In tonight’s BBC Question Time debate, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was left perplexed by a number of questions.
The first question of the night came from Darren Metcalfe who said: “Your promise on student loans has destroyed your reputation, why would we believe anything else you say?”
Nick Clegg responded humorously. “A nice easy way to start,” he said. He went on to say that he got it wrong and that he was sorry. “Sometimes in politics just as in real life you can’t do exactly as you want,” he said. “I was absolutely between a rock and a hard place five years ago on that particular policy”. Clegg then asked for credit for the stuff that he had done.
Host David Dimbleby then put the pressure on Clegg, asking why he did not abstain if it was so crucial to him.
Clegg went on to dodge a question on where he would stand on forming a coalition, saying that either David Cameron or Ed Miliband will walk into Number 10 and it was just a matter of who they would be with.
Clegg was then mocked by a member of the public, who said: “I just wondered if you had any plans for a new job after next week when you become unemployed and your party becomes irrelevant?” To which he replied: “Charming. No, I do not”.
Clegg defended his decision to go into coalition with the Conservatives by comparing the UK’s economic problems in 2010 to those of Greece. An audience member retorted, saying: “Our economy is nothing like Greece’s”. He continued, “it sucks our insides to compare the economy of this country with Greece; you’re not that stupid.”
Clegg stood his ground. “Our banking crisis was considerably worse than Greece’s,” he said. “Look at the 50% youth unemployment in many other European countries where the government does not get to grips.”
Clegg was defiant on his choice to go into coalition with the Conservatives. “I will never apologise, whatever the short-term political effects on the Liberal Democrats, for having stepped up to the plate in a very plucky and brave way to put the country before the party,” he said.