Clegg pushes Tories away

By staff

Nick Clegg undermined the prospect of a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition in a hung parliament, by turning his electoral sights on David Cameron’s party.

The Lib Dem leader, who has begun describing the campaign as a “two-horse race” between his party and the Tories, told the Guardian newspaper that the Conservatives were “the party of entrenched vested interests of politics”.

“I think if you look at the debate last night, there is just a gulf between what David Cameron stands for and what I stand for – in terms of values, in terms of internationalism, in terms of fairness, in terms of progressive tax reform, in terms of political reform, in terms of simply living in denial, as does Labour, about a major problem of their creation in the immigration system,” he said.

Mr Clegg said he accepted Roy Jenkins’ analysis that Labour and the Lib Dems had always been “two wings” of a progressive tradition, before again underlining the differences between his party and the Conservatives.

“There is a gulf in values between myself and David Cameron,” he added.

“They have no progressive reform agenda at all – only an unbearable sense of entitlement that it’s just their time to govern.”

Mr Clegg said he believed Conservative opposition to electoral reform could prove their “biggest strategic error” in one of the most unpredictable general election campaigns of modern times.

“In an election where the tectonic plates are moving so quickly and so radically, people have got to go with their gut instincts,” he urged.

“Once in a while there are elections where people should be released to do what they want, and I think this is one of those elections – I really do.”

The Lib Dems are unlikely to finish anything other than third in the number of seats won, even if they finish second in terms of overall vote share.

“I personally think both the Tories and Labour face profound crises of identity because they are both based on assumptions of mass support that have now evaporated,” Mr Clegg said.

“The arrogance of both the Conservative and Labour party that it’s somehow their birthright to speak on behalf of millions of people. That’s gone.”