Thursday, 7 April 2011
That Nick Clegg New Stitesman Interview in full!...
Poor old Nick Clegg. The deputy prime minister has exposed his vulnerable side in an interview in which he says he regularly cries to music like a lickle gurl, his children wonder why students are being so hard on him, and the only time he played tennis with David Cameron he lost, but only, he claims, because the Conservative leader had tied his legs together and super-glued his racquet to a nearby public convenience, forcing the Deputy Prime Minister to hop pointlessly about the court and play with a cupped hand while his so-called Coalition partner yelled out 'hard cheese' every time he scored a point at the expense of the hapless Liberal Democrat leader.
"I'm a human being, I'm not a total shitbag – I've got some feelings," Nick Clegg tells Jemima Khan in a revealing interview in the latest edition of the New Stitesman. "The curious thing is that the more you become a subject of admiration or loathing, the distance seems to open up between who you really are and the portrayals that people impose on you … I increasingly see these images of me, cardboard cutouts that get ever more outlandish. They make me look like some ghastly caricature of a fat, toffy-nosed oaf - the sort you can imagine being tied up in a sack with chicken wire and kicked about the quadrant at Eton for not having toasted a crumpet crispily enough or some equally trivial fagging faux-pas. No, hang on - I think I'm getting mixed up with the cardboard cut-outs of Cameron. Dashed difficult to tell really - well, mine are usually on fire and it gets dashed difficult to see through the billowing smoke sometimes, to be honest."
At home in the evenings, Clegg likes to read novels while dressed up as his idol Judy Garland - "what a dame! and so *tragic*! - and says that he cries regularly to her music, although this is not, strictly speaking, breaking news: Clegg did make similar remarks in an interview with Radio 4 last year before breaking into an outrageously off-key rendition of 'Thar's no buzznezz like show buzznezz' in an outrageous Ulster accent before being reminded that this was Ethel Merman, not Garland's signature tune. He was later revealed to have consumed three bottles of neat gin and had to be forcibly separated from his feather boa and have the streaks of teary mascara removed from his cheeks with an industrial sander.
Talking about his family, he tells Khan: "What I am doing in my work impacts on them emotionally, because my nine-year-old is starting to sense things and I'm having to explain things. Like why all their friends from the park are being shunted across to the outskirts of London because we've capped the amount of housing benefit their parents can claim so they've had to move somewhere shitty they can afford to live, like Hillingdon or somewhere ghastly like that. Or he asks: 'Why are the students angry with you, Papa?' - obviously he got *my* brains and not his mother's! I just tell him, be grateful that your father can afford to shell out the £9 grand a year it'll cost to get you through Oxbridge, you brainless little oik! Now, get back to your sums before I take my belt off to you!"
Clegg insists that his relationship with David Cameron – whom he calls "Davina" – is not particularly close. "We don't regard each other as mates and actually I don't think it would be a particularly healthy thing if we tried to become personal mates - taking our clothes off and wrestling in front of a roaring fire then going off to look at photos of bodybuilders with the soundtrack of Cabaret playing in the background. No, we should definitely stop doing that..." When Khan mentions talk that the two men play tennis together naked, Clegg squirms. "No, no – well, er, I think we've played one game of tennis. Of course we meet from time to time but it's always basically to talk about what we're doing in government." Who won? "Ah no, that's a state secret," Clegg jokes, not particularly funnily. (Cameron won, Khan reveals. And Clegg's racquet is still clinging like a limpet to those public conveniences since you ask.)
Khan also asks Clegg what he thinks about News International chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, being a regular guest at David Camerons' dinner parties. "I don't know anything about Oxfordshire dinner parties. I'm assuming that they weren't sitting there talking about News International issues," says Clegg. "Indeed, if I know David, he'd have been trying to get her to supply some more Page 3 shoot contact sheets for him to bribe wayward backbenchers with. All perfectly legal and above board, I can assure you!"
Clegg also signals a changed identity for the Lib Dems. He said: "I don't even pretend we can occupy the Lib Dem holier-than-thou, hands-entirely-clean-and-entirely-empty-type stance that we've been bullshitting all those silly sods who voted for precisely that all these years with," Clegg says. "No, we are getting our hands dirty, and inevitably and totally understandably we are being accused of being just like any other politicians - which is a bit rich if you think about it, because most other parties do in fact stick to at least one or two of their election pledges when they get into power. So we've decided to cut the crap and not be ashamed of our incredible lurch to the right. We're going to go the whole hog next, just you watch. We'll have really smart uniforms made up amd a fancy sort of squared off helicopter blade logo that you can wear on an arm patch and lots of flags and book burnings - well, the students won't be able to afford them anyway, and it'll keep the OAPs warm when we axe their winter fuel allowance...might even have to start throwing afew of them on at this rate. Once we've annexed the Sudetanland and demilitarized the Ruhr it'll be no sleep 'til Moscow! There'll be an annual rally somewhere really exciting like...oh, I dunno - yes, that's it - Nuremburg! See all this democracy stuff is like *so* yesterday's politics. If you hadn't already figured that out when the party with the third largest share of the votes decided who should form the government, then you must be as thick as my little ...erm, whatever his name is. You know, the kid we were just talking about. My...you know..offspring."
On the manifesto pledge not to increase tuition fees, he insists that it was not one of his main manifesto priorities: "I didn't even spend that much time campaigning on tuition fees. I was already working on our new name - National Socialists..., even more ridiculous than Liberal; Democrats, isn't it! And what about my new slogan - Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer! Great, isn't it?? *Rauss!* *Rauss!" Look, I can even do the funny walk..."
Clegg has had trouble with interviews in magazines before. In 2008 he told Piers Morgan in GQ that he had slept with "no more than 30" women at any one time, a remark that sparked a thousand dyspeptic headlines - not to mention a considerable amount of chaffing down below....