The Sketch: Now even the Tories pick on Nick Clegg

 

It didn't need much imagination to know what Andrew Mitchell was doing today, listening attentively to a statement by Theresa May on "police integrity". If you were a former cabinet minister convinced that you had, not to put too fine a point it, been fitted up by the Old Bill, you too would probably slip into one of the benches just inside the door of the chamber and hear what the Home Secretary was intending to do about rogue coppers.

Particularly if your grievance had been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which she was now beefing up to improve its rather sorry investigation rate. He stayed only for about 15 minutes. But, along with a wide Commons welcome for the May statement, his silent presence was another reminder that "public concern about the integrity of the police", as Ms May described it, is no longer something only a minority of left-wing MPs bang on about.

No such cross-party harmony had enveloped Nick Clegg earlier. In fact, it was a day to wonder how much fun it must be to be Deputy Prime Minister when you are kicked around by all sides – notably including the Tories you are supposed to be in coalition with.

He might expect Labour MPs such as Kerry McCarthy to ask "in the light of the current horse-meat scandal" what advice would he "give to consumers and Liberal Democrat voters who think they are buying one thing but end up with something completely different?"

But he might have hoped to be spared Tory backbencher Andrea Leadsom pointedly asking, post-EU summit, if he regretted saying last November that there was "absolutely no prospect of securing a real-terms cut in the EU budget". Or Christopher Chope complaining that "collective ministerial responsibility" was being "set aside", just after the DPM had admitted there was a "grown-up" disagreement over the European Convention on Human Rights.

To be fair, he slapped down Chope by saying that collective responsibility applied only to policies that had been decided on. But then he was stabbed from behind by a Tory backbencher who actually copied Clegg's Labour shadow, Harriet Harman, by harrying him on the "bedroom tax".

What, Gordon Henderson wanted to know, should he say to his paraplegic constituent, Glen, who lived in a "specially converted two-bedroom bungalow" with one room used by a carer, and now having to pay an extra £14 per week?

This may indicate, of course, Clegg's usefulness as a punchbag for Tory backbenchers who might be less keen to air their complaints in public to a Conservative minister. Or that Labour warnings about benefit cuts hurting constituents of Tory MPs just as much are hitting home. Or both.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission, Benefits, OTE £100k: SThree: ...

Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

£32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

£27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you a recent graduate loo...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine