David Blackburn

Clegg blows a golden opportunity

Clegg blows a golden opportunity
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Nick Clegg won't get many opportunities to sell himself to voters and he has just been demolished on the Today programme. All things to all men, Clegg was all over the place. He couldn't give an exact answer when questioned about the size of the deficit, and the Lib Dems' shifting position on the depth of cuts was exposed once again, recalling his autumn wobble on 'savage cuts'. He also refused to rule out a VAT rise. Similarly, he could not expand on his plans for parliamentary reform beyond labels such as 'radicalism', 'renewal' and 'the old politics'.

Caught between defending himself from the Tories and attacking Labour, Clegg panicked. The Lib Dems oppose Trident, surely? He said that he was in favour of a multilateral deterrent but that he "didn't really know" what would replace the "extortionate" Trident programme. Similarly, the Lib Dems are pro-Europe and favoured Britain's entry into the euro. Or so I thought. Clegg admitted that euro-linked interest rates would have crippled Britain - Britain would be begging Angela Merkel for a bailout if Clegg and Cable had been in government.

I can't recall the Liberals being scutinised to this extent. In an interview on GMTV this morning, Sarah Teather did not rule out a coalition with Gordon Brown, which is at odds with Huhne and Clegg, who hold Brown personally responsible for the last 13 years of failure. The possibility of a hung parliament has upped the heat on the Lib Dems and they are wilting. It will be interesting to see if Vince Cable gets the same treatment.