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Clegg: I'm still full of energy

Published 09/04/2015

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg takes a break after a local activist rally in Holt, Wiltshire at The Glove Factory Cafe
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg takes a break after a local activist rally in Holt, Wiltshire at The Glove Factory Cafe
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg takes a break after a local activist rally in Holt, Wiltshire at The Glove Factory Cafe

Nick Clegg has insisted he is more full of "vim and vigour" now than at the start of the coalition despite five years of criticism about his decisions as Deputy Prime Minister.

Mr Clegg appears alongside his wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez in an ITV Tonight Spotlight interview, with the pair discussing issues including their decision not to move into a Government home and his image in the public eye.

The Liberal Democrat leader said "you can't take it too seriously" when asked about the "terrible kicking" he had received.

And he told the programme despite the difficulties, he was eager to sign up for more years in Government insisting he was "in for a penny, in for a pound".

Mr Clegg said: "What did it feel like in the beginning and what does it feel like now? And of course one of the things about an interesting job, is you learn the ropes.

"You get a bit wiser and you get a bit tougher. I've become less preoccupied by the day to day stuff, the brickbats and so on and more interested and more positive about the things you can actually get done. Which I hope is the right way around.

"I feel much more full of vim and vigour now than I did in the beginning in an odd kind of way."

Ms Gonzalez Durantez said the couple appreciated the support of close family and friends.

She said: "From my point of view if I spend my time thinking about whatever a specific person may have said, I don't have any time to do what I want to do.

"I think that helps most is that we are very together and that we have a very close environment of family and friends and I feel very protected."

Mr Clegg said his wife had been "so right" to insist the couple and their children stayed in their own home instead of moving into a Government-owned property similar to Number 10.

And Ms Gonzalez Durantez said: "If you look at it with perspective it has been the best decision for all of us and if I may, also for Nick as well because you can see how politicians sometimes can get in a bubble and be completely distant from normal society and I think if you're in your house in your neighbourhood, it's much easier really."

Mr Clegg defended his decision to take part in a weekly radio phone-in, insisting it made him more "accessible".

He repeated calls for the scrapping "yaboo PMQs", insisting the weekly Commons session was a "silly farce".

Mr Clegg said his goal was only to maintain a "perfectly sphinx-like neutral expression" in a bid to avoid being seen as either enjoying the exchanges too much or looking miserable.

The Deputy Prime Minister also spoke of his hope for forgiveness from voters who felt let down by the Liberal Democrat U-turn on university tuition fees.

He pointed to a string of policies the party had been able to deliver on, such as the increased personal allowance and the pupil premium in schools.

The Lib Dem leader added: "And look I guess on the forgiving point, at the end of the day people have got to choose do they either not forgive you for the one thing that you couldn't deliver or do they actually acknowledge the hundreds of things we have been able to deliver?"

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