Clegg says he will work with 'man from the moon', but not Brown
Tuesday, 27, Apr 2010 05:40
By Matthew Champion.
Nick Clegg has softened his rhetoric on a potential alliance with Labour but reinforced the prospect of refusing to work with Gordon Brown, as David Cameron switches his attention from the prime minister to the Liberal Democrat leader.
At the weekend Mr Clegg said it would be "preposterous" to expect the electorate to accept Labour in government if the party came third in the popular vote.
But the Lib Dem leader has clarified his comments to insist he was referring the "inexplicable" possibility of Mr Brown remaining in Downing St in such a scenario.
Speaking after his weekend comments appeared to risk alienating the progressive-left vote aghast by the prospect of a Lib Dem/Tory alliance, Mr Clegg said: "I think, if Labour do come third in terms of the number of votes cast, then people would find it inexplicable that Gordon Brown himself could carry on as prime minister.
"As for who I'd work with, I've been very clear - much clearer than David Cameron and Gordon Brown - that I will work with anyone. I will work with a man from the moon, I don't care, with anyone who can deliver the greater fairness that I think people want."
Mr Clegg's comments do nothing to alleviate the roadblocks in the way of a coalition government, with voters unlikely to be comfortable with the prospect of another prime minister who has not won a popular mandate if Labour is forced to oust Mr Brown in favour of leadership contenders Alan Johnson, David Miliband or Ed Balls.
Mr Cameron meanwhile, having the spent the last four and a half years of his Tory leadership preparing to fight Mr Brown at the polls has switched his attention to Mr Clegg just nine days before the election.
The Tory leader said his Lib Dem counterpart was "holding the country to ransom" by demanding electoral reform as a precondition of the support of his MPs to the dominant party in parliament.
Douglas Alexander, Labour's election coordinator, added: "My sense is that Nick Clegg has somewhat overreached himself - maybe intoxicated by the publicity he has received - in getting into the prediction business."
As the latest poll for the Guardian/ICM puts the Tories on 33 peer cent, Lib Dems on 30 per cent and Labour 28 per cent, the Conservatives went into overdrive in their campaign to warn of the dangers of a hung parliament such a vote on May 6th would create.
Shadow chancellor George Osborne said the hung parliament would "paralyse" the economy.
Presenting a party election broadcast featuring a Nick Clegg-look-alike campaigning for the fictional Hung Parliament party, Mr Osborne said: "A vote for the hung parliament party is a vote for politics behind closed doors; indecision and weak government; a paralysed economy; yet another election; and very possibly, waking up on May 7th to find Gordon Brown still in Downing St."
Today all three parties will attempt to move the focus of the campaign back on to policy.
Labour will accuse the Tories and Lib Dems of preparing to cut children's services, the Tories will warn on Britain's broken society and the Lib Dems will promise to put more power into the hands of nurses in the NHS.