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Call Clegg 3rd July

July 3, 2014 12:21 PM
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: It's 9 o'clock, on Thursday July. That means it's time for Call Clegg with me Nick Clegg her on LBC. So do get in touch in the next half an hour and I'll try and answer your questions. Call on 0345 6060973, email at nickclegg@lbc.co.uk and of course you can watch on the website, lbc.co.uk. So let's go straight to the first caller Johnny in Dulwich. Hello Johnny.

J: Good morning Nick.

NC: Hello.

J: I'm just wondering what efforts you and the coalition are making to find this dossier of Leon Brittan?

NF: This is the dossier you're referring to, just so that I get it absolutely right Johnny this is the...

J: The missing dossier.

NF: Yeah, given to the Home Secretary, when he was the Home Secretary, Leon Brittan in 1983 by the then MP Geoffrey Dickens who sadly is no longer with us allegedly talking about a network of paedophiles within Whitehall. Now supposedly this has quotes gone missing, stay on the line Johnny in Dulwich?

NC: So Johnny I'm afraid I can only... I can't... I wasn't in the Home Office in the mid 1980s so I can't say exactly what happened then but all I can obviously tell you is what both the Home Office and Leon Brittan have said which is that they received this documentation, that it was then, or the relevant parts of it were then passed on to the prosecuting authorities and the police. We'd need to ask the police and the prosecuting authorities what they then did. I haven't heard from them yet and then as you know with hindsight the Home Office did an independent review last year on whether they've still got this paperwork or not which they don't. What they did have and what they've published was a letter from Leon Brittan at the time or I think a while later explaining that the... that the paperwork had been looked and the relevant parts had been sent to the prosecuting authorities and the police. So that's... that's clearly what happened and it's clearly the fact that the Home Office say that they don't have the rest of the documentation in their possession anymore today.

NF: Johnny back to you.

J: I mean are you interested in the content, what names were on the list. It just sounds like that... there's not a waffle and not really any effort to what, finding out where it is and what was on it. Presumably other people saw this document at the time. Like who did he hand it to?

NC: Well it's not for me or indeed for you Johnny to do the job of the police for them. The police have got to look into these very, very serious allegations of stomach churning offenses if they turn out to be true of people and particularly in power in an organised fashion. This is what the allegation is, abusing some of the most vulnerable children in society's care. Now the police are already looking into these allegations as they are alleged to have occurred in children's homes in the North West, in South West London and so on. So my appeal to everybody or anybody who might have any information about this any evidence, any insight into this is get in touch with the police. Because at the end of the day the only way you can really lift the lid on the past, understand what did and didn't happen, get to the bottom of these allegations and most importantly of all, delivery justice to the victims who if these allegations turn out to be true will have been suffering in silence. I mean unimaginable suffering for years and years, is to let the police get on with these enquiries and give them all they need to do that. And beyond that I'm not sure Johnny what, I don't what you or I could do to, unless you've got some particular information to help the police get their job done.

NF: And let's... Johnny stay on the line. But is Johnny you're... what sort of appetite is there, lastly, is that what you're get at Johnny? What sort of appetite is there with...

J: It does seem like a lot of feet dragging. It's like I've actually, I'm really sorry I'm just in the middle of something.

NF: Okay alright no. You get going Johnny. Lastly then, let me just clarify, there is an appetite to tidy this up is there Deputy Prime Minister?

NC: Yeah, I mean well, certainly any person I would have thought, any normal person when hearing about the seriousness of these [unclear 00:03:58]...

NF: It is strange it got lost or shredded or...

NC: Yeah. Well if I understand it correctly the bits of the documentation that were handed to the Home Office at the time.

NF: He then gives it to his private secretary. Leon Brittan gives it to his private secretary?

NC: Yeah my understanding but all I frankly can repeat is what...

NF: Yeah you've obviously heard yeah.

NC: ...people have said. I can't give you much more insight into what in the mid 1980s in the Home Office but the crucial thing is that the parts of that document which needed further looking at were handed to the police and the prosecuting authorities. As I said I don't know what they did with it then.

NF: Okay.

NC: All I do know today is and it will every day that passes will feel like a day too long...

NF: Of course.

NC: ...for justice to be delivered to the victims who it is alleged suffered terribly but all I care about now is that we let the police do the job that only the police can do which is to get to the bottom of what are very, very serious alleged crimes.

NF: We move on.

NC: Nigel in Chadwell Heath. Hello Nigel.

N: Hello Nick. I'd like to ask you, well two questions really the first is about, well, they're both about the BBC. What's your view about the BBC refusing to investigate what took place when Rolf Harris was on their premises? Do you think they should be able simply to refuse to investigate?

NF: Has there actually been a refusal Nigel or is it? I know there's been a lot...

N: I understand they have.

NF: ...commentary that... Well okay.

N: I was told there has. Whether, I can't say 100 per cent but I understand there has been a refusal.

NF: Well certainly there's been suggestions that the BBC should launch an enquiry and the BBC should have done more. I think to characterise it as a steadfast refusal we're perhaps slightly veering over the line but let's get Mr Clegg's view. Stay on the line Stuart.

NC: And sorry there was a second one Nigel that you said you wanted to...

NF: Nigel, sorry yes Nigel.

N: Well Okay I have wider concerns about the BBC. We all have to pay our licences, it's mandatory, they are a publicly funded body. And yet they appear to send dozens of journalists to things. They have a news network which is different for each radio station. Why is that necessary? Isn't it time we had an independent investigation into how savings can be made at the BBC and then subsequently savings made to the hard pressed licence payer?

NC: Nigel I think on the wider point, the latter point you make. I'm a big fan of the BBC. It's unique in the world. It's recognised across the world as an extraordinary broadcasting organisation and in many ways I think we should be really proud as a country that we have the BBC. No one else does and I think the BBC do a very, very world recognised accomplished job at not only providing news and information but also putting on some of the best dramas that television can have, providing local radio services to people that really rely on their local radio, the nature of the programmes and so on. Now does that mean that I think the BBC as an organisation is perfectly flung, is there too much organisation, too much bureaucracy and so on? Well clearly you constantly want for something as big as that to make sure two things. Firstly that because it's big it doesn't, it doesn't squash other good competitors and dare I say it you've got LBC here, giving the BBC a good run for its...

NF: Do what we can.

NC: A good run for its money. And that's a good thing. You want competition you don't' want to have a big organisation like that basically flattening all other competing voices. I like pluralism, I like having lots and lots of different people competing in the media [unclear 00:07:22]...

NF: But we come to Rolf Harris now.

NC: Well on the Rolf Harris thing slightly like Nick Ferrari I don't think it was an absolute blunt outright refusal so without knowing precisely what the BBC [unclear 00:07:32]...

NF: I've got a statement here from the BBC

NC: Oh right.

NF: And it goes as follows, so you'll want to hear this as well Nigel. A BBC spokesman says: "The convictions do not relate to the BBC. We already have the Dame Janet Smith Review which is making an impartial and independent investigation into the past culture and practise of the BBC during the period Saville worked for the corporation. Related to that we have commissioned an independent assessment of our current child protection and whistle blowing policies that will report later in the year." So there is no fresh Harris enquiry so we come back to Nigel's point should there be?

NC: Well as I say if there is a specific allegation about Rolf Harris and the BBC then I'm sure the BBC and indeed if it's of a criminal nature the police will want to look into it. So my understanding from the statement you just read out to me is that BBC have got ongoing enquiries into...

NF: A heck of a time isn't it?

NC: Oh looking back on it?

NF: Yeah.

NC: I mean it's just the mind just boggles.

NF: Unbelievable [unclear 00:08:23]...

NC: Yeah I know, I'm just like any other person I just kind of think what was going on in the celebrity culture at that time that the people, just because they were so well known and household names appeared to think that they could just act with sort of grotesque carelessness towards other people and got away it. And in fact they did get away with it for a long time. But Nigel my answer if there's something specific that the BBC needs to look into related to Rolf Harris of course they should. But if they're saying there isn't a specific allegation in addition to the enquiries they're already doing then I guess it's fair to wait. But you're wider point Nigel is a good one. Do I think the BBC should look after our money, your money, the public's money through the licence fee, well of course it should and we should constantly... That's what politicians do by the way of all parties is constantly say to the BBC, look you're in a very unusual role because everybody is basically chipping in to help fund you so you have a unique duty to the public to make sure that money is properly looked after. And I am as appalled as anybody else when over the last few years we've seen these sky high salaries going to celebrity wage packets at the BBC and sometimes you hear about far too much administrative overlap and waste and so on. Of course I think, I think people in the BBC as far as I can make out also believe that it... Like, I don't know I think I'm a politician, I think Westminster should be reformed from top to toe. Of course you need to make sure that money is well spent but I don't think that should be done in way which actually threatens the basic virtues of the BBC which are very strong.

NF: We move on to another call. Nigel [unclear 00:09:57]...

NC: Stuart in Hendon, hello Stuart.

S: Oh good morning.

NC: Morning.

S: I just like to speak regarding Prince Charles' right to speak out about grammar schools, I think he's got every right, we live in a free society. I don't want a future king that's just a dummy that stands there waving to people.

NC: Yes.

S: I know you MPs want to hush everybody up, I know you want to censor the press…

NC: Well, hang on Stuart, I'm…

NF: Stay on the line, Stuart, we all know he's trying to hush, we know that's true.

NC: I'm going to hopefully disappoint you, I actually basically agree with you, you know, this idea that just because you're a member of the Royal Family you don't have an opinions, just seems to me silly. Because, it kind of assumes also, which is not the way it works, nor should it work, the idea that just because a member of the Royal Family might have an opinion expressed to a politician, therefore the politician will automatically do what is said. Well, that's not the case either, politicians have to…

NF: Have members of the Royal Family expressed views on matters to you, Deputy Prime Minister?

NC: Look, I'm simply not going to go into conversations. But, have I ever felt under in any way under any undue pressure about a particular opinion or cause, absolutely not at all.

NF: But, when you sit with the Queen, when you deign to turn up, because I know often you're too busy.

NC: Oh stop it that is not true.

NF: But, when you do actually keep an appointment in your diary, and she expresses…

NC: That was sly, snide…

NF: …and she expresses an opinion, you come away thinking that's interesting, you don't come away thinking, oh my goodness, I better go and make that happen immediately?

NC: I'm simply not going to comment on individual conversations, but what I'm saying, where I totally agree with Stuart is this idea that if you're a member of the Royal Family you are void of opinions or strong views, actually I don't that, I think it's a good thing if everybody in society, however elevated…

NF: Is Prince Charles right on grammar schools though?

NC: Well, I so happen to not agree with that, and I don't actually know what his views on grammar schools are, they've never been put to me, but what I'm…

NF: It is reported he lobbied, or tried to persuade Tony Blair's government to expand grammar schools, so says former Education Secretary, David Blunkett.

NC: But, setting that aside for a minute, I actually like the fact that you have, you know, people like Prince Charles, who care about the country, and care…

NF: The monarchy constitution meant that they shouldn't really get involved.

NC: What the constitution of the monarchy does not meant that you shouldn't care about your country, that is absurd.

NF: Don't get involved, not care, care and involved are not the same.

NC: No, the constitution of the monarch means exactly, in a sense, what it says on the tin, that the limits of the decision making, executive power of the royalty are clearly confined. But, that doesn't mean you can't express opinions, that's the bit that I don't get. And, I certainly think, as far as politicians are concerned, politicians should do what politicians are there to do, which is to represent the public, act in the national interest, and act accountably. Listen to views from a whole range of people, and I personally, that's why I do this show, I value Stuart's opinion, Stuart you just rung up, as much as anybody else's, and that's what a democracy is about.

NF: And, have you been in receipt of letters or notes from Prince Charles?

NC: No.

NF: You've never received…or, from Her Majesty?

NC: No.

NF: Or any other member of the Royal Family?

NC: I'm not going to provide a running commentary, but I'm certainly going to dispel this mischievous myth that you keep putting about.

NF: What's that one?

NC: That I…anyway move on.

NF: That you were too busy to attend [inaudible 00:13:00].

NC: That is not the case.

NF: Now, on a serious note, thank you Stuart for your call, you mentioned the national interest in that aspect, we've got concerns over national interests at the airports, Deputy Prime Minister, there's a new terror alert. What are you able to tell us about that?

NC: Well, I think the first thing is that this government, any government around the world, our first duty is to keep people safe. And, what you've got to remember is that there are individuals and groups, terrorist groups, violent extremist groups, around the world, who want to do us harm. They are constantly thinking, how can we do damage, how can we inflict violence, how can we maim and kill people in the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere, we know that. The thing is they're constantly trying to think of new ways to do that, so we need to constantly think of new ways to keep ourselves safe. And, that in a nutshell is what this is about, is that, you know, a decision has been arrived at that we need to adjust, tighten up the checks at airports. This involves a whole range of different countries, in order to make sure that our defences keep up, if you like, with the changing methods that these groups are exploring.

NF: And, in practical terms, what does it mean for passengers, people arriving at airports later today, or through the week?

NC: Well, I don't think I should start…

NF: Presumably longer times, more checks?

NC: We don't think the majority of travellers going on holiday, going elsewhere for business, are going to be unduly disrupted.

NF: So, it's just the US we're looking at?

NC: Well, certainly a lot of the original announcements, as you know, came from the US, and this involves a whole range of countries, we're not just alone in this. And, it will involve extra checks of various descriptions. The checks that we have in terms of passengers who go on airplanes, how they're scrutinised, how they're checked, is in the jargon multi layered, and so there's going to be another layer for some travellers on some flights. That's, kind of, what it is in a nutshell. I don't think people should be unduly panicked, or concerned, but this is the world we now live in, this won't be the last time that there are further adjustments made, because we're having to constantly evolve our own defences in view of the evolving way in which people want to attack us.

NF: And, lastly, this is in place for days, weeks, months, forever, how long?

NC: Oh I don't think we should expect this to be just a one off temporary thing, we have to make sure that the checks are there to meet the nature of the new kinds of threats.

NF: So, forever?

NC: Well, whether it's forever, I can't make any predictions forever. But, I don't want people think that this is just a, sort of, blip for a week, this is part of an evolving and constant review about whether the checks we have in our airports, and indeed in other places of entry and exit from countries, keeps up with what we know, from intelligence and other sources, what we know about the nature of the threats that we face.

NF: We move onto other calls.

NC: Stephen in Croydon, hello Stephen.

S: Oh hi, I've got a question for you, an interesting one. If the world was city, Israel finds itself in one of the toughest parts of town, surrounded by countries with little value for life. If you were the Prime Minister of England, and there was a radicalised terrorist organisation that was now running Scotland or Wales, and they were firing up to 50 rockets every month into your country, would you accept the situation, or feel you had a responsibility to protect the citizens of your country?

NC: Of course you've got a responsibility to protect the citizens of your country. And, equally, you have an absolute need, a long term strategic need, to secure the safety of your fellow citizens, by seeking to entrench peace. At the end of the day, we know, we all know that violence begets violence, and that the greatest security of all that can be provided to our fellow citizens, is to seek for people to live peacefully in co-existence. But, of course, that means that people who seek to spread terror need to be confronted and combated, and every state has a right to protect its citizens from that. But, equally, I think it means, certainly in the case of the Middle East, that in the long run, in the long run, however difficult it is, and boy is it difficult, there is no surrogate, there's no alternative to the safety that peace brings.

NF: Stephen.

S: Thank you.

NF: Okay, thank you, we move on. A related email, if I can bring an email into the conversation, Deputy Prime Minister, this comes from Rebecca in Hastings: 'Is the spreading caliphate across Iraq and Syria the worst manifestation of Tony Blair's disastrous term in office?'

NC: While I don't agree with what Tony Blair appeared to be saying some weeks ago, that, where I think he appeared to suggest that the present situation in Iraq, somehow had little to do with what happened 11 years ago. I clearly disagree with that, you can't suddenly divorce the past from the present, or indeed the present from the future, of course these things are connected. I equally think it's probably unfair to suggest that everything that's happening in Syria, or the rise of violent extremism in other parts of the world, is all because of Iraq. I so happen, as you know, my Party was alone in the face of the push from both the Conservative and Labour Parties to go to war in Iraq, to say that this is not something we supported, and we were alone in opposing it. And, I still do oppose it, I still regard it as one of the most disastrous decisions taken in British foreign policy since the Suez crisis. But, I think to try and, if you like, be fair and objective about this, the…

NF: I've warned you against that, you've got to shed this.

NC: I've got to shed this, right. But, what's going on in Syria quite clearly has other, kind of, complex reasons, but what I think you're now seeing, this establishment of this self-declared caliphate, across the border of Syria and Iraq, is now the latest turn of the wheel in a really ugly, medieval ideology, that's basically…

NF: But, they want to get to the borders of Russia if they have their way, how on earth do we combat this?

NF: Well, we need to be really, really clear that they are basing their whole world view on a, kind of, medieval, violent, revolting ideology that, by the way, is a total and utter aberration and distortion of actually what many, many, the vast, vast, vast, vast majority of the millions of Muslims around the world believe in. It is a grotesque distortion of that faith, and so I think it is incredibly important that we work with countries across the world, we can't sort this out on our own. But, particularly with countries in the region itself, to say, look in the long run the antidote to all of this is to defeat this distorted, vile ideology that seeks to appropriate a religion in pursuit of these very, very violent ends. And, that's why it is very important that, for instance, the government in Iraq, Maliki's government, reaches out, and doesn't, doesn't, perpetuate, kind of, sectarian politics in Baghdad. Where, you know, Sunnis are up against Shias, and the Kurds have been alienated. It's really important that, if you want a political process to work, that it is one that seeks to embrace the different denominations and communities in that country.

NF: We move to other callers.

NC: Cy in Canary Wharf, hello Cy.

S: Hello, good morning, good morning.

NC: It is Cy is it?

C: Yes, it is. Good morning, Nick.

NC: Hi.

C: Referring then to why I actually called, just on what you were just saying. For known Britain's who have travelled to these parts of the world were Isis is active, why haven't their passports been cancelled?

NC: Well, a fair number of them have, to be honest, under something which is called the, sort of…the Home Secretary has a Royal Prerogative Power, it's called in the jargon, to do just that. And, the Home Office, the Police, the Security Services, I think do an outstanding job at seeking to keep us safe from what is now emerging as probably the most serious threat we face. Which is, as you say, folk going off to fight in Syria, or indeed in Iraq, and coming back even angrier, even more blood thirsty, even more determined to inflict damage on their fellow citizens, and I think we need to give them…

NF: It's a very bad line, Cy, can I move you to your other question, which is I think a different matter, and as briefly as you can, because it's not a great call quality.

C: It's to do with Lord Rennard, Susan Gaszczak has written to you and said she's leaving the Party. What are you going to do about the Lord Rennard situation?

NC: I'm very sorry to see Susan Gaszczak leave, because I've known her for years and she's a good person, and she's worked incredibly hard for the Liberal Democrats over many years.

NF: Five members of this family tearing up their membership cards, it's reported today, Deputy Prime Minister.

NC: No, I wish they didn't. But, let me explain the reason that Susan has set out that she is now quitting the Party. It's because she made a suggestion, or made an appeal, that the report that looked into the whole Rennard business, a report commissioned by the Party, conducted independently by a QC, Alistair Webster QC, she wanted that report, in a sense, to be set aside, discarded, and for the whole process to start again. And, the Liberal Democrats, like any other organisation, have due process, a committee looked at this, it's not my individual capricious decision this, a committee looked at this appeal from Susan and others, saying look can we start the whole process all over again and put Alistair Webster's report aside. And they said, no, that the reasons why Alistair Webster QC was commissioned to do this independent, in the way that he was, still stands. So, you know, I regret that she's left on those grounds, but you're not going to start unpicking a decision arrived at by the relevant committee, which seeks to uphold the fact that this report, by Alistair Webster QC, was commissioned in the right way, and for the right reasons.

NF: What is Lord Rennard's future with the Liberal Democrats, Deputy Prime Minister?

NC: Well, there's a whole separate process now where other members of the Liberal Democrats have claimed that he brought the Party into disrepute, and those things are being looked at. So, there is a process going on there, which I obviously can't second guess. He's not going to play any role in, for instance, the Liberal Democrat Election Campaign.

NF: He won't be your strategist as it's reported?

NC: No, absolutely not.

NF: Do you want him in the Party?

NC: I want due process to be done, I want everyone to be treated fairly, and a decision to be arrived at. But, I'm absolutely clear that…

NF: Is the Party missing his skills?

NC: Look, I think that Alistair Webster set out, in very clear terms, that he had caused deep offence, it may have been inadvertent or otherwise, but he caused deep offence to a number of women. So much so that Alistair Webster said that he should apologise. He said, by the way, Alistair Webster, said that Susan Gaszcsak, what she said was credible, so there was no question of not believing what she said, far from it. Which is important, by the way, because whilst Susan doesn't in a sense like the Alistair Webster report, and wanted it discarded, actually the report made it very, very clear that Alistair Webster thought that what she said was credible. And, I'm absolutely not going to have Chris Rennard advising me in any shape or form on the General Election next year.

NF: We move onto other calls, Deputy Prime Minister.

NC: Jess in Wendover, hello Jess.

J: Hello.

NC: Hello, how old are you?

J: I'm 12.

NC: Oh brilliant.

NF: And, just to give some background, I think you're part of the first news project, aren't you, along with Sky News, and you've been putting some questions…lovely to have you on the programme, did I see you on TV earlier today, were you one of the people on Sky News?

J: Yes, I was.

NF: Oh well done, now you've put questions to…

NC: Were you grilling George Osborne?

J: Yes, I was.

NC: Well done you. What did you ask him then, what was the toughest…

J: Oh, I asked him, do you think that the MPs set a good example in the House of Commons by calling and shouting at each other.

NC: And, I hope he said, no they don't. What did he say?

J: He said, well they're very passionate about their jobs, so he thinks it's okay.

NC: Oh, okay.

NF: Do you think it's okay, Deputy Prime Minister?

NC: I'm afraid, Jess…is that what you wanted to ask me, by the way?

J: Yes.

NC: No, look, if you're talking about Prime Minister's questions, I think Prime Minister's questions, I just personally think it's becoming a total farce, I really do, and I just think it's…I think it embarrasses Westminster, it's sort of testosterone chest beating people, almost invariably men, yelling at each other. I think any normal person doesn't watch it, doesn't want to watch it, and if they did they'd be absolutely appalled that that's the way that the political class behaves. And, I just wish that we could just grab Westminster by the scruff of the neck and modernise it. I mean, do you know what, Jess, I'm not even allowed to, when I stand in the House of Commons, I'm not even allowed to address people by their name, you have to come up with some unbelievably pompous formula, Right Honourable…it goes on and on and on, Honourable Member for this, Learned Member for that. I just think the whole thing is just so stuck in the 19th century and it's so stuck in this, kind of, adversarial, yah boo culture, that my…I mean, I've tried, Jess, to change Westminster, I can't pretend I've been wholly successful, I couldn't even persuade people in Westminster to let you, when you can vote and others, to vote who the law makers are in the House or Lords. But, it's going to have to change at some point, we cannot carry on with a Westminster establishment, and a way of doing things in Westminster, which is totally out of keeping with modern Britain.

NF: Jess, when you see all these, as the Deputy Prime Minister rightly says, mostly men, shouting at each other, and you're obviously a young woman, and you're interested in politics, how do you react, Jess?

J: Well, it's quite like, I don't know, you can't really react that much to it, but I suppose it's not a very good example to children.

NF: And, just lastly…

NC: You're absolutely right, Jess, you're not at school, by the way?

J: No, I'm at Sky Studios.

NC: Oh you're at Sky Studio, right okay. I was going to say, if you were at school I bet your teacher wouldn't let you behave at all like MPs behave at Prime Minister's questions.

NF: Well done, Jess, are you going to be a politician, just before I let you go?

J: I don't know.

NC: Have you enjoyed it?

J: Yes, it's been great.

NF: And, if you were a politician, which Party might you want to lead, Jess?

J: I don't know.

NF: No, no, right, well you sound like a Lib Dem to me.

NC: Ah.

NF: Jess, look after yourself, thank your mum and dad for letting you take part. Deputy Prime Minister, another call.

NC: Ron in Haslemere, hello Ron.

R: Oh good morning, Mr Clegg, I gave you a hard time last time, I'm not going to do that today, just a simple question.

NC: Thanks Ron.

R: I hear this morning that you're talking about giving money to carers.

NC: Yes.

R: This follows on from your pledge to give free school meals. My opinion is that Britain is in terminal decline, and I believe it is because of our politicians. How are we going to stop politicians buying votes, how can we get them to concentrate on the fundamentals, like the ageing wealth, and acting responsibly?

NC: Well, Ron, I totally disagree with you when you seem to suggest that helping out the millions of carers in this country, who are like an unsung, unrecognised army of heroes and heroines…

R: That's not what I said, sir.

NC: What?

R: That's not what I said, sir. I believe we should help carers, we have to generate the wealth in order to help carers, we can't say to carers or voters, this is what I will give you, please vote for me, we've got to somehow stop that.

NC: Hang on, sorry, that's not what I'm saying. You speak to any carer, and one in eight adults in this country now, at some point, care for others, care for their loved ones, care for people. A lot of those carers are under huge financial pressure. Yes they have carer's allowance, or the carer's premium, particularly if they're pensioners, yes we've given them, and I'm actually very proud, this is what Liberal Democrats have done in this government, more money to councils to give them respite care. Yes, we've given them flexible…the right to ask their employers if they work the flexibility so that they can meet their caring requirements. But, I think, given that it's estimated, by the way, that carers save our economy close to £119bn a year, it is right that we give carers a little bit of extra help. I'm not going to pretend that £250 a year is going to change everything, but it can help a carer to take some time off themselves, I don't know, pay someone to come in and clean the house more regularly, whatever they decide. I think it starts to address a fundamental injustice, in that we don't give enough esteem and respect, and support to carers.

Now, you're saying that you can't do that and at the same time fix the fundamentals, I completely disagree with you. If there's one thing this government has done, and I like to think whoever you vote for, whatever your political views are, no one can say that this government, and I would say especially the Liberal Democrats, have taken the difficult, downright, unpopular decisions to get the fundamentals right. And, by the way, my Party has done that at great short term political cost, if we really did what you suggest and just go around saying popular things, we wouldn't have done all the unpopular things to start balancing the books, fixing the banks, and now presiding over higher rates of growth than anywhere else in the developed world. So, if I sound passionate about this, it's because I'm really passionate about helping carers, but I really, really reject this lazy allegation that politicians are somehow incapable of putting the interests of the country before their own interests, that is exactly, exactly what we've done over the last four years, and I'm immensely proud of it.

NF: And, a quick response, you'll have to be fairly quick, Ron.

R: I'm sorry, I totally disagree with you there. If you want to say these things, please don't say them as we're running up to an election, please don't say, vote for me because I will give you this. Don't actually say these things, do these things.

NF: Alright, okay, I think we must end it there, we've heard both sides. A couple of quick questions, one last email from here. Sarah in Hitchin: 'Is it true, after the local election defeat, you considered stepping down as leader of the Lib Dems but you phoned other Lib Dems for advice?' This is the story…I don't know what you're laughing at, this is the story from the Daily Express, the Deputy Prime Minister vowed to stay on as Party leader, the morning after it was revealed the Lib Dems had lost all but one of their 12 MEPs. But, less than 48 hours before that you were calling senior Party officials for advice on whether to stay, who did you call?

NC: It's an absurd question. Did I speak to Liberal Democrats after a very bad set of election results? Of course I did, constantly, I mean, it's my job as a leader to speak to hundreds…

NF: Did you say, shall I carry on?

NC: No, as I think I've said on your show before, if I felt that the predicament…

NF: You didn't consider quitting then?

NC: Can I just…if I felt that the predicament that the Liberal Democrats are in could be solved by talking about ourselves, having a leadership change in personnel, all the rest of it, and then suddenly, magically, all would be well and we'd be up 25% in the polls, I probably would be the first person to advocate it. But, for the reasons that actually I slightly hinted at to Ron earlier, I think if you've done big brave things as a Party, even if it costs you short term popularity, the worst thing to do is to suddenly buckle at the last minute. We've got a really good story to tell, and despite Ron somehow not liking the idea that politicians might actually tell the electorate about something they want to do in the run up to an election, we've got a great story to tell. We stepped up to the plate, you wouldn't have this economic recovery now without the Liberal Democrats, and you wouldn't have the kind of fairness that we're trying to instil in things without us either. And, that's something that I'm going to carry on doing.

NF: Lastly, Pierre in Kent: 'Was France right to ban the Burqa?'

NC: I personally don't like at all this French tradition of the state telling people what they can wear. I think it's one of the biggest…

NF: Don't you like Europe?

NC: Yes, that's…

NF: Have I misunderstood you?

NC: I'm not even going to start engaging with this, I think one of the great things about our country, funnily enough, compared to, say, the much more state centred way of doing things in France, is that we have a very, very deep rooted British idea that as long as people aren't doing harm to others, you should give them the maximum amount of freedom and choice to do what they want with their lives. It's an old liberal idea and it's one that I think we should stick to, and that includes, by the way, what people wear.

NF: Now, Mr Clegg, before I let you go, your track record in the World Cup has been pretty lamentable, you said England Italy would be 2:1 to England, you got the score right, you got the winning team wrong. You said we would triumph over Costa Rica, it was 0:0. Of course, allegiance moves to Netherlands in the Clegg household now, understandably.

NC: Yes.

NF: And, we wish them well. The quarter final is on Saturday, Netherlands versus Costa Rica, mystic Clegg, you've not got one right, a score prediction if you would.

NC: 3:1 to the Netherlands, two goals by van Persie.

NF: And, Arjen Robben, my god he's a player isn't he?

NC: I know, isn't he amazing, and he looks about 60.

NF: Well, he goes over like a grannie on an icy morning though doesn't he, he's down in a heartbeat that man.

NC: There you go, 3:1, so just remember.

NF: So, Costa Rica progress. Right, that's the end of Call Clegg, here on LBC, with Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, where news is next.