Page last updated at 09:32 GMT, Sunday, 14 September 2008 10:32 UK

Lib Dems not like Tories - Clegg

By Justin Parkinson
BBC News political reporter, in Bournemouth

Nick Clegg denies any similarity with the Tories

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said his party is "absolutely not" becoming too similar to David Cameron's Conservatives.

He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show that plans for tax cuts would work from the "bottom up", while the Tories were focused on helping the rich.

The Lib Dems are promising a 4p cut in the basic rate of income tax.

Mr Clegg also said that, in government, his party could "scrap a department or two" in Whitehall.

The Lib Dems have previously pledged only to abolish the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Mr Clegg, who is taking part in his first autumn party conference as leader, attempted to distance himself from both Labour and the Conservatives.

'Loopholes'

He said: "We will be the only party in Britain with a tax plan to restore fairness to British families."

There would be more tax to pay for rich people who rely on "capital", rather than working, to make money, Mr Clegg added.

Nick Clegg is a pale imitation of David Cameron
John Hutton, business secretary

The Lib Dems would close "the loopholes for hedge fund managers", he said.

Such measures would raise about 12bn, making his party's position "twice as redistributive" as its manifesto at the 2005 general election.

Mr Clegg said: "The Conservative Party talk about fairness. They talk the talk, but do they walk the walk?

"Their only tax policy is to raise the threshold of inheritance tax, which will only benefit the very wealthy."

Turning his attention to Labour, Mr Clegg said public spending had increased from 300bn in 1997 to more than 600bn.

He added: "I just don't believe that central government, the man or woman in Whitehall, always knows best how that money should be spent.

"We are going to look very carefully at the way Whitehall works... People have lost faith in the ability of government to fix everything from the centre."

But Business Secretary John Hutton told the Andrew Marr show: "Nick Clegg is a pale imitation of David Cameron.

"David Cameron is, at best, a pale imitation of Tony Blair."

The Lib Dem conference, in Bournemouth, runs until Wednesday.


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