I'm not ashamed to admit Nick Clegg agrees with me

Nick Clegg is one of the first politicians I’ve met who I could imagine having a meal with

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The Independent Online

I was on ITV’s The Agenda last week alongside the Deputy Prime Minister. Announcing this on Twitter I was inundated with people urging me to “give him a good kicking” or to bring him to account for this or that broken promise.

It’s the knee-jerk reaction to any elected politician.

Russell Brand, the cartoon cockney rebel, is feted for believing 9/11 conspiracy theories and telling people not to vote. He can do this from the comfort of his US penthouse and flog a £20 book in the process. Meanwhile, real politicians are in the uncomfortable situation of having to get elected and face the constraints of power with very little thanks for it all. Despite this, I was briefly taken with the idea of being the loose cannon, non-politician who speaks up for “the people” and takes down evil-doers with a barrage of measured questions and follow-ups.

The problem is the half hour or so in the green room where everybody mills around exchanging polite conversation. They become real people – not cartoon cut-out bad guys. They are there right in front of you, smiling, talking and engaging.

I managed to get some secrets about past guests out of the make-up girl: Nigel Farage wanted to keep his slap on for a function he was going to next. David Cameron told her that he had trouble telling his daughter off for wearing make-up, as she would riposte with “why not? You do ….”

Once groomed and miked we awaited the call. Nick Clegg arrived late and was ludicrously normal. I liked him. He was one of the first politicians I’ve met who I could imagine having a meal with. Most MPs are, at best, a touch odd – Clegg is an exception. I’d tweeted something before the last election wondering what the point was of being in the Liberal Democrats since they would never have any power? Clegg replied, and invited me to some meeting where the attraction of the Liberal Democrats would be explained to me. Stupidly I declined. We trooped into the studio and took our positions around the desk.

Political panel shows like to know what side you are coming from so they can balance the guest list. I always feel awkward on this because I have a different view on almost every issue and don’t fit into one niche. That’s part of the problem of politics to me. Everybody who is heard has a strong view coming from one or the other side. It’s the Bush Doctrine, “You’re either with us, or against us ….”

I think it’s more complicated than that but the undecided don’t make great telly. People in the middle aren’t convinced of their views. God forbid, we are sometimes even persuadable of others’ views. Back in the green room I whipped out my phone to get a selfie with Clegg. The other two panellists decided to photobomb it. Clegg heard the word “bomb” and backed off, looking nervous for the first time in the evening. The eventual photo was blurred and amateurish...very much like my performance.

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