Peter Hoskin

Nick Clegg: out of love with the Tories?

Nick Clegg: out of love with the Tories?
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The thing that jumps out from Nick Clegg's speech on families today is how aggressively - if, ultimately, unconvincingly - it sets about attacking the Tories.  Yes, he also criticises Labour - but the attack on the Tories comes first and is more bitter in tone.  Here's a snippet:

"David Cameron’s social policy is focused almost obsessively on marriage, cajoling people to conform to a single view of what a happy couple should look like.

The Conservatives want marriage incentives in the tax system.

And they may adopt Iain Duncan Smith’s proposals to put in place more legal roadblocks to divorce.

This is both bizarre and patronising.

Do they really imagine people will take the lifelong commitment of marriage – or the awful decision of divorce – because of £20 a week?"

Why raise this now - after all, isn't it part of Clegg's job to lay into his political opponents?  Well, yes.  But it's striking just how much more forceful his attacks on Cameron and Co. have become over the past few weeks.  Where he once broadly made noises of support for the Tories - or saved his worse for Gordon Brown - he has increasingly used recent PMQs to lay into their plans on the public finances.  He seems to have sharpened his anti-Tory rhetoric outside of the Commons too.

Could it be a new Lib Dem electoral strategy?  Could there be nothing in it?  Or is Clegg just peeved that Cameron gatecrashed his photo-opp with Joanna Lumley?  With persistent speculation that we may see a hung Parliament after the next election, it's worth keeping an eye on.