UK & World News
Nick Clegg: Coalition Best For Economic Recovery
A majority government led by the Conservatives or Labour after the 2015 general election would result in "the wrong kind of recovery" for the UK economy, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said.
An outright victory for Ed Miliband's Labour Party would wreck the recovery, while David Cameron's Tories would not have the same commitment to fairness that the Lib Dems have brought to the coalition, he said.
Speaking at his party's annual conference in Glasgow, the Deputy Prime Minister said that another coalition government would be the best outcome for the country because it would enable his party to act as a restraining influence on the larger parties of the left and right.
The sacrifices of the past few years would be "squandered" by a single-party government of either of the larger parties, he said.
"Our message to the British people in 2015 will be essentially this: We will say 'We've done very good things in Government - let us finish the job, but finish the job fairly'," Mr Clegg told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show.
"There are millions of people in this country who've made huge sacrifices and we've gone through this very difficult time over the last two or three years. That would be squandered if you have a single-party government of either Labour or Conservatives in 2015.
"It is my genuine belief that if we go back to the bad old days, not of coalition or balanced politics, but of either the left or the right dominating government on their own, you will get a recovery which is neither fair nor sustainable.
"I think Labour would wreck the recovery, and under the Conservatives - who don't have the same commitment to fairness which we do - you would get the wrong kind of recovery."
His message was echoed by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, who told Sky News' Murnaghan programme: "As the Labour Party is pulled off leftwards by the unions, and the Tory Party is pulled off rightwards by some of their backbenchers - you really need the Liberal Democrats in the mix - keep this country anchored in the centre ground."
He said Labour was facing "huge challenges on its credibility on the economy" and that the party had "a lot of growing up to do" on the issue "to be in anyway convincing to the British people".
"I don't think you could trust a majority Labour government with the economy, but nor do I think you could trust a majority Conservative government to keep our society fair," Mr Alexander said.
Neither politician would be drawn on which party they would prefer to form a coalition government with.
Mr Clegg said that there had so far been no discussions with the Conservatives about whether the two parties would continue their coalition in the event of a hung Parliament.
He indicated that a further rise in the £10,000 income tax threshold would be one of the conditions for the Lib Dems forming another coalition, and that his party would put at the heart of its next manifesto a further upgrading to take everyone on the minimum wage out of income tax altogether.
Mr Clegg said whichever party gained the "clearest mandate, the most votes and the most seats" at the election had the democratic right to attempt to form a government.
Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown said the coalition had proved that parties that do not like each other could still govern together well in the national interest.
He told The Observer: "It has held together better, better than we expected. Both sides don't like each other but they nevertheless trust each other."