Nick Clegg admits to coalition frustration: 'I would love to be Prime Minister'

The Lib Dem leader said if he had been prime minister he could have done better

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The Independent Online

Responding to criticisms about his party's policies whilst in coalition with the Conservatives, Nick Clegg said he "would love to be Prime Minister" and said he wishes the other leaders would apologise more about past mistakes.

The Liberal Democrat leader was speaking to young voters during a question and answer session on Monday at Facebook's London offices called Stand Up Be Counted: Ask The Leaders.

Clegg faced tough questions about his party's u-turn on tuition fees as well as his decision to enter a coalition with the Conservatives. The Deputy Prime Minister argued that the coalition was a response to what the public had voted for and he had no mandate to impose his policies.

Asked whether he felt the Liberal Democrats’ beliefs had been lost within the coalition, Clegg said, “I would love to be Prime Minister, of course I would. But it is a democracy, I did not win the election. I have had a lot of people shouting at me - asking why don't you do exactly what you want? But I do not have the mandate, the right - the democratic right - to do exactly what I want because I did not win the election.”

When attacked by young voters on tuition fees, Clegg said that he had "always taken this on the chin", something the other leaders fail to do.

"Of course I apologise for the fact that particular policy of my party we could not implement. I sometimes wish I could hear an apology from David Cameron for not implementing his policy he promised on immigration, or Ed Miliband for crashing the economy in the first place. But that is the way these things are."

One question asked Clegg whether he would have done anything differently if he was Deputy Prime Minister again. Clegg said that he was "incredibly proud" of the coalition's record and that the country's deficit was similar to Greece's when he came into power. "We were almost in freefall. Youth unemployment is now much lower than it was when we came into office. We have taken over 3 million people on low pay out of paying any income tax.

"Those are things I am proud of."

Clegg was also asked whether the Lib Dems would go into a coalition with the Conservatives again.

Clegg said it was the voters’ choice. He said he spoke to Gordon Brown many times in 2010 but it was numerically impossible to create a government with Labour. “I have to respond to instructions given by the British people, and the instructions were that the only way we could have a stable government in this country at a time when we were crying out for one, was that particular combination of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

"If you give us different instructions next time, I will do my best to follow your instructions."