James Forsyth

Clegg’s implicit attack on the Tories

Clegg's implicit attack on the Tories
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Up until a few months ago, David Cameron and Nick Clegg tried to avoid doing big set piece broadcast interviews on the same day. This was driven by a desire to both maximise the coalition’s dominance of the media agenda and to avoid having to give a running commentary on what the other had said. But this rule has gone out of the window as the AV referendum has got rougher and rougher.

So, following on from their both doing separate interviews on Andrew Marr on Sunday, they both were on the Today Programme this morning. Clegg even told Justin Webb to ask Cameron about the split between the two of them on internships when he was on in forty minutes time.  

Clegg isn’t, unlike Cable and Huhne, openly attacking the Tories. But he is doing so implicitly. This morning, for example, he declared that the Liberal Democrats were ‘the progressive party in this arrangement’. He also said that ‘real collective discipline’ was now no longer necessary — a license to his colleagues to keep sniping away at the Tories.  

Cameron, for his part, concentrated his fire on John Humphrys’ questionable understanding of AV. When it came to the coalition, he was keen to suggest that it was business as usual in Whitehall: that what happens on the campaign trail, stays on the campaign trail. But Cameron’s boast that this remains a ‘cohesive and strong government’ does seem at odds with Clegg’s line that it is no longer imperative that there is ‘real collective discipline’ in the Cabinet.