Deputy PM Nick Clegg admits to privileged start in life
Nick Clegg had to own up to some embarrassing truths about his own privileged background yesterday as he launched his campaign to give everyone more equal opportunities in life.
The Deputy Prime Minister announced that he wanted to create a society in which job opportunities would depend on “what you know, not who you know” — with the specific target of cracking down on unpaid work experience.
But it emerged that Mr Clegg's first work experience came through his father's friend when he secured an unpaid internship at a Finnish bank. His father, Nicholas, was chairman of United Trust Bank.
After university, he obtained a job in Brussels with the EU trade commissioner, Leon Brittan, after being recommended by a neighbour of the Clegg family, Lord Carrington, who had served alongside Mr Brittan in Margaret Thatcher's government.
The disclosure brought accusations of hypocrisy last night, but Mr Clegg responded: “I do not deny that I have been lucky but the plans I set out today will help others from a range of backgrounds to get the same opportunities.”
The furore overshadowed the deeper issue of child poverty, as Mr Clegg was warned by charities that government spending cuts would increase the numbers of families facing financial hardship.