Harriet Harman

Labour Member of Parliament for Camberwell & Peckham

Challenging Nick Clegg at Deputy Prime Ministers Questions

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Today I challenged Nick Clegg on his claim to be “more anti-establishment” than before he was in Government. Without the Lib Dems the Tories would not have been able to implement policies including the bedroom tax, increasing tuition fees and the tax cut for millionaires.

Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab): In an interview last week the Deputy Prime Minister pronounced that

“the way in which politics works is bust”

and that “Westminster is a joke”. When he said that, was he referring to himself?

The Deputy Prime Minister: I wonder what answer I should give to that. No, of course not.

Ms Harman: He went on in that interview to say that he is now “more anti-establishment” than he was five years ago. Were those the same five years in which he took the ministerial car, the ministerial salary and the Tory Whip? Were they the same five years in which he trebled tuition fees, imposed the bedroom tax, put up VAT and cut taxes for millionaires? However he describes himself, the only thing people in this country will remember him for is giving a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Yes, Prime Minister.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I cannot blame the right hon. and learned Lady; she certainly finished in the style to which we have all been accustomed for the last five years by reading out pre-rehearsed questions. I think that the era of single-party government in this country is over. I know she does not like that idea and that the establishment parties—those Members sitting both behind me and in front of me—do not like it either, but I think it is over. This coalition Government have, in very difficult circumstances, presided over what is now the fastest growing economy in the developed world, with more people in work than ever before, and more women in work than ever before, after the absolute economic mess she bequeathed us. That is quite an achievement.

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