Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said it was ‘up to voters’ to decide whether his political career is dead in The Star’s exclusive election debate.
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The Sheffield Hallam MP went head-to-head with his rival candidates - who were meeting him for the first time -in front of students at Bradfield School yesterday.
He was asked if the death knell for his political career’ could be heard amid predictions he will lose his role as Deputy Prime Minister, leader of the Liberal Democrats and as MP given that latest polls suggested Labour was ahead. Sheffield readers also said he had failed to stand up for Sheffield.
“I think the last thing you should ask politicians is to start predicting their own future, that’s for the voters to decide on May 7”, he said.
The six candidates clashed over issues from policing to immigration - but most strongly on Government austerity.
Independent candidate Carlton Reeve said it was ‘nonsense’ that the economic crisis was caused by national debt and people should not fall for the Government’s ‘lies.’
Nick Clegg retaliated by saying the country was pouring £50bn in interest payments ‘down the drain every year’ and the next generation shouldn’t have to pick up the tab.
Labour’s Oliver Coppard said Sheffield people were more than £1,000 a year worse off than they were in 2010 and the Government was ‘giving a tax cut to millionaires’ - which Clegg refuted, saying ‘ you really can’t tell people things that are not true.’
Conservative Stephen Castens, standing in for Hallam candidate Ian Walker, said the country could not provide the same services as others because of its debt - but Green Peter Garbutt said cuts were being made to bring down Government spending when it could be increased.
The ‘ghost’ of tuition fees reared with a question from Bradfield student Jack Dargan. Clegg he accepted it was ‘very controversial’ and he had apologised ‘musically no less’. But he said that it was ‘perfectly affordable’ for anyone to go to university under the new system.
I think the last thing you should ask politicians is to start predicting their own future, that’s for the voters to decide on May 7Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg