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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg questioned about his conviction for arson

Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg was interviewed on BBC Radio Nottingham by Alan Clifford yesterday, about the English Riots.

Clifford quizzed Clegg on the 20% reduction in police number, his views on the rioters, and whether Clegg’s own conviction for arson at the age of 16 had given him any insight into their actions.

In an interview with the Daily Mail in 2009, Clegg said of the incident:

‘I’d drunk too much, I was irresponsible, criminal’

He revealed he had set fire, whether by accident or design was left unclear, to a prize collection of cacti. Cole Morton, who carried out the interview wrote:

First, though, I want to know if this readiness to please means he’ll confess to the unvarnished truth about an episode he once passed off as ‘a drunken prank’. My understanding is that it was much more than that. It was arson, actually. He could have gone to jail, ending his chances of a political career before it had even begun. The property he destroyed, deliberately, was priceless. Can we talk about the cactus?

‘Oh, the cactus,’ he says, placing his head in his hands for a moment, then rubbing his face. ‘I just behaved very, very badly. I was on an exchange in Germany and I drank far, far, far too much. I was a teenager. I lost it, really.’

Lost it? He does seem genuinely agitated. ‘What I mean is I was drunk…’ Yes, he said that. What on? ‘They had this beer brewed in monasteries near Munich. Kloster Andechs. Unbelievably strong. Which clearly I couldn’t take.’

Clegg was 16 years old, a public schoolboy abroad. So what happened? ‘Yeah… I, erm, I was at a party and I drifted into a greenhouse with a friend, saw it was full of cacti and lit a match to find our way, as there were no lights on. The flame accidentally touched one of the cacti, which glowed rather beautifully.’

Was it an accident, then? He looks at me. Only at first, it seems. ‘We did that to a fair number of the cacti. Not really knowing what we’d done.’

I can’t help but laugh, at the story and the look on his face, but he objects. He treated this like a joke when, cleverly, he made it public at a fringe meeting in 2007, before the leadership election. He doesn’t think it’s so funny now. ‘No, it’s not… I mean, genuinely.It was the leading collection of cacti in Germany.’

The greenhouse belonged to a professor of botany whose life’s work had been to gather and nurture exotic specimens from all over the world. ‘He’d been to the jungles of Brazil and stuff to find these cacti.’

The boys weren’t arrested, because they ran away. ‘We didn’t know what we were doing. We were teenagers, we’d drunk too much - frankly, we did behave appallingly, irresponsibly, criminally. Next morning, one of the organisers of the exchange rang me up and said, “We know you did this.” I came clean.’

The boys were taken off to see the professor, who was livid, but he was somehow persuaded not to press charges. ‘Instead they created a kind of community punishment for us. Me and the other bloke ended up having to dig communal flower beds in the baking sun. Then I spent the summer with my mum, going round one specialised garden centre after another, trying to replace some of the cacti. Of course they were tiny, and his were all large.’

Read the full article here .
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg warned of riots if Tories elected in 2010

With thanks to Mark MacLachlan

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
After England’s Riots: David Cameron calls for Social Media clampdown

In response to the English Riots, British Prime Minister, David Cameron announced a series initiatives to “do whatever it takes to restore law and order and to rebuild our communities.”

Amongst the suggested plans (including removal of face masks) was the rather disturbing news that Cameron plans to block access to social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Blackberrys.

In a speech to Parliament, Cameron said:

Mr Speaker, everyone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organised via social media.
Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill.

And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them.

So we are working with the Police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.

The Iranian government claim they have a suitcase which can block the internet.

A little closer to home, the French have been punting this idea for quite some time, and earlier this year President Nicolas Sarkozy urged his G8 buddies that it would be a good idea to have:

...private, high-level, inter-governmental talks, in an attempt to work out a global strategy for Internet regulation.

Like the script to some dystopian film, It will be only a matter of time before Western Governments decide to regulate and control the internet on grounds of National Security, Public Safety, or Law and Order.

Which in the short term means, if Cameron gets his way, then it may not be Anonymous that ends blocking Facebook on November 5, but the Conservative government.

With thanks to Niall O’Conghaile

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment