24 Mar 2011

Nick Clegg: does he always agree with Dave?

It was supposed to be all about promoting the Budget plans for economic growth. Twenty-one Enterprise Zones are being set up in unemployment hotspots and David Cameron and Nick Clegg were at the Boots HQ in Nottingham to celebrate one of the first of them being set up right next door.

Then at the end of a question and answer session with Boots employees, the PM and the DPM were asked about where we’d all be in 2015.

David Cameron said in a jokey closing remark that they’d probably be having election TV leaders’ debates and that this time it might be “a bit better natured between the two of us.”

The two men then take the applause and walk off the stage … BUT Nick Clegg forgets he has his microphone on and says to David Cameron as they leave the room: “If we keep doing this we won’t find anything to bloody disagree on in the bloody TV debates.”

David Cameron laughs then Nick Clegg looks down at lapel realising, a la Gordon Brown and “bigot-gate,” that he’s forgotten to take the mike off.

His press chief, Lena Pietsch, gives an anxious sideways look to Ed Lewellyn, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff.

Back on the Budget, something in the OBR report (p27, para 2.39) which might take a bit of the smile of Nick Clegg’s face.

It’s sounded very much from recent statements that the government has pretty well decided that it will get the personal allowance up to £10,000 in this parliament.The OBR obviously thought they’d heard something like that and checked with the Treasury.

This is how they report the reply: “The Treasury has confirmed that … no commitment has been made regarding the progress to be achieved over our forecast horizon.”

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17 reader comments

  1. appointmetotheboard says:

    Boots? Interesting choice of venue. Did anyone ask Clegg or Cameron if Boots had any plans on becoming a tax-paying UK company again?

    1. Saltaire Sam says:

      Exactly. How appropriate that they choose a company that dodges its taxes to launch an initiative about tax advantages to business.

      They are clowns.

  2. Pat says:

    I don’t think that this is a Bigot- style gaffe. It was obviously a joke and wasn’t offensive or particularly insightful about something we didn’t already know or think

  3. Robert Crosby says:

    It’s actually quite a revealing comment – and tells you how little heed Clegg feels he needs to pay to critics within his own party.

    The Tory Euro-scepticism over the past two decades is almost certainly the reason why Clegg chose the Liberal Democrats and yet in every other respect, he is a Tory. Now that Cameron is in power and has dumped his populist EU bashing tactics, Clegg might as well join them formally. He hints at some kind of contrived ‘spat’ with Cameron for the purpose of a future TV debate… very shallow indeed. Neither of these two matches Brown as a man.

    1. SARGENT CRIP says:

      It matters little if he agrees with camoron
      he votes with him and does what he is told
      who would have thought voting libdem would lead to another war.
      Iagree neither match Brown as a man
      neither does milliband
      he was slightly better speaking against the travesty of a budget
      though there is no wayLabour will win a general election with him at the helm
      we need Balls watch out for the million on the march tomorrow demonstrate against the cuts and against the new condem war!

    2. Tom Wright says:

      All this comment reveals is that the two are at ease with each other.

      Whatever your politics, Brown was not a great man. He did not rescue UK plc from the banks – indeed before Labour were elected he made several speeches touting reforms he didn’t carry out in 11 years in office which would have prevented the disaster. In office he proved complicit with them – appointing senior bankers to the body that was supposed to oversee them.

      His judgement is suspect, his results bogus, and his leadership awful, the only thing he was good at was PR.

  4. Ray Turner says:

    Lol, but no harm done methinks.

  5. Robert Crosby says:

    The Liberal Democrats in this government have no idea… they never learn and are caught out like this time and again and simply still look like opposition politicians sitting on the wrong benches.

  6. Thud says:

    Shows the contempt the lib Dems have for the electorate as they do not beleive in their own manifesto, and are much closer to the tory agenda than they admit to. It is not about the compromise the lib dems keep telling us, it appears that the lib dems are in complete agreement with all the con dem policies.
    The question is why vote lib dem? Why vote for the monkey, better the organ grinder! Bye bye lib dems.

    1. SARGENT CRIP says:

      libdems showed contempt for liberalism when they voted in an obvious tory to lead them
      after that i refused to renew my membership and have been utterly vindicated since!the tories are worse because of the foolish agenda they have set no real liberal could go along with it
      bye bye cons and dems

  7. Peter says:

    Surely the most interesting and newsworthy thing about this whole story was that an event designed to highlight a new regulation and tax lite approach to business should take place in the HQ of a company that, for tax purposes is already located in a Swiss tax haven, and has avoided many millions of pounds of corporation tax since 2009 through this device – something well documented in the print media, and surely of importance to a public trying to put the debate about the budget and who is responsible for our current financial situation in context. Instead we have a ‘Thick of It’ story of trivial gaffes and press minders – fun in a comedy show, gratifyingly self referential for the media, but with a half-life of 5 minutes. When there is such a revealing, and important example of the hypocricy of our ruling elite staring you in the face Gary – why choose to serve up such thin fare?

  8. Saltaire Sam says:

    Apparently the best exchange cam just after Clegg realised his mic was on and took it of.

    Clegg: Well, at least we’ve done the right thing and increased MP’s expenses. That should get some of the bastards off our backs. Where are you off to on holiday this year?

    Cameron: We’ve got a photo op in Scarborough – you know sharing the pain of cut backs, helping the British economy and all that rubbish. Have to stay there a couple of days and I suppose I’ll have to eat fish and chips again – bloody ghastly – but then we’re off to Klosters with George and Mandy. Great wine cellar and wonderful chef. Should be a hoot. Why don’t you join us?

  9. Barbara Robertson says:

    David Cameron has stated that philosophically he is a low tax Conservative.

    His choice of location yesterday was interesting, namely Boots Headquarters in Nottingham.Boots avoids paying British tax by its arrangement with Switzerland.

    Boots is a progressive high quality store. It is a pleasure to shop there. Perhaps the reason for this is, in part, higher expenditure on their services due to not being heavily taxed.

    The British public are the winners with high quality shopping and services.A point of contention is whether Boots should be supporting the deficit reduction in the current economic climate.

    I think I enjoy shopping at Boots.

    1. Saltaire Sam says:

      In contrast, Barbara, I used to be a regular Boots customer but have stopped shopping there in protest that they don’t pay their share of tax. I won’t be shopping at BHS either.

      Paying a fair share of tax is part of being a member of our society yet there seem to be a large section of the waalthier parts of our community – companies and individuals – who don’t think it should apply to them. And it’s so lucrative they can afford to sustain a whole industry to advise them.

      I’m sure the Boots management would be horrified if we shoplifted a percentage of our purchases or if a supplier sent them fewer goods than they charged for, yet that morally is the equivalent to what they are doing.

      They might not be strictly breaking the law but that is only because a seried of governments have been too cowardly to close the loopholes.

    2. Mudplugger says:

      Well put, Sam. I too withhold my custom from a range of businesses and organisations of whose conduct I disapprove – I also take every interface opportunity with those entities to explain why they lose out on my, sometimes significant, spending. (Boots and BHS are on my list too, along with Total, EDF and anything from Israel, amongst others).

      If more people did that, and told them why, maybe they might eventually discover a commercial imperative to change their ways.

  10. Barbara Robertson says:

    Saltaire Sam, You seem to have misinterpreted the point that I was making.

    I was not advocating tax avoidance [nor condoning it]

    I was illustrating what may possibly be achieved when a company paying lower taxes reinvests its profits[or some of them],namely quality services, value and growth.All that is needed in the current economic environment]

    I would rather shop in a quality environment.

  11. vigilanteteen says:

    This slip up is barley worth reporting, the true story here that shouldn’t be overshadowed by a media that feels the need to move move move and sell sell sell is the fact that boots is a major tax avoider. The very idea of the PM and deputy PM being summoned to boots to talk about how in certain areas their going to make some of this tax dodging legit is laughable. yeah we should have lower taxes, smaller state and big, strong and RESPONSIBLE business but these are dreams that can’t possibly be realized until we take care of the economic situation. Of course how you do that without lower taxes encouraging business, smaller state not draining the private sector and then borrowing more, and big business hiring not firing is hard to say. were in a massive fix, and we need a break through innovation or 2 in an area such as clean energy to get us out of it.

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