James Forsyth

The Lib Dems’ long-term assault on Labour

The Lib Dems' long-term assault on Labour
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Listening to Nick Clegg’s speech today, there was little doubt which party he’d rather be in coalition with. There were some coded slights at the Tories’ expense—the emphasis on how the Lib Dems had been ‘fighting to keep the NHS safe’ and his commitment that the Human Rights Act was here to stay—but they were nothing compared to the full frontal attacks on Labour. Clegg derided Miliband and Balls as the ‘backroom boys’ before warning the country to ‘never, ever trust Labour with the economy again.’

This line reveals something very important, the Lib Dem leadership believes that the more the economy is in trouble the more important it is that they pin the blame on Labour for its problems. When I asked one close Clegg ally how the party would campaign in 2015 if proper growth had still not returned, I was told that they would spend their time explaining how the coalition had been trying to sought out the catastrophic mess that Labour had left behind. It is hard to see how the party could then go into coalition with Labour after a campaign fought on that basis.