February 7, 2013 by Colin Kelly
Watch this clip of Boris Johnson making an appearance on Nick Clegg’s phone in on London radio station LBC.
I admire Clegg for putting himself out there and taking questions direct from the public and London’s Mayor!) on any subject they fancy. But I do feel his answers lack substance at times.
There’s too much waffle and flannel, he comes across as quite defensive and needs to be more candid in his responses.
Here’s what I think he should have said, in response to Boris’s question about government ministers using limos on their journeys:
‘I’m really pleased Boris got involved in the programme this morning and recorded that question because he’s exactly the sort of straight talking politician I admire and we need more people like him in politics. I know he rather likes the sound of his own voice and I do wonder if perhaps he’s a bit jealous that I’m on the radio every week and he isn’t.
But the issue he’s raised is a very serious one and there’s no place in this government for any minister that uses a limousine for the type of short, uneccesary journeys you’re talking about. It’s an issue very close to my heart – I’m very aware of the need to deliver value for money and I use public transport whenever I can. I’m about to take the tube straight after the programme this morning. There are times when it’s actually better value for a minister to take a car with a driver because they can get work done or hold meetings on their way to the destination. But when it’s used as a crutch, for short journeys, with no value to the tax payer then that is a disgrace and I’ll be reminding all my colleagues that this absolutely won’t be accepted. I have to say things are certainly improving and the abuses you talk about happen far less often than under the Labour government, in fact we’ve actually cut the amount of tax papers money used on ministerial limos by about 70 percent.’
Radio phone ins like this require very open, straightforward responses. You have to speak from the heart and address the issues head on. It’s not a parliamentary debate where everyone involved is a bullshitter. Clegg needs to remember who the audience is. It’s LBC’s audience, not his and when he goes into ‘politician’ mode half of them won’t even HEAR him, let alone believe him.