‘THE Lib Dem party is too male and too white,’ Nick Clegg has admitted at a gruelling Q&A session ahead of the Lib Dem conference this weekend.
The Deputy Prime Minister made the declaration to a roomful of students at Notre Dame School this morning after one student labelled politicians an ‘elite’ group.
“I agree completely that if we want political parties to represent modern Britain, then we have to represent that within ourselves which, at the moment, we do not,” said Mr Clegg.
The MP for Sheffield Hallamshire also came under fire on hot button topics including students fees and EMA cuts.
Mr Clegg defended the changes by explaining that he was making the best of a difficult situation.
“We didn’t win the election and so there had to be compromises,” he reminded the students.
“Is it what I would have done as Prime Minister? No. Do I think it’s a fair system and superior to the one we have now? Yes.”
Asked what he would do differently if he were elected Prime Minister in three years time, he responded: “I’m still in enough trouble over the last manifesto, I’m not going to start making declarations about the next one before we’ve even started writing it.”
Speaking about the controversial cuts, Mr Clegg said: “I’m not here trying to balance the books for the hell of it, I want to rid this country of this tremendous black cloud of debt.
“I don’t apologise for that and, though I realise Labour are having a lot of fun at our expense, I hope in time the results will speak for themselves.”
16-year-old Joseph Calverley is intending to go to university in two years and took the opportunity to grill the Deputy PM about student fees: “He did explain about the fees and about something called Graduate Tax but I didn’t really follow it,” Joseph told The Star,
“It would be good to hear some of the issues and their solutions from him broken down more clearly.
“On the whole he seemed to anticipate a lot of what we were going to ask him and had answers ready which I thought was good.”
Mr Clegg also touched on the situation in Libya, labelling Colonel Gadaffi a ‘tyrant’ and saying Europe had a responsibility to intervene where human rights were being abused.
“Whatever we do, we will act lawfully. We will not ignore and wriggle through international law like the last government did in Iraq.
“The UK won’t act alone, we’re not about to charge off on a unilateral military adventure to Libya, it’s about what Europe decides but it would be wrong of us to turn our backs on the brutality.”
Don’t forget to check back regularly throughout the weekend for our minute-by-minute updates on what’s happening in the city centre as the conference and protests get underway.