'He sneers': Nick Clegg takes aim at Jeremy Paxman

Paxman vs Brand: Interview on voting, revolution and apathy went viral
Paxman vs Brand: Interview on voting, revolution and apathy went viral
Ian Dunt By

Nick Clegg took aim at Jeremy Paxman today, after the Newsnight presenter admitted he did not vote in the last election.

The row comes after a protracted debate over the BBC's interview with actor Russell Brand, who he berated for never voting before himself admitting he did not vote in the 2010 election.

"He gets paid near on a million pounds, lives by talking about politics but sneers about politics," Clegg said today during his weekly LBC phone-in show.

The Paxman-Brand interview, which went viral and triggered a debate about political apathy and voting, saw Paxman say to the actor: "If you can’t be arsed to vote, why should we be arsed to listen to your political point of view?"

But in an interview with the Radio Times, Paxman later said: "I think part of Russell Brand’s diagnosis is right. There is a huge sense of disillusion out there.

"Russell Brand has never voted, because he finds the process irrelevant. I can understand that: the whole green-bench pantomime in Westminster looks a remote and self-important echo-chamber. But it is all we have.

"At the next election we shall have a choice between the people who've given us five years of austerity, the people who left us this mess, and the people who signed public pledges that they wouldn't raise student fees, and then did so - the most blatant lie in recent political history.

"It won't be a bombshell if very large numbers of the electorate simply don't bother to vote. People are sick of the tawdry pretences."

He added: "In one recent election, I decided not to vote, because I thought the choice so unappetising.

"By the time the polls had closed and it was too late to take part, I was feeling really uncomfortable: the person who chooses not to vote - cannot even be bothered to write 'none of the above' on a ballot paper - disqualifies himself from passing any comment at all."

Brand had argued that voting in general elections is a sign of tacit consent to the current system, which failed to represent the interests of the public.


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