Call Clegg 15th April

April 15, 2014 8:37 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Catch up with this episode of Call Clegg.

Transrcipt

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg takes your calls with Nick Ferrari at Breakfast 0845 6060973 tweet at LBC text 84850. Leading Britain's conversation. This is "Call Clegg" on LBC 97.3.

NC: It's 9 o'clock, on Tuesday 15April and a couple of days early this week it's time for Call Clegg with me, Nick Clegg here on LBC 97.3. So this is your chance to ask me anything you want for the next half hour so if you want to get involved ring on 0845 6060973 or email at nickclegg@lbc.co.uk and of course you can watch on the website lbc.co.uk. So let's go to the first caller, Emma. Emma in Stevenage. Hello Emma.

E: Oh hi Mr Clegg.

NC: Hello.

E: Good morning. I'd like to ask how can you say you didn't know about the child abuse allegations surrounding Cyril Smith when members of your party knew about it, Fleet Street knew about it and even the police knew about it?

NC: Well firstly Emma, I think you've got to remember these are incredibly serious allegations about, there are some horrific actions by a man who as you know is alleged to have been doing these things back in the 50s, the 60s and so on. So you've got to remember my party was formed in 1989 so a lot of these events actually took place before my part was even formed and actually many of them even before I was born. The fact is I, like many, many other people, first heard about these allegations when Simon Danczuk the current MP for Rochdale, got up in the House of Commons late in 2012 and look you know the suggestion that I somehow, if I had known any of this would have just somehow carried on regardless is absurd because these are monstrous things that appeared to have happened and they need to be looked into by the police. If you go back in history the police apparently did look into and then didn't pursue it. But I think these are very, very serious, very serious allegations which it's up to the police now to take the matter up because you're quite right, Emma, people want answers.

NF: I think we've got ... Emma we'll try and get you back, we seemed to have lost the call. So you're saying Deputy Prime Minister the first time you knew was 2012?

NC: Late 2012, yeah. Like everybody else of course.

NF: You'd never heard anything prior to that?

NC: Nope.

NF: And yet it was seen to be reported that previous Liberal leaders such as David Steel, it is reported was aware of it, possibly even in some terms lent on possible police investigation again you'd heard nothing about that?

NC: Look it's the police will need to talk for themselves but the moment that Simon Danczuk made these things public in the House of Commons the whips office in my party went and spoke to every single member of the House of Lords, current members of the House of Lords and current members of the House of Commons who was around at the time of Cyril Smith and said did you know anything? No one said they did. We even scoured what little documentation there is from that time. But remember as I keep saying, the party was formed 1989 ...

NF: Yes.

NC: Many, many if not most of these events were alleged to have taken place before the party was formed. There is just, there is simply no documentation. So of course you know ...

NF: It was bouncing around as early as 1979 [unclear 00:03:32]?

NC: I can only tell you, you need to talk to people who were around in 1979. As I say my party wasn't there. I wasn't even in the politics, I was 12 years old at the time. But things that just ...

NF: Yeah you know about the First World War, you don't need to be alive to know about something do you?

NC: No, I know but A, as I say the people looked into, with Cyril Smith and for some reason or another didn't pursue it. What Simon Danczuk now is saying is really, really serious and I quite, quite understand and my heart goes out to the victims, they want answers.

NF: Did you ever meet Mr Smith?

NC: Yes I've met Mr Smith. Look I wouldn't ... the idea, you know me Nick ...

NF: I do.

NC: ... do you really think I would have praised Cyril Smith ... now hang on a minute ... Do you really think I would have praised Cyril Smith when he died if I even had an inkling of the monstrous things he's alleged of doing? It is absurd to suggest that I would do that or have done otherwise.

NF: Knowing how close you are to your children I would think you are as repulsed like anyone in this land.

NC: Of course I am. It's repugnant.

NF: It does ... but you are, look I know you're not the leader of the Liberal Party but it's origins were there. It just seems strange that no one had a whiff ... even I knew about it or heard allegations from my late dad because he was a newspaper journalist.

NC: Nick, I know that people say you must know something ...

NF: Yeah that's right I keep saying the same point.

NC: I can only tell you what I did and didn't know. I'm not going to start, I'm not going to start inventing that I knew things that I didn't know. You know as I say, a lot of these things took place many, many years ago. Many of them actually stretching way back to before I was around, before my party was around. I now read and I heard in late 2012 what Simon Danczuk has said. They're very serious, it's repulsive, it is repugnant the actions of this man. They need to be looked at, they are of a criminal nature and they need to be looked at by the police. I don't know because I'm not a police officer. I'm not responsible for this. I don't know why the police looked at it many, many decades ago and didn't pursue it then. If the police want to look at it again I think that would be the right for the sake of the victims.

NF: Okay. Let's take one more caller. We'll take more caller and so everybody is ringing about this. We will get on to other matters. I'm afraid you've got take one more if you have the call ...

NC: Yeah.

NF: ... there Mr Clegg.

NC: James in Clapham, hello James.

NF: Okay we'll just take one more.

J: Good morning Deputy Prime Minister, good morning Nick.

NF: Morning Sir.

J: My question, Emma asked all the question I wanted to ask the Deputy Prime Minister but I'm going to ask you one quickly. Will you support the stripping of the knighthood from Cyril Smith?

NC: Yeah I would if I ... it's not my decision. There's this committee that does ... you know that decides.

J: Yeah, the [unclear 00:05:45] yeah.

NC: And my understanding is that these honours, how can I put it, they die when the person dies so to speak. It's not something which is there to be taken away now. But I am as repulsed as anybody. These ... the actions that Simon Danczuk has documented which need to be looked at are as appalling to me as anybody else. You know the suggestion somehow that I knew something and didn't act on it is simply not the case. The idea is just absurd this idea that I might have known about what Cyril Smith was up to. As I say, many, many decades ago and then wouldn't have acted, or wouldn't have that reflected in how I talked about Cyril Smith, when he turned 80 when he died. It's just completely absurd. So anyone who knows me would know that that is not something I would do. But what I completely accept which is much more important frankly than me or the party or whatever is the victims. Are the victims now going to get answers? Are the victims now going to see that their plight is going to be acted upon? And the only people who can do that give these are very serious criminal offences are the police.

NF: And no one in your party knew? Just lastly, on Saturday I understand you were reported as saying, they were not known to or condoned by anyone in the Liberal Party or the Liberal Democrats. So no one knew?

NC: As I say, the Chief Whip on my behalf within days of Simon Danczuk making these things public in the House of Commons went and spoke to every single member of the House of Lords and the House of Commons whose there now and who was around at the time of Cyril Smith and no one has come forward and said they knew something in that period. As I say we went even further than that. We went to some warehouse out in, outside London somewhere, where there's documentation stretching back to when the party started. We'd gone through it all because it's quite, quite right. The solicitors of one of the victims approached us and said do you have any documentation? So of course we looked. So we've done all of that. Now look I understand that people say well you must have known something. I'm not going to start, I'm not ...

NF: Or one of your colleagues?

NC: Look all I am saying is we have ...

NF: They said no?

NC: The colleagues who were approached. So all of them who were still in the House Commons and the House of Lords who were around at the time of Cyril Smith all of them were asked and none of them said that they knew something. Now I perfectly accept ...

NF: Has David Steel been asked?

NC: David Steel was involved in that and of course I understand that people want, particularly the victims want answers. But at the end of the day the only way that the victims are going to get justice in the same way that anyone is going to get justice when horrific criminal acts like this have occurred is for the police to pursue the evidence wherever it takes them. Now for reasons that I ... of course I can't second guess, what the police ...

NF: No.

NC: ... decided to do back in the ... it was in the mid 70s, but it's for the police now to see whether Simon Danczuk's book and his revelations merit further police action.

NF: Okay. Let's finish just with this. It seems strange, David Steel says that he didn't know anything, yet it is reported in 1979 his office when it was possible that the Rochdale Alternative Press were going to publish some allegations Steel's office said, it's not a very friendly gesture publishing that. All he, Smith, seems to have done is spanked a few bare bottoms. But now David Steel doesn't have any knowledge.

NC: Look you'll ... David Steel will have to speak for himself. Everybody who, you know as I say, I wasn't even in politics then I was knee high to a grasshopper. But people who were around then, David Steel, will and has done, can speak for himself. All I would say is that you know for the victims who quite rightly want answers the only way I can think as a person who is as appalled about this as anybody else, the only way I think they are going to get answers let alone justice, is for them to first understand why the police didn't pursue these things way back when, when the police first looked at it and didn't pursue it. And secondly for the police to take up the matter again now. But I can't direct the police like that. I'm just assuming the police are looking very closely at what Simon Danczuk has published.

NF: Let's move on to other matters, we have other calls. Mr Clegg.

NC: Len in Portsmouth.

NF: I think it's ... I'm sorry, my thing, is it Ken I think there?

NC: Oh sorry Ken. Ken. Ken, is it Ken?

NF: Probably my writing.

K: Yes. That's okay. Good morning Mr Clegg and Nick.

NF: Morning Sir.

K: Mr Clegg, does our government fully understand the agenda and mission of Islam and I would like to reply to your answer if I'm allowed please?

NF: You can. Let's hear what Mr Clegg has to say. You stay on the line Ken.

NC: I have a strong feeling Ken though that you want to reply to my answer regardless of what I say. So why don't you tell me what your concern is Ken?

K: Right I've studied Islam now for about 8 years and I've found out very clearly that the agenda of Islam, the mission of Islam is to dominate the world, rule the world with Islamic doctrine.

NC: No I don't accept that.

K: Now the other point of this agenda Mr Clegg is to force the whole world to submit to Allah the God of Islam and to force every village, town and city in England and the UK to live under Sharia law.

NF: Alright hang on a moment Ken just to put this in perspective. I'm sorry Deputy Prime Minister ...

NC: Yeah sure.

NF: ... This is of course operation Trojan Horse which I think has prompted this call. More than two dozen schools now under the spotlight in Birmingham Council. Michael Gove ordering an investigation. The suggestion that there is some form of sleeper organisation, some form of infiltration by hard line Islamists into British Schools. Deputy Prime Minister.

NC: Ken, I'm afraid I strongly ... I'm not a man of faith myself and I'm not a theologian and I'm not a Muslim. But I strongly disagree with your characterisation of a major world religion such as Islam. There are millions of peace loving Muslims across the world. Many, many Muslims in our country who are as dedicated to the rule of law, to equality between peoples, between ... about peace and harmony between nations as much as there are of people from other denominations and none. I really, really think it is wholly unjust to tar all Muslims with the same brush. Not least because extremism, religious extremism, yes clearly it occurs in the name of Islam and by the way I think violent extremism is a total perversion of Islam. I mean Muslim friends of mine tell me that their faith tells them they cannot and should not take somebody else's life. But it's the same of course for extremism of any other doctrine, any other religion. Extremism is a perversion of ideology which seems to seek to justify violence and abhorrent acts. And I think the suggestion that that only occurs in the name of Islam is clearly wrong. You can have Christian extremists. You can have political extremists. You can have extremism of any form particularly violent extremism in any form sort of borrows different ideological camouflages if you like to justify what are unjustifiable acts. And that is as unacceptable when done in the name of Islam as it is when it's done in the name of any other ideology. So I, Ken I think you and I are not going to agree on this, I would not somehow claim as you're seeming to claim that there is something wrong in Islam. What is wrong is when extreme, violent extremism is allowed to invoke and appropriate whatever religion in pursuit of things which are wholly unacceptable.

NF: Let's get Ken back and ... go on.

K: Mr Clegg, the mission of Muhammad is clearly stated in Hadith Volume 4 by al-Bukhari. This is the mission of Muhammad, stated by himself. 'I have been ordered by Allah to fight with the people till they say,' this is a forced confession he's demanded, 'Till they say "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah."' Now, what you are saying is a falsehood regarding the agenda of Islam. Islam's agenda is total control of the world. This is...

NF: This is your view, and Ken, I have to get involved. I'm sorry, I've got to interrupt. That is your view and I would also make the point that I would imagine you could pick obscure passages from the Bible and reflect them in a certain way but I'll let you wrap up with a final point to Mr Clegg. Go on, Ken.

K: Mr Clegg, right now what's happening in the school system is this.

NC: Ah, well, we'll come onto...

K: The Muslims are trying to... The Muslims are trying to infiltrate our state schools and universities with intellectual Jihad which is a struggle to impart in the minds of young people the doctrines of Islam. Our nation must waken up.

NF: Well, I think we're on a surer footing now. Mr Clegg?

NC: Okay, Ken. On the issue about the schools in Birmingham which are now quite rightly, being very closely looked at and inspected because of what's come to light, that there appears to be no real ideological agenda driving the education of these children in these schools. There, I think you and I are probably more in agreement than in what you said about Islam because clearly, I mean much as I am a defender of the right of faith schools to continue in our state funded system, I think the best state schools, faith schools in my experience, this is what the vast majority of faith schools do. Precisely because they have a faith identity, they really work extra hard to reach out to other faiths, in other words, to act as engines of integration and not as kind of silos of segregation. What appears to have happened in Birmingham, however, is that they turned inwards rather than outwards. They didn't reach out to other communities, they didn't reach out to other faiths which is what the vast majority of faiths schools do and do very successfully. And that is wrong, because clearly, we can't have taxpayers' money going towards the education of children where they're not, frankly, being educated to inhabit the kind of plural society we have but instead are being educated to kind of lock themselves away in their own kind of ideological silo. So I think that's right, it's absolutely right why Michael Gove has now said this needs to be looked at and needs to be looked at very stringently.

NF: Ken, thank you. Let's put an email in here. Maureen in Woodford. 'Nick Ferrari has been telling us that the foreign aid budget has gone up by 28%. Charity should start at home. Let's keep it here. It's our money. Can we have a vote on this obscene amount of money being spent?' This is a report from the OECD, I'm sure you're aware of. Yeah.

NC: Sure. Well, obviously this is something that we all have had a vote on in the sense that parties have put in their manifestoes at the last election whether they wanted to raise the amount of money we spend on some of the poorest countries in the world through development aid to 0.7% of our total wealth. And that was something by the way which wasn't a sort of 0.7% figure cooked up out of nowhere; this was something that was internationally agreed to. So all the rich countries said, "Yes, we're going to deliver this pledge of providing 0.7% of our total wealth to other countries." It's actually, I think, unlike... I know this is controversial but unlike the questioner...

NF: Maureen in Woodford.

NC: I think what Maureen said, I think we should actually be really proud of the fact that we are leading on this because all the rich countries in the world say we have to help the poorest countries around the planet. The way to do that is by putting a bit aside, 0.7% of our total wealth to go...

NF: 28% increase, Mr Clegg.

NC: Yes, but it is 0.7% of our total budget.

NF: At a time when you are restricting budgets elsewhere: health, education, and quite rightly some would argue, military defence cuts.

NC: Sure.

NF: 28% increase in foreign aid for contraceptive clinics in Malawi.

NC: Well, I would say, Nick, to you and to Maureen, the idea that spending money on some of the poorest countries in the world, in some of the poorest countries in the world, some of the most wretched communities in the world, it's not just a sort of reckless act of charity; it is actually in our own interests.

NF: How, Mr Clegg?

NC: Well, I'll tell you exactly why, because the thing that generates more violence, conflict, immigration across borders is people not able to live prosperously and in stability in their own countries. That is what is generating so much instability in the world. So the cost to us, whether it's people coming to live in our country because they're fleeing violence or persecution, whether it's us getting involved with humanitarian operations, whether it's us getting involved in peace keeping operations, all of that at some point or another lands as a cost on the doorstep of the wealthy parts of the world. What we are saying, and I think it is smart to do this but I accept it's controversial, is to say surely the way to avoid that heartache and that cost and all of that turbulence is by spending money wisely. And I accept the challenge is to spend it wisely, in order to ensure that conflict, extremism (we were just talking earlier to Ken) and I actually think one of the things that breeds extremism is poverty, is hunger, is people fighting over water and resources and so on. All of that, you see, can be addressed if the rich world helps the poor world so that people stay put, want to stay put and also where they can live harmoniously with each other.

NF: Why do you suppose last year other nations aren't persuaded to this argument, countries like Australia, Germany, Spain are cutting; the United States, albeit it gives a lot of money but they've increased by only 1.8%?

NC: Because it's controversial and because for some people like Maureen, it is unpopular. Look, [laughter]...

NF: You're used to that, are you, Mr Clegg?

NC: I'm used to advocating things that I think are right for the country...

NF: You should have gone into law. You would have been very good.

NC: ... in the long run which may not be popular now. I think of my recent debates about Europe. You can't, listen, I would love to think that the solution to the complexities of the world is to say we don't need to spend aid abroad, we don't need to work with other Europeans, we don't need to get involved with conflicts elsewhere in the world. I just so happen to believe in this as in so many other areas, we are condemned to try and sort out things in the world because if they don't, they'll end up on our doorstep anyway.

NF: You...

NC: And all I would say to Maureen is...

NF: Yes.

NC: All I would say to Maureen is if in ten years time there is a whole rash of conflicts in Africa or some of the poorest parts of Asia and there are people moving across Europe as refugees or people fleeing persecution or there is conflict over agricultural resources or water, and we could have done something about that ten years previously, I suspect we'd look back on it and think 'Why didn't we spend that 0.7% to make the world a bit more stable and a bit more peaceful?'

NF: I still think you should have gone into law. You would have been Britain's answer to [unclear 19:34]. You could have been...

NC: Your sympathy means so much to me.

NF: You could have been our [unclear 19:37], I'm sure, or a professional tennis player. We move onto other calls.

NC: Sean. Sean in, it's it Matfield, Sean?

NF: It is. Yes.

S: It's Matfield. Morning, Mr Clegg.

NC: Hi, Sean.

S: I'll get straight to the point. I'm a former soldier I need closure on that war in Iraq, I'll just quote you today in the Daily Mail, 'Tony Blair is to blame for the publication of the Sir John Chilcot report that Iraq war being delayed.' Can you respond, please?

NC: I have not blamed Tony Blair for the timetable of the publication of Chilcot, much so that's been reported this morning. All I've said is that the process by which Chilcot has to publish the report involves a lot of to'ing and fro'ing between the drafters of the report and those whose actions and words are being covered in the report. All I'm saying is I want everybody, and I'm delighted to hear this morning that Tony Blair himself, his office have confirmed he wants this to move forward as quickly as possible. I just think we want that to happen as quickly as possible. But look, it's not, I really think it's slightly pointless trying to peer over the shoulder of Sir John Chilcot and his team as they put the finishing touches to the report. I assume, and in fact, I know they're doing it as quickly as they can. I'm just as impatient as I guess you are, Sean, to hear and to see this report out in the open as quickly as possible.

NF: Why, as a former soldier in Iraq, Sean, why is it so important to you?

S: What pained me more than anything, Nick, was seeing the parents of the soldiers lost and then seeing the Butler Inquiry stating intelligence was not substantive or authoritative in detail but limited, sporadic and patchy. We were clearly lied to and Chilcot might have hit the nerve here, and what we want is a full and open judicial inquiry with Tony Blair, Campbell under oath, them repeating the questions asked to them. Nothing else will do.

NC: Yeah. Well, look Sean, look, I so happen to share your very strong view, though I obviously don't, I haven't experienced it firsthand as you have so it will be so much more vivid for you, but I still happened to think that it was a disastrous foreign policy decision, I think one of the worst since Suez and I think it was taken on a wholly false prospectus. And I've always been on the view, my personal view is that its legality is seriously dubious, so it's no surprise to you, Sean, that I think we shouldn't have gone to war in Iraq and it should be no surprise to you that Tony Blair fervently believes that we should. I think all sides, I don't think anyone's views about that decision are going to be changed but what I totally accept is that we need to understand how this decision was taken, on what basis, on the basis of what kind of information so that we not only learn the lessons of the past but we also learn about the future. Because there will be occasions in the future where we're being challenged to decide whether we're going to take military action or not.

NF: Got any idea when, Deputy Prime Minister? It's reported, well, two things are reported in the Times today. You and Tony Blair are (in quotes) 'A furious spat.'

NC: No.

NF: Just not true?

NC: No, it's not. Honestly, you'll search in vain for any wording from me sort of pointing the finger at any individual. All I'm pointing out is the obvious, which is that as the Chilcot inquiry comes to its latter stages, there's a lot of sort of to'ing and fro'ing about what is and what is not included in the final report.

NF: They're saying the eve of next year's general election; is that a possibility?

NC: Do you know what? I'm not writing the report. It is an independent report. It is not in the gift of government. All I know is, and I don't mind doing this publically, is to say I just hope it's published as quickly as possible because we've been waiting for some time.

NF: We move onto other calls.

NC: John in Stanstead Abbotts.

J: Hiya, thank you for taking my call.

NC: Hello.

J: Hiya. Yes, it's regarding the general practitioner's new policy of telephone calls and emails, and possibly Skype. What sort of assurances can you give, because the way it sort of looks at the moment, that it's going to go the same way as the level of service of the banking system where you first of all get a bad service from the local branch purposefully so that you use online. Then once you're online, they give you abysmal service there and obviously, it doesn't cost anything to do that and before you know it, you'll be speaking to some doctor in India, no doubt.

NC: No, John. Sorry, that's absolutely not the intention. The intention is not to sort of remove your ability, your freedom to see your doctor and to be physically examined. That's in a sense, essential of course, when you're dealing with physical problems and ailments and illnesses. No, this is all about making sure that we as patients have access to medical advice beyond the kind of nine to five culture which exists at the moment. I'm sure, John, you'll have had occasions, I certainly have and certainly as a parent with small kids, the number of times either on a weekend or the evening, you just want to be able to see a doctor or speak to a doctor. And that's by the way, why I think a lot of people end up in A&E at weekends when they frankly don't need to. I've done that. I've been to A&E with a sick child where I kind of know they don't really need A&E treatment but I don't quite know what else...

NF: There's no choice.

NC: You know, know what to do. So what we're doing is basically trying to move towards longer hours, seven day a week treatment because people's illnesses don't respect the clock. They don't respect the day of the week. That's what this initiative is about and part of it, part of it may be that some GP's surgeries will try and make themselves available where that is appropriate, by email or by other means. But many other GP's surgeries will simply make it easier for you to go and see your GP after you've returned late from work, for instance, which is something that I know a lot of adults have a problem with juggling right at the moment. So look, John, I hope if we were to speak in a year's time or so, you'd say, "Actually, it worked."

NF: Genius idea. Where is the evidence, just lastly on this, Deputy Prime Minister, that this £50m scheme will help cut A&E waiting times?

NC: Well, the evidence, not the evidence, the evidence will be, the proof will be eating the pudding.

NF: But why do we think it will?

NC: Because as I said earlier, there is evidence that people go to A&E because they feel they cannot get access to their local GP's surgery.

NF: A bit of a finger in the wind this, though, isn't it?

NC: No, I don't think so. It's not. It's fairly easy to sort of scientifically, if you want to put it that way, ask people in A&E, "Why are you here? Why aren't you at your GP's surgery?"

NF: Well, if you've got a broken arm, you've got a broken arm. You're not going to go...

NC: Then "I've got a broken arm."

NF: Calling on Skype isn't going to make a blind bit of difference.

NC: Absolutely. No, no. Absolutely. That's not what this is about. This is about those people who might be going to A&E, and I've certainly met a lot of people who are in this category, who kind of know that if they could, it would be better for them to see a GP but they just, they either don't know how or they don't think that's available to them at that particular time.

NF: Jeremy Hunt told me yesterday his grandmother is fluent on Skype. Is your grandmother fluent on Skype?

NC: She, I have a brother who lives in South East Asia and so my parents do, in fact, I was skyping with them to my younger brother this very Sunday afternoon.

NF: Why did I ask. Let's move onto other questions.

NC: There you go. Graham in Bushey.

G: Good morning.

NC: Well, you did ask.

NF: Did I? Yes, I...

NC: Hello, Graham.

G: Hi there. Morning. Nick, I understand that in the lead-up of the two EU debates with Nigel Farrage that you used taxpayer funded special advisors and civil servants to prepare you and carry out research into facts and figures on the EU. Is this really the correct way and correct use of taxpayer money, when it should be funded by your own party?

NC: Well, it's just not true, is it? Of course...

NF: Well, we don't know. That's what we're asking you. Is it true?

NC: Well, no, no. Graham was making an ascertain and I'm saying the ascertain is not correct.

NF: You look at me as though, I wasn't there....

NC: No, Graham was making a breezy ascertain of which there are a fair number this morning. [Laughter]. Look, of course, Graham, as a matter of course as a Deputy Prime Minister, someone who is constantly talking to other European governments and so on and so forth, I get official advice and I have done for four years now, about what's going on in the European Union, about you know...

G: No, Nick, that's not the question. The question was in the lead-up to those two debates, the specific question that you had help, assistance in getting facts and figures for the use in a debate from special advisors and civil servants to help you deal with the actual questions that might or might not come up? For example, what did Ryan Coetzee have an involvement in, which would be a question mark whether he should be [over speaking 27:59]...

NC: That's a slightly different issue. That's the thing about official special advisors, now, special advisors are people who aren't officials. They're in government with politicians for the duration of the time that politicians are in government and Ryan Coetzee, just like any other special advisor, and there are special advisors on both sides of the coalition, there were special advisors in the last government and there no doubt will be in the next government. They're not officials but they assist in Ryan Coetzee's case, me, and they assist their ministers, their prime ministers or their deputy prime ministers to do the work in government, and...

NF: So he's not an election strategist, Mr Coetzee?

NC: He's there, quite rightly, to provide me with advice on what we can do in government, the Liberal Democrats, that is, how we can communicate that successfully because of course, as I have learnt over the last four years, there is no point doing things in government without then explaining that to members of the public. To anticipate the kind of things that government should be doing to be addressing people's everyday concerns. That's a totally legitimate, a totally legitimate role for special advisors.

NF: Well, breezy ascertain number nine this morning is that he's largely engaged on election strategy, conducting polling to work out the potential Lib Dem voters, working on messaging and we're paying £110,000 to Mr Coetzee.

NC: Look, the idea that taxpayers, that Graham believes he's paying for Liberal Democrat polling, of course, is a nonsense. Of course...

NF: May I ask what Mr Coetzee does then? He doesn't do any of the above?

NC: He's a special advisor who provides me, as special advisors have done for a long time and no doubt, will continue to do, on advice about what I can do, what my party can do and what we should do, what we should be focusing on in government to deliver the kind of things that we want to deliver. So a stronger economy...

NF: Should the Lib Dems be paying for that then?

NC: Look, David Cameron has special, I have special advisors, ministers have special advisors. The last Labour government had special advisors. In fact, I just read recently that the Labour party had a special advisor who had to go back to America and didn't have a Visa to work here. So, but it's not wrong to say that you have someone alongside you in my position in government, who provides both policy and political advice so that we can provide the best kind of help to people through government.

NF: How do you get your money's worth? For £110,000, he must have some tremendous advice?

NC: [Laughter]. He does happen to have tremendous advice but the point that Graham...

NF: Tell us one thing he's told you. Share with us one thing he's told you.

NC: The point... [Laughter]. I'm not going to, Nick.

NF: Just one thing!

NC: No, Nick! Oh, the innocence with which you ask the question.

NF: Don't wear a tie, do wear a tie, whatever it might be. Fantastic.

NC: But the point that Graham is making which is a perfectly legitimate point, totally legitimate point is what do taxpayers pay for and what do they not pay for? What do officials do and what do special advisors do? And I've tried to explain the distinction between the two.

NF: Lastly, well, two things, Mr Clegg. I'm going to have a couple of questions, if I may. There's great excitement about the choice of Prime Minister's footwear on his holiday.

NC: Right.

NF: I have a picture of you with your fragrant wife who looks absolutely fantastic in the blazing heat. There you are. You look like you're about to deliver Milk Tray chocolates, dressed all in black apart from sandals. Now, is that the footwear that you normally choose when you're on holiday, open toe sandals?

NC: What's wrong with sandals?

NF: I think, I'm just checking...

NC: It's quite Lib Dem, isn't it?

NF: [Laughter] It's...

NC: Look, I...

NF: Do you have a beard as well?

NC: Look, I'm afraid the listeners can't look at it. I think they're perfectly alright sandals.

NF: That's what you'll be wearing on your holiday, is it?

NC: What, those particular sandals?

NF: Yes.

NC: I will dig them out. Since it's not quite the summer yet, I won't be wearing sandals quite yet, I don't find it warm enough.

NF: Alright. Lastly, if you and your sons could choose either the FA Cup for Arsenal or being in the top four finish so they could go...

NC: [Gasps].

NF: Yes, you know where I'm going with this. Which would it be?

NC: Ooh. I think it would be the silverware, actually.

NF: Yes? You've got to feel confident, haven't you?

NC: Yeah. Yeah, confident but...

NF: Once you've made a battle of it.

NC: Yeah. Haven't done it the easy way recently, but...

NF: But an interesting week.

NC: [Laughter]. I [unclear 31:38] slightly. I'd go for the silver, I'd go for the FA Cup, yeah.

NF: Another interesting week in the life of the Dep Prime Minister. [Unclear 31:45] Thank you, Nick Clegg for being here on Call Clegg on LBC.

NC: Thank you very much.