Nick Clegg: The Tories waged an 'ideological fatwa' against wind farms and single mothers

Deputy PM condemns Conservative right-wing rants on wind farms, single mothers and the European Union

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Indy Politics

Nick Clegg has accused the Conservatives of trying to impose an “ideological fatwa” against wind farms as part of a “completely random” set of prejudices that also include the European Union and single mothers.

In a strong attack on his former coalition partners, the Liberal Democrat leader also revealed he had had to block plans by the former Education Secretary Michael Gove to allow free schools to make a profit.

The Deputy Prime Minister warned that on key issues such as civil liberties, the environment and workers’ rights, the Tories had now moved so far to the right it had almost nothing in common with the party that was elected in 2010.

“If you go back to the Conservative Party of 2010 it was all huskie hugging,” Mr Clegg told The Independent.

“They professed an interest in civil liberties, they professed an interest in the environment, they professed an interest in being a centralist party.

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Dishing it out: Nick Clegg visits Panasonic in Cardiff yesterday (PA)

“Five years later it has been an almost non-stop struggle for me to remind the Conservatives to care about civil liberties – they spend most of their time at the Home Office trying to trash them. They (also) appear to have absolutely no interest in the environment whatsoever.

“I hear some people on the right of British politics rant against single mothers, the EU and wind farms all in the same breath. What have they got to do with each other? It’s a completely random set of prejudices.”

Mr Clegg said, in particular, he could not understand the policy of capping the number of onshore wind farms regardless of local people’s views.

 

“I just don’t know what the Conservative Party has got against wind farms,” he said. “Of course you need to make sure that local communities are consulted and they don’t run rough-shod over local feelings, but this ideological fatwa against wind farms – I just don’t get it.

“There is a rational discussion to be had about how you reduce the public subsidy on renewable energy technologies as they become mature,” he said. “But what I don’t understand is how you can say to a whole country – this is the figure for the number of windmills we will have.

“There might be parts of the country that want more onshore wind farms. The public are much more open about wind power than the Conservative Party is. In those parts of the country where people have legitimate concerns then the planning system is there to make sure that things are not imposed – but to say in an arbitrary way that there cannot be a single further turbine constructed seems to me to be a bit odd.”

Asked what he had been forced to block in Government, Mr Clegg cited plans to make it easier for employers to make workers redundant and some of Michael Gove’s education reforms.

“Michael Gove started off very pragmatically but then he started believing a lot of the ideological hype,” he said. “[He] was floating the idea of introducing profit in state schools. It was bubbling around at the same time he proposed reintroducing O Levels.”

Mr Clegg said he accepted that, at this election, tomorrow’s TV debate was unlikely to result in any uplift to the Lib Dems – in contrast to 2010.

“I’m not going to triumph in these debates – that’s just self-evident,” he said. “This time I don’t have much to lose, as everyone appears to have made up their mind one way or the other.”

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