Nick Clegg has put himself in some hot water this morning following these comments regarding what he would have done if he had seen the Nigella Lawson/Charles Saatchi incident/assault:
What a difficult question. I find it so difficult to imagine… I don’t know what happened, I’m like you, I don’t know what happened …
When you see a couple having an argument, most people just assume that the couple will resolve it themselves. If, of course, something descends into outright violence that is something different.
I just don’t know, there was this one photograph, I don’t know whether that was a fleeting thing. I’m really sorry Elizabeth [the name of the caller], I am at a loss to put myself into that position without knowing exactly [what happened].
You are asking me to comment on photographs everybody has seen in the papers – we don’t know if that was a fleeting moment so I’d rather not comment on a set of events that I wasn’t …
Let’s say if a man who is much stronger than the woman is physically threatening the woman then I hope everybodies’ instincts will be to protect the weaker person, to protect the person who is likely to be hurt.
Trying to re-imagine how you might react to very specific events which still are not entirely clear, that is the bit that I feel it is difficult to now comment.
The thing is…no-one knows exactly how they would have reacted. It is something I bang on about all the time. No-one can say they know how they would have reacted to a situation they were not actually involved in. No-one would have known exactly what was going on. You can’t say exactly what you would have seen or heard. So answering a hypothetical with a lack of knowledge is basically taking a stab in the dark at an answer.
Now of course what Nick should have said was ‘I’d have seen and heard everything, stepped in, asked Nigella to go and sit with my wife whilst I restrained Charles and called the police’ but of course that isn’t an honest answer because he would not have known what he would have seen or heard if he was a fellow diner in the restaurant.
Nick has issued the following statement after being lambasted for his comments:
“I completely condemn all forms of domestic violence.
“As I said on the radio, my instinct would always be to try and protect the weaker person, to try and protect the person who otherwise would be hurt.
“But I was asked a very specific question about how I would have reacted to a specific incident which I did not see.
“I said I did not know how I would have reacted to that specific incident because I do not know what happened.
“The point I was making is that I don’t know what other people in the restaurant saw and I don’t want to make a judgement on their reaction.”
Yvette Cooper (who is actually a pretty awesome MP) has jumped in:
Nick Clegg revealed how little he understands violence against women this morning.
Far too often violence against women is dismissed as fleeting or unimportant. Too often public institutions don’t take it seriously enough. Domestic violence is still a hidden crime – and victims suffer or are ignored as a result.
Mr Saatchi has accepted a police caution for assault and the images from the restaurant are disturbing.
Ministers should show they are prepared to condemn this kind of violence against women and that they recognise the seriousness of domestic abuse. Nick Clegg completely failed to do that this morning.
A quite wonderful statement. Doesn’t really connect the truth with the words but in politics we all know that doesn’t matter. She makes out like Nick Clegg thinks violence against women is unimportant, which I think it is pretty clear he doesn’t think. The best bit is Yvette Cooper doesn’t even believe what she just said in a statement. she knows Nick Clegg doesn’t think this but is happy to use anything to further her point. This my friends is why I dislike politics at times. People on purpose telling mis-truths in aid of furthering their viewpoint/cause.
The long and the short of it is thus. No-one can tell you with 100% accuracy how they would have reacted to a hypothetical situation. If you think you can then you are a liar. You can be 99% sure but you can never be 100%. Nick Clegg doesn’t think domestic violence against woman is unimportant. Nick Clegg actually answered the question honestly but the longer you get sucked into the world of politics the more you understand that honesty isn’t a good weapon. Spin, spin, spin is the name of the game and if you can spin it like Shane Warne did to Matt Gatting all those years ago then you’ll be doing just fine.
Sadly this story has the potential to actually blow up thanks to the nature of it but when you actually read his words you’ll see that he was asked a specific, hypothetical question and he couldn’t answer it in the way he should’ve answered it without lying. So he told the truth and that hasn’t helped anybody.
Oh the joys of politics…
The funny thing is my next blog will be about Lib Dem Women…
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