As we revealed on Monday, Jemima Khan has guest-edited this week’s New Statesman. One of the highlights of the issue, which hits the news-stands tomorrow, is an interview between Jemima and Nick Clegg, whom she calls the “Tim Henman of politics”. Here, to whet your appetite, are six of the most memorable exchanges.
1. Clegg on Cameron and the Murdoch clan
The Deputy PM makes it clear that, unlike David Cameron, he won’t be dining with Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch anytime soon. “It’s not my world. It’s never going to be my world,” he says. Here’s the full quote:
Well, I’m assuming that they weren’t sitting there talking about News International issues . . . Look, you’re putting me in a very awkward spot. If you’ve got an issue with it, speak to Dave. I don’t hang out in Oxfordshire at dinner parties. It’s not my world. It’s never going to be my world.
2. Tennis with Cameron
Asked if it’s true that he plays tennis with Cameron, Clegg replies:
“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.”
“Ah no, that’s a state secret,” he jokes. (Cameron won.)
3. “Why are the students angry with you, Papa?”
Clegg admits that he worries constantly about the emotional effect his work has on his children. His nine-year-old son is starting to “sense things” and recently asked him: “Why are the students angry with you, Papa?”
4. Tears of a politician
Clegg says that he attempts to lead a relatively normal life but doesn’t always get the balance right, which leaves him “quite miserable”. In the evenings, he likes to read novels and “cries regularly to music”.
5. Clegg hits back at Miliband
Following Ed Miliband’s refusal to share a pro-AV platform with Clegg, the Deputy PM hits back, accusing the Labour leader of “ranting and raving”.
I see it exactly for what it is. [Ed] is a perfectly nice guy but he has a problem, which is that he’s not in control of his own party, so he constantly has to keep his troops happy and he thinks that ranting and raving at me is the way to do it.
Clegg denies rumours that he wanted to call for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and says the coalition has made much progress in recent months.
We’ve now got an exit date, which we didn’t have before, and a much better set of weapons on the ground. And crucially you’ve got the British government saying to [President Hamid] Karzai – who I had dinner with recently – this cannot be won militarily. Once you’re in that far and you’ve had that many people die and be maimed, I think it would be morally questionable to cut and run overnight.