Tory poodle Nick Clegg bared his tiny teeth and yapped out a threat of new attacks on pensioners and the poor yesterday.
The Deputy Prime Minister claimed that his crumbling Lib Dem Party had "moved toward the centre" of British politics and would stay in government to influence future spending cuts.
He boasted that the Lib Dems had stopped "more extreme reforms" to welfare benefits, limiting the latest cuts to £3.8 billion instead of the £10bn originally suggested.
But then he spoke enthusiastically of an impending "next wave of welfare reform," involving axing universal benefits paid to what he termed "the wealthiest pensioners."
This was in line with his continuing campaign to attack pensioner bus passes by introducing a means test.
Within minutes of Mr Clegg's threat, a Downing Street spokesman issued a contradictory statement claiming that Prime Minister David Cameron would stick to his pledge "to protect pensioner benefits" up to the next election.
Mr Clegg proclaimed with a straight face to his CentreForum audience that his Lib Dem Party, which has slumped to below 10 per cent in opinion polls, had "been on a journey."
He declared: "It's worth pausing for a moment and making a point about the immediate future of my party."
Choosing to go into opposition instead of staying in government would be "a dereliction of duty," added the Lib Dem leader.
"Our journey has been toward the centre ground, not away from it," he claimed.
Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman accused Mr Clegg of trying every trick in the book to try to distance himself from his government's record.
"What we really should be hearing from Nick Clegg is a proper apology," she said.