In a fairly bad tempered interview given the easy ride that Caroline Quinn gives him (just imagine what a Paxo or Humphries would have made of this), he goes back to the formulation which most of the party is pretty comfortable with, namely that if we can meet all our spending priorities and “have money to spare” we should provide further tax cuts to people on “low and middle incomes.” This is a complete and utter u-turn in comparison with his Telegraph interview in which he says that the “vast bulk” of the party’s planned Â£20bn savings will be ploughed into tax cuts for “people on middle incomes.” In one particularly dismissive phrase, Clegg goes onto suggest that this wobble is all due to bloggers (in particular “Clegg’s Candid Friend”) getting “carried away” with “mere details”. I think I would put in another way:
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I have to admit to getting heartily sick of this shit. Whether it is about God, how many lovers he’s had, the Lisbon Treaty and now tax, Clegg is incapable of getting it right first time whenever he talks to a journalist. His interview in the Telegraph marked a significant shift in policy. If we hadn’t got obsessed with “mere details” (what’s a few tens of billions of pounds between friends?), the confusion would have continued.
Clegg’s problem when talking to the media was identified during the leadership election. He’s had the best part of a year to sort this out, yet every couple of months he goes off on one playing silly buggers like this. It simply isn’t good enough.
When I wrote on Comment is Free last month that the party has a major communications problem which lies at Clegg’s door, I got a lot of stick for making a problem out of nothing. I can only hope that a few more people now realise this is actually quite a huge issue which needs to be resolved urgently.