Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Nick Clegg has a great opportunity when he takes PMQs tomorrow

If Nick Clegg is a bit nervous tonight he can be forgiven. Tomorrow he will stand in for David Cameron for Prime Minister's Questions for the first time.

If someone had suggested 4 months ago that by July Nick Clegg would be taking PMQs you would probably have thought they had gone a bit peculiar, but here we are. One of the duties of the Deputy Prime Minister is to answer the questions when the PM is away as he currently is in the USA.

What I am particularly interested in is how he handles the inevitable mischievous questions. You know, the ones that will deliberately pick a part of the government's programme that the Lib Dems are known to be uncomfortable with and effectively try and embarrass the DPM by showing up "splits". I hope he deals with them in a mature fashion explaining that that is how coalitions work. He should not feel compelled to pretend that he and the Lib Dems agree with every dotted i and crossed t of the government's programme.

I also hope that he does his best to answer the questions fully. David Cameron impressed me on this in his first week but seems to have slipped a bit recently. Clegg would do well to demonstrate that he can properly answer questions and not try to use every question as an opportunity to score points off his political opponents. The more statesmanlike he can appear, the better the prospects in the longer terms for the Lib Dems. Our party has often been accused of not being serious about power. What could be more serious than our leader being held to account in the House of Commons by fellow parliamentarians on the key political issues of the day?

Nick Clegg widely impressed in the first leaders debate during the election campaign. The public knows him a little better now but tomorrow is still a great opportunity to further cement his reputation as a substantial political figure.

I fully expect him to rise to the challenge.

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