Clegg picks Tory as island partner
Nick Clegg has picked Tory Ken Clarke to be his companion if he ends up stranded on a desert island.
The Deputy Prime Minister revealed he would while away the hours on the palm tree strewn sandy beaches listening to the Conservative former Cabinet minister's "many stories".
Mr Clegg was asked to choose a fellow political castaway during a question-and-answer session by First News readers and contributors to the Sky News Stand Up Be Counted campaign as part of the channel's Hot Seat series.
After excluding friends , including Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Schools Minister David Laws, he was quick to select Mr Clarke, who is "wonderful company" and is a "very good natured bloke".
The Liberal Democrat leader said: " I think I would probably pick, if it wasn't for them, I'd pick a man called Ken Clarke, who is not from my party, he is from the Conservatives.
"He's wonderful company. He has so many stories. I could listen to his stories for a considerable amount of time and I suspect we would have a considerable amount of time on a desert island."
He added: " He used to sit next to me on a table in Downing Street where we have the meetings every week of the Cabinet.
"Obviously, he and I don't agree with everything because he is from a different party but I think he is a very good natured bloke and talks a lot of sense."
Mr Clegg, who has three sons, described himself as a "completely besotted dad".
"They are so much more important to me than anything I do in the office," he added.
Mr Clegg told the panel that he did not smack his children but said he did not believe in outlawing smacking.
"The idea that parents don't touch their children and sometimes touch them a little bit with a bit of frustration or even anger, I think it's quite difficult to write a law and say 'mums and dads, you can do this but you can't do that'," he said.
"And that's why I'm a bit, I don't quite see how the law would work.
"On the whole, I would like mums and dads to be responsible and good to their children and not think that it's always got to be Parliament telling parents how to be mums and dads.
"Parliament shouldn't try to fix everything in the family home."
Mr Clegg again attacked David Cameron for refusing to take part in televised leaders' debates.
The Deputy Prime Minister said it was wrong of the Conservatives to "grandly dismiss" the proposals because they "can't be bothered" to turn up.
But the Liberal Democrat admitted he believed the number of party leaders set to take part in the live head-to-heads will make them a "bit of a laborious exercise".
He said: "I think the Conservatives are just behaving a little bit arrogantly, sort of saying 'oh, we can't be bothered to debate, we are not going to lower ourselves to the level of everybody else'."
"I think it helped last time for people to see how the different party leaders discuss things and then that allowed people to make up their own minds and that is why I will participate in the debates," Mr Clegg added.
"As it happens, the way the debates have been organised is not ideal, frankly, from my point of view.
"I worry a little bit that it's going to be a bit of a laborious exercise with so many people on the stage at one time.
"You either believe in open debate and standing up for yourself or you don't. I just don't think it is right for the Conservative party to grandly dismiss everybody else and say they can't be bothered to turn up."