by Stephen Tall on January 6, 2012
Nick Clegg submitted himself to the new year delights of the primetime 8.10am Today Programme interview on Thursday. Here’s a round-up of what he said and the reactions to it…
Nick Clegg has kicked off his new year promising more action to curb executive bonuses, amid continued questions over his leadership. … The deputy prime minister insisted he was responsible for many of the tougher sanctions against high-earners and tax avoiders, saying he had inserted sections on tax avoidance into the coalition agreement.
“Look at this debate about irresponsible capitalism, what I call crony capitalism,” he told BBC Radio 4. “It’s Liberal Democrats who’ve led the debate on clamping down on bankers’ bonuses and we must be just as tough this year in the bonus season that’s coming up as we were last year, if not more so.”
Nick Clegg has vowed to push ahead with plans to curb executive pay and introduce anti-avoidance tax rules for businesses, as part of a wider drive to clamp down on irresponsible practices that he has branded “crony capitalism”. … “It’s Liberal Democrats who led the call, as Vince Cable did last September in our party conference, for restraint and new transparency and accountability on unacceptable excess in executive pay where people are being paid huge amounts of money even though they fail to do well for those companies,” he said. …
However, Mr Clegg was unwilling to discuss the status of the Lib Dems’ long-sought mansion tax, which is strongly opposed by many Conservatives. When pressed on whether a mansion tax was likely to be introduced, Mr Clegg said: “We will see what comes in future Budgets. One thing I’m absolutely clear about is that our cornerstone commitment to make the tax system fairer by lifting the point at which you start paying income tax is something that this government, because of Liberal Democrats, will deliver one Budget after the next Budget after the next.”
Asked about the [‘mansion tax’] on the Today programme this morning, Nick Clegg would only say “we will see what comes in future Budgets”. He spoke of his desire to capture “unearned wealth” but seemed to think that George Osborne was unlikely to act soon, if at all. The corollary of this is that the 50p tax rate is likely to remain for the duration of the parliament. The Lib Dems will not accept the abolition of the top rate unless it is replaced with some kind of wealth tax. …
Elsewhere in the interview, he attempted to bridge the coalition divide on Europe by emphasising that the government was united on the need to make the EU “more competitive”. But he damningly added that “no one planned for an outcome which left Britain in a position of one. There was no real planning or discussion about Britain being in a corner on its own.” However, the former MEP also attempted to shed his image as an unthinking europhile. “I’m not a starry eyed pro-European,” he said, recalling that it took the EU 15 years to agree on a definition of chocolate.
If you missed it, here’s an excerpt from the BBC interview:
A number of Lib Dem bloggers were listening intently to Nick Clegg’s words. Here are links to those I spotted on the Aggregator:
The Liberal answer to mega pay (Birkdale Focus)
My Today programme debut this morning… (Mark Pack)
Nick Clegg reaches out to our European partners (Paul Walter)
Does Nick Clegg really have the clout? (Lisa Harding)
What did Voice readers make of Nick’s interview…?