Clegg: ‘Don’t let this moment slip’

By Ian Dunt

Nick Clegg has urged voters not to let this “once-in-a-generation” chance for political change slip away.

In an attempt to firm up his level of support ahead of voting day, Mr Clegg told the Independent on Sunday: “Let’s not let this moment slip. Let’s not let this extraordinary once-in-a-generation opportunity go by. It doesn’t come along that often.

“There is the chance to resettle things in a new way. It is very unusual and I just don’t want people to be bamboozled or bullied or frightened by the other parties into saying they cannot take a chance on big change this time. That is the main message.

“Let us not squander this once-in-a-generation chance – because it is a once-in-a-generation chance.”

The Lib Dem leader has seen his remarkable surge in the polls start to lose momentum in recent days, with some polls putting him back in third place.

But analysts are undecided about what the party’s poll performance will translate into on election day. The vote could be lower than expected, given that the people who say they will vote Lib Dem are also the least likely to vote. On the other hand, with voter intentions so volatile, and anger over expenses still fresh, the Lib Dems could perform better on Thursday than current polling suggests.

Mr Clegg criticised the Tory campaign as a glorified PR operation, and mocked the ‘big society’ idea which framed the beginning of the Conservative campaign.

“What is this big society? It is a big society with a price tag attached,” he said.

“It’s a bit like inviting someone to a party in a pub and find that it’s your card behind the bar paying for everyone’s drinks.

“What is emerging is what has always been there, which is a well-oiled PR machine, but basically it’s disguising fake change. It’s hollow. There’s nothing in it.

“For a long time they thought they could waft into No 10 no questions asked, with a sense of entitlement to govern the country again.”

Labour also came in for attack, although Mr Clegg suggested the party needed to go through a ‘dark night of the soul’ before it could become an effective electoral force again.

“Regardless of the outcome of the general election, there is a real existential crisis for the Labour party,” he said.

“They’ve really got to go right back to fundamentals: what on earth is the point of the Labour party in these changed circumstances? What kind of brand of progressive politics does Labour possess in terms of the battle of ideas?”

Britain goes to the polls on Thursday, marking the end of one of the most surprising and volatile election campaigns in modern British history. Many analysts believe Mr Clegg’s main goal is now to come second in the popular vote, which would give him the mandate to demand electoral reform from whoever he decides to go into coalition with in the case of a hung parliament.