly feels frustrated about. But, I hope she also knows, because I've sought to explain this on many occasion, when specific allegations were brought to my attention, and court proceedings were proceeded with, early in 2013, I moved very quickly. And, as I say, Mike Hancock shortly thereafter was no longer an MP for the Liberal Democrats.
NF: But, she claims she called your office as well.
NC: Yes, I mean, you know, I'm afraid…two things happened, there was a letter which went to the party, to the party headquarters if you really must know the details. Because the Hampshire Police and the CPS and others have looked into this and said we're not proceeding with it the party, if you like, responded to that because they had no other information to go on. The moment I got something put in front of me which was specific, which was related to the court proceedings, early in 2013, I acted immediately. But, you're quite right, and she's quite right to say, back in 2011 something was sent to my office, it didn't reach me.
NF: And, a call was made.
NC: Well, I can't…I simply can't…
NF: Funny way to run a chip shop isn't it?
NC: Well, listen, I don't sit, I'm afraid, at a telephone bank, but I do accept that a letter was sent back in 2011 which did not reach me, that I do know.
NF: You don't know about a call?
NC: Well, I will look into the calls, but all I do know is that when I was given specific allegations, early in 2013, I responded as promptly as I think anyone could reasonably expect I should, and Mike Hancock was subsequently suspended as an MP for the party.
NF: And, that's the final point in this, what is the future for Mr Hancock?
NC: Oh, he should resign from the party of course he should, absolutely.
NF: He's not coming back?
NC: Oh no, no, no, no, I mean, look there are steps to go through, but look he has made an apology, which makes it absolutely clear that the way he behaved was totally and utterly out of order, as he himself has said, he crossed the line with a vulnerable constituent. He's caused huge, huge distress, frankly that has no role in the Liberal Democrats, the party I lead.
NF: I've never met him, what's he like as a person?
NC: I don't want to start talking about his character, but the fact that this apology has finally been made after all these years, I totally understand that the woman in question is saying, why on earth did this not happen earlier. But, as far as his future is concerned with the party, he has no future in the party he should resign.
NF: Should we move on, we've got more calls I think.
NC: Yes, Kay in Wood Green, Kay.
K: Hi, good morning.
K: Hi, this is a call regarding the longer days for school children. It's a two part question basically, how is it going to work, will the white working class children be segregated from their peers to carry this out? So, what will happen to other low achieving minorities who are also in the class? And, the second part, I'd like you to explain how the statistics seem to show that young black boys are attaining higher educationally than white working class boys, yet they remain the highest unemployed group in London, with over 50% unemployed.
NF: Kate, just to explain to some listeners. This came out in some research earlier this week, the percentage of students getting A* through C grades is now among white working class boys and girls, is the lowest, it's less than half, for instance, what Chinese girls attain. There was an initiative suggestion there should be extra hours put on the curriculum for all children, but specifically for white boys and girls, because they're the ones that are failing. And, children would actually in some instances stay at school for the best part of about ten or eleven hours. And, the other point, Kay, you're driving at, is that how come the black boys are doing much better in school, but then when it comes to employment they're still falling behind what would appear to be poorer educated white boys who actually get the jobs.
NC: Well, Kay, I mean, you are putting under the spotlight probably the biggest failing of the school system in this country for many, many years, which is what they call in the jargon the attainment gap. So, how is it that…I remember reading some research which made a huge impression on me some years ago, showing that bright, but poor kids, invariably, not always, but very often, get overtaken in the classroom by a less bright but more affluent child by about the age of seven, very early on, very, very early on, early years in primary school. And, then after that often the gap continues to widen, in other words, how you do in school is more closely associated with the income of your parents than your natural gifts.
NF: So, should you stay in school longer if you're financially poorer?
NC: Well, so what do you do about it? Now, what I think we've got to do about it, and that's exactly what we are doing about it. I first wrote about this, oh ten or eleven years ago, and finally we're actually delivering this in government, is you've got to put more money, more resources behind the education of the children who deserve and need most of the help. And, that's what we're doing through this thing, Kay, called the pupil premium. It's £2.5bn of extra money which goes to those schools which are catering to the kids from the poorest backgrounds, and that allows the teachers, and here's the important practical point, Kay, it allows the teachers then to decide how and when they give extra one to one tuition. Maybe even Saturday morning catch up classes, some of that pupil premium money for instance is being used, I think, to a very good effect, to make sure that kids as they make the leap from primary school to secondary school have got some support in the summer holiday to do so. Because, time and time again we find that it's the kids from the poorest families who find that leap from, the sort of, small sheltered primary school to the bigger, slightly rougher atmosphere of a secondary school hardest to take.
So, we're putting in the extra resources, so the extra hours, the extra tuition, the extra support can be delivered. And, I'll be fairly shortly awarding some prizes to the schools that have shown how best to use that extra money, that pupil premium money. It can have a brilliant effect at closing the attainment gap.
NF: Including longer hours?
NC: It can do, if what you think is right for a child is to spend a bit of extra time, either before school or after school, even maybe on a Saturday morning, particularly doing intensive work on numeracy and literacy, and the other basic skills that you need to get a good education, often in small groups, or one to one, then teachers should be allowed to do that. But, Kay, we're not going to turn this around overnight, but I think we're finally starting to put into place the measures needed to make sure that education does what it says on the tin, it releases the potential that is in every child, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.
NF: Kay, just to clarify, it would never ever be white only classes, it would be children who are not performing well, and it just so happens a lot happen to be white. But, if they were Chinese girls who weren't performing well then they would be included, just to nail that. Kay, thank you very much indeed. Go to another email, Dan in Dartford: 'Nick Clegg, why are you still opposing Nick Debois idea to give mandatory jail terms to anyone who has carried a knife twice?'
NC: Oh, sorry was it Dan?
NF: Yes, Dan in Dartford.
NC: Yes, Dan, I'm as intolerant and as tough as anybody else on knife crime, but I just want solutions that work, they don't just sound tough, catch headlines, but don't actually catch the criminals and turn their life around.
NF: Won't work about this, it seems to make sense to me, it does it on the tin, or whatever that expression is?
NC: Well, I don't think it does, what it will end up doing is you'll end up…
NF: You go to jail…
NC: Hang on, let me be clear, a young person, let's say, who is in a gang and is forced by a bigger, sort of, more senior member of the gang to carry a pen knife for them, basically if they're caught and charges are brought then there is no discretion other than to chuck them into prison for several months. The evidence is overwhelming, if you put young people into prison, regardless of any individual circumstances, any mitigating circumstances, into prison, guess what happens, you turn today's young offenders into tomorrow's hardened criminals. And, I'm proud of the fact that we've brought crime down to the lowest levels on record under this government, I'm proud of the fact that we're starting to bring reoffending down. I'm proud of the fact that we've got lower numbers of young people in prison. I think this measure, it sounds tough, you will tell me you think it's great, Nick Ferrari, I don't think it would work in practice.
NF: I'm trying to simply get…
NC: You asked for an answer.
NF: And, it was one of your shorter ones.
NF: How many children are appearing in court in England, Wales and Scotland, because they were carrying pen knives?
NC: I don't have the statistics.
NF: But, there are none are there Mr Clegg?
NC: No, wait a minute, there is a principle at stake. It says this is this measure, which is being supported by Labour and that Labour…
NF: Do you honestly think they would drag children into courts for carrying a pen knife?
NC: Nick, look at what the law will now say if this measure is finally passed in parliament. It says to judges, you have to imprison someone just for possessing a knife, having had a previous offence, regardless of any individual circumstances. And, all I'm saying is, if you really want to be tough on knife crime, do what works, don't just do the things that catch headlines. Listen, I lived through the Blair years where we saw literally week after week after week one tough sounding measure after the next, I think there were 25 criminal justice measures. And, actually why I'm so disappointed with the Conservatives is that when we came together in the coalition, I remember vividly we said, there's one thing we can really unite about is let's not resort to all these populous gimmicks on crime, which actually just lead to higher rates of repeat crime. And, we've stuck to that, that's how we've brought crime down, I think it's a pity that a few months before the General Election the Conservatives are once again resorting to the bad old Blairite habits of talking tough on crime, rather than really doing what works.
NF: Let's fit in one last question if we can, Deputy Prime Minister.
NC: Jim in Pimlico, hello Jim.
J: Good morning Nick. I have a brief request for you, I am requesting you to contact the Foreign Secretary and ask him to ask the Swedish police to come and question Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy, or via video link. This would save tax payers an awful lot of money, and free up the police to deal with more important matters.
NF: Today it's the second year since Mr Assange sought sanctuary at the embassy. The policing bill, Deputy Prime Minister, is at £6.5m.
NC: Yes, look I understand people's frustration about this mounting bill that's landing on our lap, when Julian Assange, if I understand it correctly, for perfectly obvious reasons should be facing justice in his own home country.
NF: He's frightened he will be adjusted or somehow swept off to the US.
NC: Well, look, Sweden is not a banana republic, I mean, Sweden, as far as I can make out, is a pretty civilised country, with a pretty sophisticated justice system, and I'm assuming they will give him a fair trial in line with Swedish law.
NF: What about the idea of a video link or something like that?
NC: I've no idea whether that would work, Jim, I'm not a Swedish prosecutor. But, I do accept that the best thing would be for Julian Assange to basically put himself into the hands of the Swedish judicial system, not into the hands, if you like, of the British police, the bill of which is footed by the British taxpayer.
NF: We end on a lighter note, I don't know what the Spanish for anger or bad temper is but…
NC: Oh don't, don't. There's pictures on the television of the new king.
NF: Indeed, well, however we say congratulations, we say that of course in Spanish.
NC: [Inaudible 00:33:11].
NF: How was the Clegg household last night?
NC: A big glum.
NF: Dear oh dear.
NC: But, as my ten year old…this shows the great maturity of my children, he was rather sort of quiet last night, but then this morning he said very philosophically, I suppose that's what makes the World Cup so interesting. Isn't he wise?
NF: He's a politician.
NC: Well ahead of his years.
NF: And, just looking ahead to tonight, you got the score right last week you may recall when I asked you.
NC: I predict a 2:1 victory for England, how about that.
NF: So, can we now get mystic Clegg on what we will see tonight. Mystic Clegg that's quite clever.
NC: Okay, 1:0 to England, I think it's going to be really tightly fought, but I think we're going to pip them at the post.
NF: And, the whole house now switches to England of course.
NC: Yes, of course.
NF: Full squad.
NC: As if there was any doubt.
NF: Nick Clegg thank you for being here on Call Clegg, on LBC where news is next.