Monday, July 11, 2011

"The pillars of the establishment are tumbling": Nick Clegg in the Independent

Andrew Grice has a substantial interview with the Liberal Democrat leader in this morning's Independent:
The deputy prime minister senses a rare opportunity in the hacking scandal to carve out a separate niche. The Liberal Democrats have never wooed or been wooed by the media moguls. Unlike David Cameron and Ed Miliband, Mr Clegg did not attend Rupert Murdoch's annual summer party in London last month. He has twice been through the mincer of the ruthless Tory-supporting press machine – during the "Cleggmania" of last year's election and the ill-fated alternative-vote referendum in May.
Grice also pays the obligatory compliment to Nick's powers as a linguist, as well as showing us what he does all day:
Mr Clegg, who speaks in Spanish to his wife Miriam and in Dutch to his mother, is at ease as he conducts most of his Paris meetings in French which is judged "better than Tony Blair's" by impressed officials. Mr Clegg meets Fran├žois Barin, the French Finance Minister, then delivers a long speech in French to business leaders.

He has a private one-to-one lunch with Fran├žois Fillon, the prime minister; answers questions at "town hall" meeting staged by the British Council; hosts a reception for defence staff at the British ambassador's residence before squeezing in interviews with the French media. It's not for show; behind the scenes, some serious business is discussed about the ever-closer Anglo-French co-operation on defence.

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