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Call Clegg, 27th February

February 27, 2014 10:00 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Listen to the most recent episode of 'Call Clegg', Nick Clegg's weekly radio phone-in show.

Transcript

This is LBC, Call Clegg. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, takes your calls with Nick Ferrari at breakfast. 0845 6060 973. Tweet @LBC. Text 84850. Leading Britain's Conversation, this is Call Clegg on LBC.

NC:It's 9 o'clock on Thursday 27th February, and that means it's time for Call Clegg with me, Nick Clegg, here on LBC. So, if you want to get in touch, ask a question, do call on 0845 6060 973, or email at nickclegg@lbc.co.uk, and of course you can watch, as ever, on the website lbc.co.uk. So, let's go straight to the first caller, Ray in Hackney. Hello Ray.

R:Hello, yes. I'd like to ask about the hoo-ha with Harriet Harman. Being of an age that I can remember those times in the seventies, what's bothered me about this is that the emphasis has all been upon denial, and shifting it onto the newspapers. And, what strikes me is, we need to try and light…why can't liberal left open up and have a look at its own past, it's always keen to point out others, but a lot was going on at that time, and I think some honesty about it, instead of what we've had. Because, I can remember the time, and there was a lot going on in terms of these issues of liberation.

NF:To remind listeners briefly of course, this is the association between Labour's Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman, and indeed her husband, Jack Dromey, and Patricia Hewitt as well, they were working for what was then the NCCL, and its links with the paedophile information exchange. Which has been consistently featured and become a campaign for the Daily Mail, and after four or five days banging on the door, successfully, at last, they've got people talking about it. Nick Clegg.

NC:Well, Ray, I mean, I strongly agree with you that…I mean, you look back and you just think, how on earth was it possible for an organisation that was all about liberty be associated in any way with this abhorrent organisation. As you say, a lot of times have changed, this was early seventies wasn't it?

NF:Yes.

NC:I was a young boy then, maybe I don't remember it quite as well as you do, Ray, but it does seem, looking back on it, it just seems astonishing. And, to that extent…

NF:You became a legal officer in 78, so I don't know what that would make you.

NC:Well, I was 11 at the time, if you really must know.

NF:Okay, just taking up tennis, and things like that.

NC:But, no Ray, on a serious point, that's why I think, for instance, the reaction of the person who now runs the successor organisation to the NCCL, the NCCL became what is now Liberty, I think Shami Chakrabarti, she did what I would do in her position is to say, look on behalf of the organisation, even though it was many years ago, we find this disgusting abhorrent, and it was wrong, and we apologise. She apologised on behalf of the organisation, and I can understand why she did that, because it just does seem incomprehensible that you'd have any association, of any description. Now, Harriet Harman, she can speak for herself, she has explained that she doesn't feel that she had, if you like, a personal responsibility for that association, she didn't take the decisions, and so she's chosen the words as she had. And, I don't think it's right for me as another politician to start, either putting words into her mouth, or saying what she should or shouldn't say. What I totally share with you is that, when you look back at the past, and this happens a lot in a lot of walks of life, and you think, wow did that really go on then, isn't that extraordinary, because, our standards are very different. Yes, it is always on the whole much better just to be, kind of, up front about that.

NF:Shouldn't she just say, sorry, then it would all have been lanced wouldn't it?

NC:Look, as I said, she's said what she has said, she's explained why she has expressed regret but doesn't feel she needs to apologise for something personally, and so on and so forth. I think the fact that Shami Chakrabarti has said, on behalf of the organisation…

NF:Can I quote, Rod Liddle in The Sun today, 'She should just admit she got it horribly, horribly wrong, then it would be over.' He's right isn't he?

NC:Well, as I say, she says that it wasn't her decision as such, so she's expressed regret…anyway, unsurprisingly I'm not Harriet Harman's spokesperson, but what I am interested in, which is Ray's point, is that when you look back on things like that, and we all marvel that these things happened, maybe at the time almost without any comment. Well, of course, there was comment, but things were acceptable back then, or allowed to happen, which would now be completely intolerable to everybody. I think it's right that the organisation in question, and I think that's why it was right that Shami Chakrabarti just said, look that was wrong, that was wrong and it shouldn't have happened.

NF:The Daily Telegraph says, 'It calls into question her judgement.' The Sun says, 'She's been blinded by hatred for the Conservative supporting press.' How accurate is that would you say?

NC:Is what?

NF:Is Harriet Harman's reaction has been, blinded by…

NC:I have seen what you've seen, I've seen Harriet Harman's…she has every right to explain her side of the story, and every right to correct what she thinks are…well, you know…

NF:She's not blinded by the hatred of the press?

NC:You'd have to ask her.

NF:I'd love to, if she's listening do ring in.

NC:I slightly feel you're hoping that I can…

NF:Finally on this, Graham in Bushey: ' If Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt were in the Lib Dems, would you conduct an investigation into their involvement?'

NC:I just think it's really important that people take responsibility where they have to take responsibility. As I say, Harriet Harman has explained why she doesn't feel she should personally…she has expressed regret for the association between the two organisations, that's why it is right that Shami Chakrabarti, who personally had nothing to do with this of course back then, has nonetheless…

NF:So she can apologise but Harriet Harman can't, it is a strange step isn't it?

NC:Well, she is the leader of the successor organisation to the NCCL, and I just…you know, the only final thing I'd say on this is, thank god we now live in a world where it would just be absolutely intolerable to anyone, or any persuasion, there should be any association between a mainstream organisation like Liberty, and such an abhorrent organisation like PIE.

NF:Let's move on, Mr Clegg, other calls.

NC:Justin in Kingsbridge in Devon, hello Justin.

J:Good morning Mr Clegg.

NC:Morning.

J:You just mentioned differing standards of responsibility. You've give £10m to the Somerset flood victims, you've earmarked £15m for the rebuilding of the south coast. I won't even mention the 60,000 who are on food banks. But, you know, then miraculously you find £500m to give to the Ukraine, that's not part of EU, it's nothing to do with the UK, and it's bust. It has no means of paying Russia the £21bn that it owes it, and you'll lose that half a billion faster than you've lost the £1bn that you've given to Greece. I don't think it's in your mandate to waste UK taxpayers' money so wantonly.

NC:I disagree with you strongly, Justin, I think the idea that we can turn our backs on what is happening in the very centre of Europe, in the continent of which we're a part. I think it is massively in our vital national self-interest for our security, for the prosperity of our own European backyard, that we play our bit, obviously with others, we can't do this on our own by any stretch of the imagination. Internationally as well, in the IMF, in the European Union, to play our bit to try and both calm and stabilise the situation. Having millions and millions of increasingly impoverished Ukrainians living in a country of ever greater instability is not, by any stretch of the imagination, in Britain's interests, because it would have a direct knock on effect on the, kind of, prosperity and stability of our European neighbourhood as a whole, upon which we, of course, depend because we're part of that. So, look, I totally...I mean, there's a different issue about whether you think enough money is going to help those affected by the floods, I'm very happy to talk about that. I really would strongly though advise…I mean I think you and I are just going to have an honest disagreement about that. The idea that in this modern world we can, or should, turn our backs on events which are taking place on our doorstep, is something I strongly disagree with.

NF:Justin.

J:Well, two things. Firstly, it's not on our doorstep, it's part of Russia. Secondly, they owe Russia…

NC:It's not part of Russia, Justin, it's not actually part of…

J:And, thirdly, much more importantly, what if Russia then decides to, shall we say, influence the Scottish debate and offer them half a billion pounds just to tide them over. I mean, how upset would British people be then, and that's exactly the same as what Europe's doing in the Ukraine.

NC:No, Justin, I think we've come at this from such different directions. The Ukraine is a huge country in the middle of Europe, it's not actually part of Russia.

J:Which has no assets.

NC:Well, it is of huge importance to Europe, because it is the transit country for a lot of our energy supplies, amongst other things. It is a very large country, it is in a very strategically important location. I mean, you don't have people like, I don't know, the American President, talking about this from the other side of the Atlantic, because it's some irrelevant local difficulty. This is a major issue in our own European hemisphere, and I think you and I probably just part company. Because, I think one of the things that makes our country great, is that we don't just shrug our shoulders and walk on the other side of the road when things happen…

J:We have more problems in this country that need dealing with that would love to have half a billion pounds given to it.

NC:Justin, forgive me, it is not either or, it is not you either try and play our role internationally to seek to ensure that prosperity and stability, rather than instability and…

J:Isn't it better to get your own house in order…

NC:Can I just finish.

NF:Let the Deputy Prime Minister finish.

NC:It is a false choice to say that you either help Ukraine, or you help those who have been affected by floods, it is just not like that. And, if anything, I would argue that if we don't play a role, ongoing role, in seeking to make our own European neighbourhood as prosperous as possible, you don't actually create the prosperous Britain which generates the tax receipts to help our own.

NF:Last point to you, Justin.

J:So, you're making other people prosperous but not the UK?

NC:No.

J:If Devon and Cornwall is losing £5m a day, because of the Dawlish Line, and yet you're quite happy to pump £0.5bn into the Ukraine.

NC:Justin, forgive me, if you think that us giving a little less money to Ukraine is going to fix the broken railway line at Dawlish, then we really are, not only just on different viewpoints, we're on different planets. It is a ludicrous suggestion to say that assistance we're trying to give, or working with other countries to give to Ukraine, has a bearing on how quickly Network Rail can fix the broken rails in Dawlish.

NF:Is there an imbalance though, that £10m has been offered to local businesses, Deputy Prime Minister, and the £500m that's been found for Ukraine, is there an imbalance there?

NC:Well, £10m is not the sum total of course of the assistance that we've given. We're offering every household that is having to redo their homes after they've been affected by floods £5,000 to put in better defences against flood. We've of course got this big debate about how much money we spend as a country, as a whole, on flood defences. We're spending £3.1bn during this Parliament alone, we're giving council tax breaks to people who have been affected by floods. I was in the south west twice talking to other businesses, farmers, to fishermen and others, about how we can help them. So, the £10m that Justin refers to, of course is not the sum total of what we're seeking to do in order to help those affected by floods, and to try and prevent it from happening again in the future.

NF:Just before we move on, it's been just reported news breaking, that there are Russian military jets now on the Ukraine air, have been put on combat alert. That's literally just broken within the last two or three minutes. Your response Mr Clegg?

NC:Well, I obviously haven't seen it because I've been in here for the last two or three minutes, but these kind of developments are very worrying indeed. We all want to see the tensions which are now running very high indeed, particularly in the Crimean and the eastern parts of Ukraine subside. It's very important the new, and interim, Government in Ukraine, reaches out, does not seek to alienate any parts of the Ukrainian community. That there is calm in the dialogue between Ukraine and Russia and that we in Europe…

NF:Not much calm if jets are on combat alert though, lastly Mr Clegg.

NC:That's why it's so important the politicians seek to de-escalate the tensions, and not in any way stoke them.

NF:Alright, we move on to other matters.

NC:Ali in Burnham in Buckinghamshire. Hello Ali.

A:Morning Nick and Nick.

NF:Hello.

A:My question is a lot has been said about the killing of Lee Rigby, and the family said yesterday that justice has been done. What about the members of the Household Cavalry and the Royal Blues, eleven of them were slaughtered by the IRA? Does justice mean you set one free, acquitted him a week before, and the other person was convicted, Gilbert McNamee was set free? Is it because they were Irish Catholics that they are not in prison, and are the lives of the eleven soldiers that were slaughtered in Regent's Park and Hyde Park, less of worth than Lee Rigby?

NC:Well, Ali, you raise a very, very important point, and I can't imagine what it must feel like if you're a relative, or a member of the family of those who were killed in that horrendous atrocity all those years ago in Hyde Park. It must bring all the…or indeed for those who were maimed or injured on the day, it must bring all those vivid and terrifying memories back. And, then to feel that justice is being impeded by what is in effect a dreadful mistake, this issuing of this letter to Mr Downey. I don't think one can say anything to, kind of, placate the dismay that relatives and families, and friends, must feel. As you know, the system of letters was a, sort of, legacy issue that the present Government inherited from the previous Government. We're now looking at all the letters that have been issued, doing a proper review of it all. Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is in discussion with Peter Robinson, Martin McGuinness and others, because of course this has provoked huge anger and disquiet in Northern Ireland, I understand that.

NF:Mr Robinson says he might resign.

NC:Yes, and that's why Theresa Villiers has been in lengthy discussions with him last night.

NF:He might resign tonight.

NC:And, that's why we're urgently looking at the kind of things he is demanding.

NF:What is he demanding?

NC:Well, he's demanding that there's a proper full enquiry. As I say, we're first doing now a review of all of the letters that have been issued. It's a complicated matter when you get into the detail, but the fundamental issue at stake here…and, by the way, I speak as a leader of a Party, as by the way, and the Conservatives were in a similar position, when the last Labour Government put to us the idea of actually passing legislation which would amount to a kind of amnesty for those who committed crimes, we said, no. We said, it's not right, the rule of law has to prevail, we have to be a nation of law. And, that's why the issuing of these letters, and the effect that it's had in this case, is as serious and a source of such disquiet.

NF:How would you react to a judicial review of this?

NC:Well, that's one of the suggestions that Peter Robinson has put forward, and we're urgently looking at that right now.

NF:Do you agree with the idea of a judicial review?

NC:Well, all I can tell you at 9.15am is there was a meeting late last night between Peter Robinson and Theresa Villiers, is that the Prime Minister, myself and others, we're looking at this right now. We want to do the right thing, in a sense what we want to do is get to the bottom of…

NF:Is a judicial review part of it?

NC:Well, we will consider that because that's been one of the suggestions, I'm not going to make a commitment right now, because we want to, obviously very urgently and very quickly over the coming hours, look at this in the round. But, clearly, look with the benefit of hindsight it is obvious that even though responsibility for the issuing of some of these letters was transferred to devolved organisations we should have had a, sort of, more open discussion, if you like, over the last two or three years, with Peter Robinson and his colleagues in the Northern Ireland administration.

NF:There are meant to be 187 of these letters out there.

NC:Yes, and a lot of them as I say, were issued in the past, and a fair number of them…they're a mixed bag but a fair number of them…

NF:How many in your watch with the Prime Minister, how many since…?

NC:I need to confirm that, but yes some, absolutely, some. And, of course some of the letters are letters confirming that…

NF:So, we're still giving them?

NC:Yes, some of the letters, for instance, are confirming that individual x, or individual y, there is no information held on them by the police which requires them to be in any way further investigated. So, actually in a sense it's…

NF:And, as we speak, more could be being written?

NC:Well, as it happens, I don't think there have been for quite a number of months now.

NF:When were you first aware of this, when you came…

NC:Some months ago, but I've got to stress to you…

NF:You should recoil with shock and horror.

NC:No, because can I tell you why, because the arrangements around the historic agreement which has brought unprecedented peace and stability to Northern Ireland, were arrangements that were entered into obviously by a previous Government, and we inherited, if you like, the legacy arrangements around that. And, I don't think you, sort of, casually discard those legacy arrangements. But, in the case of Mr Downey, which was Ali's question, I think it is just obvious that a mistake was made, because, if you like, one arm of the law didn't appear to know that another arm of the law, in this case the Met Police, had information which was still relevant, that's where there was a mistake. Other letters have been issued to individuals where it's quite clear there is no further information to be held so it's slightly more straightforward. In the case of Mr Downey a dreadful mistake was made.

NF:Quick, last word from you Ali, you've been hanging on the line patiently.

A:The reason I said it, the second point here, the whole Muslim community has been the subject of a British inquisition, rather like the Spanish Inquisition, and is it a fair thing that two out of three million people are convicted, Pope Francis hasn't been invited to apologise for the Catholic atrocities. Should Muslims have to bear this undignified assault on their dignity?

NC:I don't recognise what you say Ali, I mean I spend a lot of time with friends and colleagues in the Muslim communities up and down Britain. And, as you know better than I do, Ali, the vast, vast, vast majority of members of the British Muslim communities, as is the case in other communities, are law abiding, care about their families, have actually a very special emphasis on learning, on working hard, and also on altruism and charity in their own communities. So, I don't recognise the kind of antagonism that you're talking about. I think it's terrifically important at times of tension that we seek to understand the past as fully as we can, but seek to confront the future together, rather than people pulling apart.

NF:Ali, thank you, let's move on to other calls.

NC:Anne in Islington, hello Anne.

A:Good morning, Mr Clegg, yes my question was as a woman of colour in Britain today, I find that when I go out shopping, or out with my friends, you know, we are followed in shops by security officers. The reason why I guess is because of our colour, because we haven't broken the law or anything, but it's rather intimidating and somewhat a harassment, a form of harassment really.

NF:This is what Baroness Lawrence was talking about, the 15th anniversary of the McPherson Report, is it Anne, when she talked as a black woman, she felt she was monitored and followed by security guards?

A:Exactly. And, you are minding your business, doing what…yes.

NF:Of course, don't go, let's just start with Mr Clegg, I'll come back.

NC:Well, I mean, I'm very worried to hear that you feel that you're being in any way followed, or look that people are following you just because of your colour, that is of course entirely wrong. I think to be fair to the Met Police, following the dark soul searching days of the McPherson Report, the aftermath of the killing of Steven Lawrence, I think there have been significant changes. But, that doesn't mean that we don't need to be constantly vigilant to make sure that the law is applied evenly to everybody, regardless of your colour, regardless of which community you come from. It's one of the reasons why I am supportive of Theresa May's attempts to make sure that stop and search is done in the most proportionate way possible, so that we lift this, sort of, shadow of suspicion that stop and search, for instance, is disproportionately and unfairly applied to one community compared to another. So, look, I think progress has been made, certainly since the huge culture shock which the Met had to absorb after the McPherson report. But, I'm sure it's an ongoing job, and I'm sure the very many excellent police officers who keep us safe in the Met would be the first to acknowledge that.

NF:Anne, thank you for that. More calls in a moment. Can I just bring an email in, Fred in Glasgow: 'Can you explain, Mr Clegg, how is the RBS able to pay £600m in bonuses at the same time reporting a loss of more than £8bn? We're shareholders, I want it stopped.' Says Fred.

NC:Well, look, you're not going to stop bonuses altogether because that's just one of the ways people in that sector are paid. But, what I totally agree with, Fred is completely right to say that bonuses should be going down not up, they are 50% down on last year and they need to continue to come down. And, I basically agree with the fundamental premise that says, look this is a bank that is only in existence because of the generosity of British taxpayers. In that sense it's not a normal bank, because it's not able to stand on its own two feet, at least not yet. When it can it can make a lot of its own remuneration decisions as it wishes, and it's also a loss making bank, notwithstanding the fact that some of these losses stem from events which precede the 2008 crash. So, it's a loss making bank, which is only in existence because of the generosity of the British taxpaying public, and that's why there needs to be restraint in the way in which bonuses are paid. There has been a 15% cut in the bonuses, but I want to see that restraint continue.

NF:Should any bonuses be paid? If this was a commercial organisation they've lost more than £8bn, the idea that you'd find more than £0.5bn in bonuses would just never happen.

NC:Well, first of all, you should get people on the programme here. I think it is…

NF:I've got the Deputy Prime Minister, I'm not doing badly, I can only go one higher, and I don't like him the way I like you.

NC:I was going to see people who actually work in banking. And, they will tell you that the way the remuneration packages work in that sector has bonuses included in it. All I would say is, firstly, what we have ended, and this was the thing that got the whole banking system into such terrible trouble in the first place, was bonuses which were actually paid for rewarding and incentivising risky behaviour. That is a nonsense, that's why we put a £2,000 cap on cash bonuses, why bonuses are deferred, they're not immediately paid, and they are only given in return for good performance where you avoid rather than actually exacerbate risk. And, the second thing is, that the bonus pool in RBS has got to come down, it's come down by 15% it's got to keep coming down.

NF:Can I ask you a question? The Sun today reports that you've been accused of burying a review into a £1bn project flop which got just 10,000 children into work out of a target of 160,000. It is reported you've decided not to publish a report into a young contract which you'd offered to pay employers to take on 18 to 24 year olds. Have you got this one round your neck Deputy Prime Minister?

NC:Utter nonsense. Can I be any clearer? We've actually published the statistics on the performance of the youth contract. For those who don't know, the youth contract is something I announced some time ago, I'm actually proud of it because it's got three bits to it. One, is to give thousands upon thousands of youngsters the opportunity to take up work experience places, which is a great stepping stone into work. Secondly, expanding apprenticeships for youngsters. And, thirdly, offering wage incentives to employers to employ youngsters. Now, of those three the latter one hasn't unfolded on the scale that we'd hoped. But, the work experience scheme has been a huge success, and overall the scheme has helped 200,000 youngsters. 100,000 youngsters have received work experience places because of the youth contract, and I really do think for people to start being sour and cynical about a programme which has given 100,000 youngsters the opportunity to get a stepping stone back into work is really grabbing the wrong end of the stick.

NF:I think you're doing something more about this later today?

NC:Yes, I am.

NF:Can you talk about that, or do you not want to…

NC:Yes, I can, straight after this I'm giving a speech, and I'm announcing a number of additional measures to the ones I've just described of apprenticeships, wage subsidies and work experience places, to help all of our youngsters either earn or learn. In a nutshell at the moment I keep hearing this, youngsters tell me at school that the careers advice that they get at their school just isn't good enough. Some schools do it well, but a lot don't, we're going to change that. Schools are going to be given clear guidance, how they've got to provide careers advice, they're going to be inspected for it, they've got to work with local employers to give youngsters those opportunities to speak to people locally about what they want to do in the future.

Secondly, if you want to go to university it's all laid out for you, you've got this UCAS system which helps you navigate through all the choices you need to make. If you don't' go to university you've got no one really holding your hand, it's incredibly complex, there are these maze of different decisions, different courses, different acronyms, different qualifications. We're going to simplify that into a UCAS style system for 16 year olds, you can go online and you can see all the options available to you in your local area.

Then, finally, I know a lot of 16/17 year olds who actually could really do with help from the local job centre plus. They can't get it at the moment because they can only get it when they're 18, we're now going to trial a change to that and allow 16 and 17 year olds to be helped. For instance, to help improve their English and maths qualifications if they're not good enough, but it comes with strings attached. In other words, that you have to do these English and maths courses, and you'll be supported in doing so by the Job Centre Plus, but if you don't do it you won't be able to carry on taking benefits. And, I hope that over time that will get more and more people from the world of education into the world of work.

NF:Couple of minutes left, let's get at least two more calls in.

NC:Terry in Croydon.

T:Good morning gentlemen. Mr Clegg, what exactly is your definition of in Europe? Do you agree with Mr Cameron it's [inaudible 00:27:44], not quite in, not quite out, or do you want full [inaudible 00:27:47], sign up to everything, eventual harmonising of fiscal stuff, and become a state within Europe as the country?

NC:No, I don't think that being in Europe means what you describe, because we're not part of the single currency, we're not part of something called the Schengen are, which is where, as you know, if you go to other parts of the European Union, you can travel across borders without showing your passport. We keep control of our own borders, I've always…in fact more than that I want our borders to be more properly monitored so that you know who is coming in and who is going out. So, of course, being part of the European Union is not being part of a straightjacket because there are a number of countries that aren't part of the Euro, we're not part of Schengen, but we are part of the, kind of, core proposition. Which is that we have created, and by the way it was 'we' it was Brits who actually created this extraordinary thing, which is the world's largest borderless single market. So, businesses in your local area can export goods and services to over 500m consumers, it's the world's largest borderless single market, over 3m people directly or indirectly in Britain, have jobs which are dependent on our place within that single market. And, we can also do stuff because we're part of the European Union, we couldn't possibly do on our own. We couldn't deal with climate change on our own, we couldn't frankly negotiate effectively with big economic super powers like China if we just did it on our own. We would be able to go after criminals across borders just on our own. So, it's not a straightjacket, of course it needs reform, of course it needs reform, but the fundamental view that I hold is that being in Europe means being in work.

NF:Just lastly on that, when you meet Angela Merkel later today, apart from saying Guten Tag [German 00:29:31], what do you hope to say, what do you hope to get?

NC:You're German is excellent [German 00:29:37], there you go.

NF:[German 00:29:38], what would you hope to get, what will you be saying to Angela Merkel?

NC:Well, look, notwithstanding there are differences between David Cameron and myself, obviously, about the long term future. His Party seems to me now to be openly flirting with the idea of yanking ourselves out of the European Union. Actually, in terms of the core task in the European Union now, we actually agree, which is that the core task in the European Union now is to improve the economic competitiveness of the European Union so that we live up to the challenge of globalisation, we live up to the challenge of rising economies in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere. And actually, I think that's where we've got a lot of common ground with Angela Merkel.

NF:She's obviously supremely powerful, she looks rather heavy going, does she have a sense of humour?

NC:I've met her a few times, I mean, obviously the Prime Minister knows her much better than I do. No, she's got a very good sense of humour, and she's a keen football fan.

NF:Is she, which team does she follow?

NC:Oh, I'm going to make a major diplomatic incident if I get this wrong, one of the big teams. I'll find out, it might be, one of the two, I'll find out.

NF:Finally, we end…I quite like this as an email, Jim in Harrow: 'Do you feel left out of the ski trip in the French Alps that Vince Cable and Lord Oakshott attended? Is it because you're rubbish at skiing or because they're planning to get rid of you?'

NC:What a nice choice. No, I had a very nice half term in London with my kids, and with no personal insult meant at all to either Vince Cable or Lord Oakshott, I prefer to spend my half term with my own family, than with…

NF:Are you rubbish at skiing?

NC:No, I like skiing.

NF:So, they are plotting to get rid of you then?

NC:I doubt it, I very much doubt it, but I hope they had a very nice skiing holiday together.

NF:You must go, you mustn't keep you late for those school children, or whatever it is you're giving. Thank you very much indeed, Deputy Prime Minister, Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg here, on Call Clegg, on LBC where news is next.

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