Why Nick Clegg Was Right To Appear On Sunday Brunch

16:57Ciaran McCormick

Deputy Prime-Minister has attracted a storm of criticism for appearing on Channel 4's Sunday Brunch this week. He filled a spot on the programme's celebrity guest list that also included the former X Factor contestant Cher Lloyd. He enjoyed the programme, especially since it must be fun downtime to spend a rare Sunday morning sipping tequila and baking Spanish dishes. However, Peter Bone called the appearance 'bizarre' given the ongoing crisis over flight MH17 in Ukraine. We should not have unrealistic expectations of our leaders that they must devote their entire waking lives to public service. They must capitalise on their public status to bring an authentic form of politics to the people. Not remain elusive and distant. If we have unrealistic expectations that they be automated robots of statesmanship, then they will fail those expectations and critics will use it to beat them down further.


There is some credibility to criticisms of his appearance. Israel's ground offensive against Gaza is costing the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians yet the West is largely silent and timid on the issue, despite worldwide protests. Seeing politicians enjoy fine foods and wine on casual Sunday morning television is likely to jar with viewers despairing about war. The failure of the international community to properly deal with Russian belligerence and annexation in Crimea has led to the current crisis in Ukraine with pro-Russians equipped with arms that have been tragically used.

However, it is perverse to argue that because of the occurrence of a tragedy, politicians should not be able to air other issues or have any fun. It is a fallacy used to shut down many arguments. For example, opponents of gay marriage argued that we should not concentrate on passing it because there are other 'more important' issues to address such as the economy. Like governments, politicians and public figures are capable of multitasking and managing their priorities. The truth is that Nick Clegg is able to work on Ukraine in government and appear on the show. Indeed, he was still working in this appearance, discussing government policy and politics. Few professions would expect their employees to work on a Sunday morning and then get criticised in the national press for that work to not be serious enough. Besides, people just like insulting Nick Clegg.

It is reminiscent of how Stephen Fry was harangued on Twitter earlier this week for enjoying the weather. People felt he should have been more active about the crisis in Gaza, even though he had been vocal about the actions of Israel.
Nick Clegg's appearance should not be criticised for distracting him from other certainly important issues. Indeed, more politicians should go on shows like this. Leaders have a duty to improve the political engagement in this country, which is woefully low thanks to disaffection. If more people are able to see politicians in short sleeves cooking empanadas, then they would be able to relate more to them. Boris Johnson's bewildering popularity probably owes a lot to his amusing performances on the BBC's Have I Got News For You. This is a great programme that often holds to account and satirises its political guests.



Whilst on Sunday Brunch, Clegg brought up this very issue of engagement . He struck out at Prime Minister's Questions for being too raucous and off-putting. He even mooted the idea of online voting, something that I believe is the logical next step forward for British democracy. This was an excellent and worthwhile appearance, if only from an unpopular politician. He has an entire working week to govern the country and work on Ukraine and Gaza and we should allow our politicians the opportunity to let their hair down on softer television.

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