Who Voted For The Arsonist?

The Liberal leader Nick Clegg has been revealed to be an arsonist, is it cheeky for his followers to take pics  like this?

“There are few politicians with a responsibility for law and order who have a conviction for arson. Fewer arsonists still run for the leadership of their party. But Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, is the baby-faced exception that proves the rule.”

“As a 16-year-old exchange student in Germany, he secured a minor criminal conviction for arson after he and a friend “torched two greenhouses of cacti belonging to a professor”. The local newspaper put the story on its front page and young Clegg was given community service. The angry professor asked him, “How would you like it if I killed your cat?”, and Clegg spent a summer looking for replacements for the private collection of Germany’s foremost cactus collector.”

‘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.’
“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.’
Drugs? I’ve always cast a veil over that
“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.’

‘We met some deeply fashionable person who said come to a party, it’ll be fancy dress. We went off and bought outfits [of women] from The Simpsons, huge wigs, thinking it would be really outlandish.’ Big mistake. ‘We jumped into this party to find that, of course, the last thing fashionable people in New York are going to do is make a fool of themselves. All they did was put a little beauty spot on or something. We were these two English idiots. It was immensely embarrassing.’

Maybe then, but it’s funny now. Clegg laughs easily. It’s a useful point of difference, after all. Can you imagine David Cameron in a dress? “

He has also urged the part-privatisation of the Royal Mail and argued that “breaking up the NHS is exactly what you need to do to make it a more responsive service”.

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Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 12:24 am  Leave a Comment  

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