Chaos in Westminster as Clegg addresses protestors

By Ian Dunt

There were chaotic scenes in Westminster this afternoon when democracy activists surrounded a building with Nick Clegg inside to demand a meeting.

Protestors gathered to call for a meeting with the Lib Dem leader so they could demand electoral reform – a key plank of the party’s demands during talks on a partnership with Labour or the Lib Dems.

Police said 1,000 activists had attended, although witnesses on the scene thought the numbers were slightly higher.

Chants of ‘We want to see Nick’ echoed around the Local Government building in which Mr Clegg was discussing coalition plans with his MPs ahead of further talks with the Tories tomorrow.

Other chants included “you serve us” and demands of “don’t sell out”.

“I never thought in my wildest imaginations that central London would have a thousand protestors protesting for proportional representation,” Mr Clegg said when he eventually emerged from the building, to deafening approval from the crowd.

“Take it from me reforming politics is one of the reasons I went into politics. I genuinely believe it is in the national interest for us to use this opportunity to usher in a new politics.

“I take your petition in the spirit in which I’m sure you meant to deliver it – the spirit of change. In return I would ask you to do what you do so well here today, in every single street in our country, to continue your campaign for a new politics.”

The protest will be warmly welcomed among Liberal Democrat officials, as it gives weight to the idea that the public mood has finally turned against the first-past-the-post system.

With electoral reform at the heart of any coalition deal, today’s noisy protest will go some way towards strengthening Mr Clegg’s hand in his talks with Tory leader David Cameron.