“I’m chuffed to bits to finally get this through,” Nick Clegg says…

Great profile of Nick Clegg in the Evening Standard yesterday:

“I’m chuffed to bits to finally get this through,” Nick Clegg says of his radical reform of paternity leave.

“It’s something I’ve been campaigning for all my political life.” The Deputy Prime Minister, 45, is sitting on a large cream sofa in the Cabinet Office, looking triumphant. He is holding a cup of tea and wearing a tie the colour of buttercups.

A tie? A standard piece of clothing you might think… save that there’s no tie in the photo (the print edition holds the answer to that one). On to more serious stuff:

In the past, Clegg has been straight-talking and honest — qualities that journalists love and spin doctors hate. Today he is shadowed by two aides with a faintly menacing air about them.

Extensive research (well, sending a tweet) has tried to identify these menacers:

But back to policy:

Clegg says he would have taken paternity leave even further and given fathers a block of “take it or lose it” time off but for the “fragile state” of the economy. “Business,” he explains, “is understandably anxious about too many changes at once.”

The economy is also the reason Clegg hasn’t been able to do more about affordable childcare. “If we can find some extra money,” he says, “and there aren’t billions of pounds lying around, I’ll put delivering affordable, good-quality childcare high up on the list.”

He has, he points out, addressed this in another, cheaper, way. Employees can now officially ask for flexitime so that working grandparents, for example, can shift their hours around “to help out with grandchildren”.

It comes as little surprise to hear that Clegg’s policy-making on family dynamics is heavily influenced by personal experience.

For more on that, read the full interview with Nick Clegg here.

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