Nick Clegg takes on Gillian Duffy

The ruiner of prime ministers: Gillian Duffy gave Nick Clegg a tough time today
The ruiner of prime ministers: Gillian Duffy gave Nick Clegg a tough time today

By Ian Dunt

Nick Clegg faced an interrogator who prompts more fear than Jeremy Paxman today, when he came face-to-face with Gillian Duffy.

The Rochdale pensioner, who single-handedly ended Gordon Brown's hopes of winning the general election in the infamous 'bigot-gate' debacle last year, expressed disappointment with Mr Clegg's decision to enter coalition with the Conservatives.

"Can you honestly tell me now, look me now and tell me that you're quite happy with all these policies what have gone wrong for your party?" she asked the deputy prime minister.


Mr Clegg replied: "I'll tell you what, whoever was in power now, whether it was Labour, would have to make difficult decisions.

"I'll tell you, if anyone thinks, if anyone's telling you from the Labour party that somehow there's a magic wand solution and we can do this without any controversy, they're frankly fibbing to you, Labour's own policy..."

At that point Ms Duffy interrupted, Mr Clegg, saying: "I'm asking about your policies."
After a short spell in which Mr Clegg made the case for reducing the deficit, Ms Duffy cut the deputy prime minister down with a sly observation.

"I've just been listening to you on the television and I have listened to you on the radio and that's just the same speech you gave out about an hour ago," she said.

"I think it's really important though," Mr Clegg replied.

Ms Duffy continued: "To me, I'm just asking you are you happy with what's happening now with this coalition government?

"Liberal policies was a lot like Labour policies years and years ago."

Mr Clegg reacted negatively to that suggestion, saying: "No, no, no, no."

Ms Duffy told reporters afterwards: "Let's face it, it's all gone wrong."

The pensioner was briefly the centre of domestic political news coverage last year when Mr Brown was overheard calling her a bigot following a discussion on immigration.

The ensuing media circus, which saw Mr Brown slump defeated in a radio station as he was forced to hear his own comment, was widely perceived to have finally ended his hopes of remaining prime minister.

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