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Self-serving Lib Dems

Nick Clegg has reacted angrily to Unite leader Len McCluskey's advice to Ed Miliband

Nick Clegg has reacted angrily to Unite leader Len McCluskey's advice to Ed Miliband to rule out any government coalition with the Liberal Democrats after next year's general election.

The Liberal Democrat leader regards the possibility of Labour or the Tories heading a minority government as "preposterous."

He derides the McCluskey position as "the last gasp of the assumption from the two bigger parties that somehow they have got a right to run things."

In the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies, "he would do, wouldn't he?"

Far from McCluskey embodying the idea that Labour, without a majority, would decide how the country is governed rather than the people of Britain, his position would represent an empowerment of MPs rather than an unprincipled stitch-up with the Tories that brought Clegg the deputy premiership.

While a decisive Labour majority offers the best antidote to the current conservative coalition, even a minority Labour administration could offer a clear alternative to the present anti-working-class agenda.

The greatest incentive to refuse to vote that Labour could offer sceptical voters is to champion coalition or even leave open the possibility of Ed Miliband climbing into bed with Clegg and his Orange Book neoliberal fanatics.

There is already a widespread popular perception that all politicians are the same and only in it for themselves.

Given the near universal parliamentary backing for overseas wars, cuts in crucial services, attacks on pensions, pay freeze on public-sector pay and support for anti-union legislation, together with expenses and lobbying scandals, it's an easy conclusion to draw.

The stench of Liberal Democrat opportunism and duplicity over the "austerity agenda" deal cooked up with the Tories still reeks in the nostrils of most voters.

Most Tory voters are not disgusted by the actions of their ministers. They fully support attacks on the living standards of the poor as a means of enriching still further the wealthy elite.

It's the very reason why the Tory Party exists. The Liberal Democrats claimed to be different.

From the onset they betrayed their manifesto pledge on student tuition fees.

They followed that up with providing the parliamentary majority for a cut in the highest rate of income tax, imposing the bedroom tax and pushing through the Death of the NHS Act, better known as the Health and Social Care Act.

Encouraging voters to believe that Labour is inclined to share office with this unprincipled bunch would be an albatross round Miliband's neck.

Clegg's bluster about bigger parties' supposed desire to govern without a majority masks his longing for perpetual hung parliaments in which his outfit would be a coalition ever-present.

The Liberal Democrats' model must be their German sister party, the Free Democrat Party, which consistently polled single-figure totals but was an almost permanent component of governments, led by either Christian Democrats (CDU) or Social Democrats (SDP), for decades.

The worst aspect of the interchangeability of governing coalition parties, including Germany's so-called "grand coalition" of CDU and SDP, is that it confirms in voters' minds that political differences are marginal.

If Miliband is happy to reinforce this perception, all he has to do is fail to rule out coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

His main task following that is to respond to the demands for justice given expression in opinion polls, especially on public ownership of natural monopolies, and ensure that voters are offered a real radical choice next year.

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