Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Loyal, robust, a little bit fuzzy – but Nick’s not completely dull
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. As Political Editor and then Chief Political Commentator, he previously covered the John Major and early Tony Blair era. He has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Times, Times and Sunday Telegraph, and Sunday Correspondent. He is the author of Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (2000).
Monday 01 July 2013
Waiting on Monday at Admiralty House for Nick Clegg, we were mesmerised by the slogans decorating the tasteful blue backdrop behind the podium: Fairer Society Stronger Economy. And to relieve the monotony, Stronger Economy Fairer Society. So why not further variants? Stronger Society Fairer Economy perhaps? Or would that be a little too controversial? Possibly, though the Deputy PM’s language is anyway a bit fuzzy on occasions. As in his soundbite on Ukip: “They appeal to people who want a better yesterday. I want a better tomorrow.”
This sounds good but is a bit unfair on Nigel Farage unless Clegg is in possession of a secret History of Britain by the Ukip leader in which the Normans never invaded and the sun never set on the British empire. Harking back to yesterday perhaps, but not – so far – trying to make it “better”.
Defending GCHQ’s apparently limitless powers of surveillance, Clegg said he had blocked the “snooper’s charter” which would have widened them still further. But in saying that the intelligence services are “different from the days of John Le Carré” he may have made an unfortunate choice. The author has kept up rather well with current trends in espionage, and the hero of his latest novel is topically threatened with trial by secret court, which Le Carré denounced and Clegg voted for.
On the bedroom tax he was similarly loyal, while agreeing, in what given the awe-inspiring rise in rent arrears across the country is surely the understatement of the week, that in the transition to a more “sensible” system “you might get families who might get caught out”.
He robustly rejected the “loopy” manifesto ideas of Tory dissident backbenchers, along with David Cameron’s surrender to his backbenchers over demands for the married tax allowance. On Europe, too, he was a lot more robust than Labour complaining David Cameron plucked a referendum date out of “thin air” and affirming the Lib Dems would “always be the party of ‘in’”.
And he disagreed with the recommendation of an MPs’ pay rise, setting an example to fellow party leaders by saying he would pay it back. But would he publish his tax return? He was “totally relaxed” about doing so but would not act unilaterally as it needed a “collective” decision by ministers. Since the details were published, it would be “fantastically dull”. It would be unfair to say the same of his press conference. Only some of it was.
Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Wreckage could be found within a week as search reaches 'very critical juncture', says minister
Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
Royal Tour 2014: Is the Duchess of Cambridge the only person ever to climb into a fighter jet wearing a dress and high heels?
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 How We Met: Alison Moyet & Emma Kennedy: 'I knew we'd be friends because she was happy to make a prat of herself'
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...