Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nick Clegg gets sassy at DPMQs

Yesterday saw the monthly "Pick on Nick Clegg" day at Westminster. Deputy Prime Minister's Questions is not known for its searching scrutiny of Government. Instead, Labour and Tories line up to take cheap shots at Nick. The experience he gains there is probably why he's so good at town hall meetings and question and answer sessions at Conference.

DPMQs usually passes by unnoticed by the press. Yesterday, however, was different. Nick had a "Stalin to Mr Bean" moment when responding to a question about Grant Shapps and whether the Liberal Democrats were going to do a deal over party funding. Readers will no doubt be aware of the revelations that the Tory chairman wrote some business advice guides under the name of Michael Green. Well, this is how Nick answered the question:
Yes, I have also read press reports that the chairman of the Conservative party wishes to strike a deal with us on boundaries in return for a party funding deal. I suppose that is finally a “get rich quick” scheme which he is prepared to put his name to.
And there was more to come. In a "trash two Tries for the price of one" answer, he had a quick swipe at Euro-sceptic Tory arch-enemy Peter Bone as well:
Let me put it this way: a change of mind on my part on the issue as is likely as the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) going to Norway to accept the Nobel prize on behalf of the European Union. It is not going to happen.
Several publications seem to have woken up to the fact that Nick Clegg is quite good at this sort of thing. The Guardian's Simon Hoggart talked of him smashing Labour MPs who tried to rile him in the kisser. Kick-ass Clegg, said Donald McIntyre in the Independent. Over at the Huffington Post, Ned Simons said it seemed that Nick was having fun.

Long may this continue! The thing is, I don't think yesterday was so different from other DPMQs. Nick usually manages to swat away the irritating bile that's flung at him. It just goes to show how a well-timed one-liner can make all the difference to how an event is reported.

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