Saturday, 24 July 2010

Nick Clegg Q&A in Abingdon

Just got back from the Q&A with Nick Clegg. I'm told on Twitter by Mark Reckons that this was on Sky News unfortunately I didn't know this.

So I'm not going to blog all the Q&A like I normally do because I wanted to talk the whole event in without thinking about the event like a reporter.

First thing that struck me was that there was no registration as there was when I attended the Cameron Direct in Reading. I could just turn up, show my picture and walk in. I'm not even sure why photo ID was required.

It was amazing to me to see so much security around a Lib Dem leader, There wasn't really a chance to talk to Nick Clegg afterwards as far as I can tell.

There was a funny reference to David Davies who today was caught making some negative views on the "Brokeback Coalition".

I was impressed with the way Nick Clegg answered the questions although he was no better or worse than David Cameron in my view. I was also impressed at how packed the room was, some people had to stand.

Questions ranged from a quote from the Daily Mail, to unfair council tax, benefit cheats, pensions, Academies, local building planning. Nick Clegg try to answer all the points and could not answer only two questions. One a local question about a bridge build and one about an NHS memo on flexible hours as this was not due to the government but was a local NHS issue.

There were some funny moments, Nick Clegg does operate well infront of the British public. I was very impressed with the audience too who did not interupt or heckle and listened to Nick Cleggs answers even when they were clearly not happy about with Cleggs answer, such as when he answered a lady question asking why he did not sack Chris Huhne MP because of his mistress scandal.

My questions would of been on the timing of AV voting reform, IR35 and keeping the Liberal Democrat identity (I know thats 3 questions). Sadly I never got to ask any of them as 1 hour is never enough time at these events.

I hope the next Q&A event I get to attend is with the new leader of the Labour party so I can see all the leaders in operation.


  1. I wish there had been more time too - I would have been very interested in the answers to your questions! I wanted to ask a question relating to Europe and education.

  2. Barefootfiona (like the name 80)) were you thre too? what did you think?

  3. The commitment to do away with the complicated IR35 appears as the fourth of 20 priorities for the governments plan for improving the UK’s ability to do business.

    Q - The UK’s 1.4 million contractors and freelance workers have no employee benefits such as healthcare, holiday, pension etc. and with the end of the iniquitous IR35 we have the opportunity to achieve fairness. When can we expect this law to be reviewed - date please.

    It has caused great heartache to many people. The cost in distress has been high, but the revenue for HMRC has been minimal. The figures show that of the circa 1,500 IR35 cases PCG (Professional Contractors Group) was involved with, HMRC has proved additional tax was owed in around 10. Despite repeated Freedom of Information Act requests and Parliamentary Questions the Revenue refused to indicate the cost of operating IR35 and it is believed IR35 brought in a minuscule sum, if any, for the Revenue.

  4. I was at the Abingdon meeting. I felt it was an hour well spent. Such a variety of topics were covered. As dazmondo commented Nick was on top of most but an hour was not long enough. However, I would guess two hours would not have been enough either. I understand that with a Press that is so anti the concept of a coalition it is more important at the moment to emphasize those policies that we do agree on. However, I wanted to ask when LibDem ministers were going to emphasize our 'different' policies so that the electorate also realize that a coalition has two separate parties - it is what they voted for but The Mail and redhead tabloids keep trying to make them forget that. I was also impressed by the audience's behaviour. They listened intelligently making it clear when they did not approve but in a very controlled 'British' way. I hope Nick carries on with these meeting over the next five years.