Page last updated at 17:09 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010

Nick Clegg criticises Tory 'scare tactics' over economy

Lid Dem leader Nick Clegg
Mr Clegg accused the Tories scare tactics

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has accused David Cameron of trying to stoke up fears of "economic meltdown" if the Tories do not win the general election.

In a speech on Monday, Mr Clegg claimed the Tory leader was using "a crude form of blackmail" to scare voters.

Last week, shadow business secretary Ken Clarke said another Labour term would cause interest rates to soar and the pound to go "on a downward spiral".

Mr Clegg said the Tory strategy "is completely negative and without hope".

'Protection racket'

Mr Clarke, chancellor in the mid-1990s, told a meeting of business leaders in the City of London that a fourth Labour term would leave Britain "at the mercy of the bond markets and international finance".

He added that voters must not to "elect themselves into a financial crisis".

But Mr Clegg was said to have told Lib Dem workers that "the Conservatives are so desperate that they have resorted to a crude form of blackmail".

If Nick Clegg is suggesting that taking no action on the deficit will not affect interest rates, and that the prospect of a hung Parliament has no effect on the markets, then he's taking people for fools.
Ken Clarke
Shadow business secretary

"David Cameron and George Osborne are stoking up fears in the markets, actively trying to destabilise the pound and reduce the government's ability to borrow.

"It's like a protection racket: vote for us or our friends in the City will lay waste to your economy, your savings and your job."

He also said that economic threats are only part of a wider Tory ploy to play on public fears about the future.

"There is nothing positive in the Conservatives' election strategy. It's built entirely on the hatred of Gordon Brown, stoking up fears of a broken society and now threatening economic meltdown.

"It's a strategy that is completely negative and without hope, and it's becoming increasingly obvious that people aren't going to fall for it."

Shadow Business Secretary Ken Clarke said: "If Nick Clegg is suggesting that taking no action on the deficit will not affect interest rates, and that the prospect of a hung Parliament has no effect on the markets, then he's taking people for fools. It is economists who are issuing these warnings, not just politicians.

"I do not want Britain and its government to be at the mercy of the bond markets and bankers. It is Gordon Brown's irresponsibility which has put us in this mess. We need a new government to tackle the debt credibly and put us back in control of our own destiny. Nick Clegg is simply urging complacency and wishful thinking."

On Sunday, Mr Clegg would not be drawn on the possibility of a formal Lib Dem alliance with either the Tories or Labour in the event of a hung Parliament, saying only: "Of course you need to talk to each other."



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