Nick Clegg is ready to do a deal with anyone. He has told supporters that no party will win the election outright and the Liberal Democrats would offer “a heart to a Conservative government and a brain to a Labour government”. The Deputy Prime Minister also said that “every Liberal Democrat MP is a barrier between Nigel Farage and Alex Salmond and the door to Number 10 Downing Street.”
Mr Clegg claimed his party would be the “rock of stability” in any future coalition. He then said that while David Cameron or Ed Miliband would be the next prime minister, everyone knew they would be unable to govern on their own.
His comments came as part of the Liberal Democrat manifesto launch in Battersea. The party had hoped to set themselves apart with a series of conceptual art pieces representing the key themes of their plan.
Many of the policy announcements had been widely expected, including the rise in the personal tax allowance to £12,500. There was also £8bn extra for the NHS, an extra £2.5bn for education and qualified teachers in every classroom. The launch was widely seen as a pitch to remain in coalition whatever the outcome of the election.
Mr Clegg said: “Imagine for a moment, what will become of Britain in the next five years if Nigel Farage and his friends on the right wing of the Conservative Party are calling the shots. Our public services cut to the bone; our communities divided; our shared British values of decency, tolerance and generosity cast aside.
“Now imagine a Britain run by Ed Miliband and Alex Salmond … Our economy crippled by reckless borrowing; our children destined to pay for it for years to come; the future of our United Kingdom in the balance once again.”
Unlike other manifesto launches, Clegg only took one question from journalists. The remainder were from party members, causing anger amongst journalists.
The first question came from Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Vauxhall. Mr Hyyrylainen-Trett shot to fame after he admitted he had taken drugs and deliberately infected himself with HIV due to depression.
Patrick Wintour from the Guardian took to Twitter to complain. He said: “Worst launch press conference yet by Lib Dems one question from the FT and the rest dolly drops by party members. Pathetic.”
The questions were cut short when a radio microphone broke down and broadcasters unable to carry the audio feed.