This morning on Radio 4 Britain's deputy prime minister - the man who refuses to even review let alone amend the smoking ban - will reveal that his preferred luxury item on a desert island would be ... a stash of cigarettes. You couldn't make it up.
What is remarkable about this revelation is that it will have been thought through extremely carefully not just by Clegg but, I suspect, by a whole team of advisers. (Remember the trouble the Lib Dem leader got into when Piers Morgan persuaded him, in an interview, to reveal how many women he had slept with?)
My guess is that the message here is: Nick Clegg, the man you can trust because he tells the truth, warts and all. Then again, Clegg strikes me as the type of man who wants to be seen as quite cool and trendy.
Perhaps it's best not to over analyse his response. Let's just be grateful that in 2010 the deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom isn't afraid to broadcast the fact that he enjoys smoking. If only he demonstrated a bit more empathy for his fellow smokers who would like to light up not on a desert island but in some pubs and clubs.
Desert Island Discs with Nick Clegg will be broadcast at 11:15 this morning and 09:00 on Friday October 29. The BBC has the story HERE.
PS. This explains the phone call I got from the Sunday Times late yesterday afternoon asking if there are any other members of the Cabinet, apart from Clegg, Ken Clarke and Andrew Mitchell (cigars, apparently) who smoke. Truth is, I don't know.
H/T Rose W
See also Nick Clegg's smoking gun (Guardian):
And so maybe there is something shrewd about Clegg's confession. It looks as though he's not reading from the script, but maybe he's smartly aligning himself with the disaffected. There is something endearing about politicians who smoke: it shows they are human, and as such subject to human failings, and take the responsibility of high office seriously indeed ...
We like off-message politicians: they're rare these days ... Clegg's lustre has dimmed these days, so to break this last taboo, to admit in public that one smokes – why, one wonders, is this such a no-no, considering the habit is still, just about, legal? – could be seen as a last-ditch appeal to voters not to dismiss him as a disastrous caretaker of the Liberal tradition. In fact, when you consider his position, it's a miracle he's not an eighty-a-day man.