Did Nick Clegg, deputising for David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions, forget he's not a Tory?

Our diarist notices the Lib Dem leader was very willing to risk his own reputation in defence of Tory positions. Shortly before the Corby by-election, that may not be wise


Nick Clegg put up a highly competent performance standing in at Prime Minister’s Questions. He deputised so well that there were moments when he seemed to forget that he is not a Conservative.

This was most noticeable when he accused the Labour MP, Lillian Greenwood, of “wilful scaremongering”, for raising doubts about the future of Kettering Hospital, echoing what David Cameron had said three weeks earlier. But Ms Greenwood had in her hand a leaked document compiled in July by NHS officials looking into ways to rationalise services across five hospitals in the East Midlands and Home Counties, who suggested that the “best option” would be to cut Kettering Hospital to less than a quarter of its present size, from 658 to 143 beds.

Kettering adjoins Corby, where there is a by-election next week caused by the resignation of the former Tory MP Louise Mensch, and where the Conservatives have every reason to fear that Labour will take the seat from them. Why Clegg should put his credibility at risk to help the Tories through a tricky by-election is a bit of a mystery.

M-factor in Lib Dems' next move

It has long been rumoured that Nick Clegg’s future is in Brussels, where the term of office of the UK’s current Commissioner, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, ends in 2014. As well as giving Clegg a secure job for which he would be highly qualified, a change of leader might improve the Liberal Democrats’ chances of avoiding a wipe-out at the general election. But it is not going to happen. When the anti-EU Tory rebel Mark Reckless teasingly raised the topic yesterday, Clegg’s response was unequivocal: “I will not be a candidate.” A party source said afterwards that the reason can be summarised in one word – “Miriam.” Clegg met his wife, Miriam Durantez, when they were both employed in Brussels. She, I am told, has no wish to go back.

Lib Dem love-in

One of the more waspish exchanges yesterday was between Clegg and the Labour MP Rosie Cooper, whom the Liberal Democrat leader caustically accused of having “packed every soundbite” into a question about flooding in her West Lancashire constituency. There is a hidden history there. On her website, Ms Cooper says that she entered politics at the age of 16 and was a Liverpool city councillor for 28 years. What she coyly leaves out, which is also omitted from her entry in Dod’s Parliamentary Companion, is that she was a Lib Dem all those years. She spent more years in that party than Clegg has. She was a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate in four elections, only to resurface as a Labour MP in 2005. Hence the edge to Clegg’s hostility.

In the Daldrydums

Stephen Daldry, who was executive producer for the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, is not impressed by the impending decision to replace GCSEs with the English Baccalaureate. His beef is that the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has decided to leave the arts out of the core curriculum, raising fears that state schools will stop teaching the arts. That is on top of the cuts in government funding, and the lecture that arts organisations received from the new Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, who told them that they will have to get better at asking for money from private sources.

“We’re back to where we were 15 years ago, where we are having to fight for old principles, fight for the old ideas and ideals of a country that should be at the forefront of what we expressed at the Olympics,” Daldry complained, during a ceremony at the National theatre in which he was handed the Peter Brook special achievement award. He was backed up by Ruth Mackenzie, the Cultural Olympiad director, who said that they had been “absolutely” reliant on the young being able to “develop their skill in schools and in subsidised theatre”.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Delivery Manager - Software Company

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager Kingston Up...

Year 3 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 Primary Teacher in HullA f...

Drama Teacher - Hull and Grimsby

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: The JobRandstad are currently in need of ...

Reception Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is the UK mark...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Daily catch-up: Ed Miliband on low pay; Alan Johnson on Betjeman; Tom Freeman on editing

John Rentoul
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments