Above: Nick Clegg in a production of Beckett’s Waiting for Goliath, featuring Sir Ian McKellen.

Nick Clegg – likely very soon to be the kingmaker of David Cameron and the kingkiller of Gordon Brown – is also evidently the most culturally interested of the three.


In a Guardian q&a his answer to when and why he last cried: “Recently, listening to music in the car.”

Clegg loves piano and German lieder. His formidable playist for BBC3’s Private Passions – the elite version of Desert Island Discs – look like this:

M Berkeley The Wakeful Poet (Music from Chaucer)
Beaux-Arts Brass Quintet

Schubert Impromptu E flat minor
Alfred Brendel (piano)

Mozart Laudate Dominum (from the Vesperae solennes de Confessore, K339)
Kiri Te Kanawa (soprano)

Chopin Piano Concerto no 2 in F minor (2nd movement, Larghetto)
Valdimir Ashkenazy (piano)

Schubert Erlkönig
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano)

Chopin Waltz in A Minor, op posth
Claudio Arrau (piano)

Richard Strauss Beim Schlafengehen (No 3 from Four Last Songs)
Elizabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano)


The living person he most admires: “ JM Coetzee – he writes with a simplicity which lays bare what really matters.”

Clegg’s favourite book is Coetzee’s Life & Times Of Michael K.

His favourite recent film is the French Entre les Murs.


In an article for The Stage he writes, “I’ve never made it a secret that I enjoy the theatre, and when I was younger I had the privilege of performing alongside others who have since gone on to lead very successful acting careers. I, on the other hand, went into politics and have appeared three times in panto in Sheffield…’

We know his favourite play is Backett Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. He writes:

I am grateful to those writers who have made it easy to go back to them, night after night, year after year. They are the greats, and Samuel Beckett is one of them. My first encounter with Beckett was when I was studying in Minnesota and I acted in a student production of Krapp’s Last Tape.

Since then I must have read Waiting for Godot – of course – a hundred times. Every time I go back to Beckett he seems more subversive, not less; his works make me feel more uncomfortable than they did before. The unsettling idea, most explicit in Godot, that life is habit – that it is all just a series of motions devoid of meaning – never gets any easier.

As superstar blogger Andrew Sullivan says: “Nick Clegg’s favorite author is Samuel Beckett! Somehow I cannot imagine a presidential candidate in the US unloading this five days before voting”. Or, as  Michael Tomasky put it: “You British folks understand, don’t you, that if an American presidential candidate said his hero was Samuel Beckett, he’d be finished. I mean totally finished. He couldn’t even get away with an American equivalent. It’d be one thing for a US pol to say Mark Twain. That’s about the only serious writer in history a pol could name and survive.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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