Call Clegg: '29 minutes of castigation and one minute of humour'

Nick Clegg's radio phone-in has polarised opinion among comms people while offering the media a new joke at the Deputy Prime Minister's expense.

Nick Clegg: Radio phone-in on LBC
Nick Clegg: Radio phone-in on LBC

The Liberal Democrat leader conducted his first ‘Call Clegg’ show for London radio station LBC yesterday morning, with the station’s website offering a live video stream.

‘The show was 29 minutes of castigation and one minute of humour,’ said James Tyrell, owner of Insight Public Affairs.

‘It smacks a bit of desperation to be liked, and it’s debateable how much the format of a phone-in will allow him to convey what the party has been able to achieve.

‘Make no mistake, LBC managed to control the calls in a way which helped achieve better headlines, which were always going to be more about the negative than the positive.’

There was however an upside, Tyrell believed, in the humour of Clegg when dealing with a question about whether he had ever worn a onesie.

‘The raising of the onesie issue was a trivial one but was a bit of a gift for Clegg – it was a nice way to end the programme and what better way to show you’re in touch with modern popular culture?’

After the show it emerged that the man who posed the question about the onesie was a Liberal Democrat activist.

Lib Dem press and broadcast officer Valerie Kirwan professed to be happy with the outcome of the show, calling it ‘a fair interview’.

‘He answered the questions, which was the most important thing, and he answered them honestly,’ she said.

Ahead of the show, Hanover director Gavin Megaw called Clegg’s approach of speaking directly to voters instead of through the prism of the newspapers ‘sensible’.

‘It demonstrates transparency, and that he is willing to take risks to prove he is misunderstood – LBC’s listenership are certainly not his core supporters. However, within a few weeks the media will lose interest in the act of engaging with the public in this manner, instead covering his shows only when he has said something controversial or new.’

Megaw was gentler on Clegg than Four Communications CEO Nan Williams, who wrote in our Hit or Miss section before the show aired: ‘Unfortunately, Clegg's position in the eyes of the public is far too deeply entrenched. He has lost trust for good because of early failed promises. Listeners who phone in will delight in reminding us of that. And the other parties will be busy lining up their supporters to phone in.

'The real winner, of course, is LBC, which has raised its profile and will undoubtedly get more listeners.

'So it's a hit for LBC, but certainly not for Clegg.'

Read on for more reaction from online media to Clegg’s show:


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