I have just watched the Paxman interview with Nick Clegg.
(First off, Paxman is atrocious. Why can't we have Dimbleby as the pointman at the BBC?)
Nick Clegg, starting from a weak Lib Dem position and up against a system and media that seems committed to maintaining a Labour/Conservative grip on our political system, is a man doing a tough job and is fighting against a strong current.
Will many people who aren't politically-minded have watched this? Probably not.
Should they have? Yes.
Nick Clegg has impressed me over the last year. I have a hstory of slating the LibDems, often with good reason (sometimes not) but he is slowly edging his party to the front of my swing-voter mind. If you haven't seen the interview, I would recommend doing so...with one warning. No matter if you are a LibDem fan, or a staunch die-hard of another party and just want to see Clegg f*ck up...you will hate Paxman at the end of this, he's truly a waste of BBC pay.
I posted last week on how it is worrying that there is no "policy" (remember that word?) being discussed. This election, so far has been about cuts, cutting techniques and the tools used to make the cuts. No one has spoken about, regardless of the cuts, what they'll do with education, health, policing... until now.
The Nick Clegg interview
Here's why I think Clegg is as good, if not a damn sight more worthy, as any other potential PM we have... (these are things that are important to me, so you may not agree or care about some of these)
Nick Clegg, and the LibDems in general, acknowledges flaws in electoral method and that number of votes, rather than seats is also important. As one of the few bloggers (and like the majority of the country) who isn't entrenched in the die-hard psyche of what their party tells them to religously think, defend and preach, I am not in love with the power of parties on the political process. Seeing it outside the box of parties and being consistently focussed on this as an issue is one head turner for me.
Against spending silly money replcing Trident
No income tax for the first £10,000 for those on less than £100,000. Ok, so it's not PDs dream scenario of the flat rate of tax, but at least the LibDems agree that the poorest (and yes, some others will benefit) should be given a lot more help. I am a massive fan of no tax on the first £10-12,000 and is a policy which will have a huge impact on people's lives. I thought that his comment to Paxman "If you don't think that £300 to someone on £8,000 a year is a big step forward..." was perfectly put and Clegg, not just in this interview, is the one leader who seems to appreciate what life is like in the real world.
I was also impressed by Clegg's acknowledgement of the circumstances of the £20-30k bracket. This is the majority of people throughout the UK and yet, the focus in politics is always on the super-rich (attacking them) or the super-poor (playing Robin Hood, trying to be their hero).
By not "ring-fencing" NHS funding, Nick Clegg has hit the nail on the head with what has gone wrong in Britain. Spending on health has ballooned over the last 13 years with no direct link in increased service. When he spoke about the new management positions throughout the NHS, this is what Britain has become, a society by beaurocracy.
Abolishing this mentality (along with some of the jobs) is a much better pledge than ring-fencing for political cover.
His schools premium policy - at this stage I know too little about it to have an informed opinion on this specific policy, but I was hugely impressed that finally a leading politician sees 'poor schools' as something that also exists outside the London headline boroughs.
On schools Clegg claims..."Under Labour if you're poor, it matters where you're poor" I work in the public sector with schools throughout the UK and what Clegg says IS 100% TRUE. What Clegg talks about here is a perfect example of Govt focussing on one area, throwing time and money at it and issuing a massive press release. This is not education policy and Clegg has nailed this one.
I like Nick Clegg because he looks like he wants to punch Paxo. PD wants someone to punch Paxo.
I'm a fan of a local income tax
He has admitted a change of heart to now be anti-Euro - another big thing for me.
Bad point - he said "by golly"
All in all, I think Clegg has done himslef and his party no harm at all in this interview. I'm not yet on the road to voting LibDem but he has certainly turned my head and impressed me enormously. The LibDems won't get the press they deserve or the respect, but come polling day, I can see them getting far more than the 20% the pools are indicating.
Well done Nick Clegg.