Clegg: ‘No’ belief in God

Less than two days into the Lib Dem leadership, and Nick Clegg has won most media attention for his comments on religion rather than his policy proposals.

Asked on BBC Radio Five if he believed in God, Mr Clegg replied “no”, before going on to release a statement stressing his respect for religious beliefs.

Mr Clegg said: “I have enormous respect for people who have religious faith. I’m married to a Catholic and am committed to bring my children up as Catholics.

He added: “The last thing I would do when talking or thinking about religion is approach it with a closed heart or mind.”

The new Liberal Democrat leader refused to say if he had ever taken illegal drugs, insisting the “one thing” he agrees with David Cameron on is the right to a private life before entering politics.

Launching his leadership on a wafer-thin mandate, Mr Clegg said he would put social justice at the heart of his agenda.

The new Liberal Democrat leader said: “I will fight for a society where everyone gets a fair chance in life, and no one is condemned by the circumstances of their birth.

“Education has got to be front and centre of Britain’s agenda if we’re going to make that happen. So I will raise funding for the poorest children to the levels in private schools.

“And every family must be free from poverty, and feel they have a voice, and a stake, in Britain today. I am committed to the target of ending child poverty by 2020 – that must be a key aim of our policy development.

“That requires a new kind of politics – a people” politics. If politics is going to solve the problems of people’s everyday lives, we need to listen to people, and act on what they say.

Yesterday, Mr Clegg appointed the 59-year-old musician Brian Eno to advise the Liberal Democrats on youth issues.

As part of his promise to take politics out of Westminster, the pair yesterday visited a sixth form centre in Rotherhite, south London.