BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 16:06 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:06 UK

Election: Nick Clegg attacks 'desperate' Gordon Brown

Nick Clegg on why he labelled Gordon Brown and the Labour Party 'desperate'

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has indicated he might find it difficult to do a deal with Gordon Brown in the event of a hung Parliament.

In a Daily Telegraph interview, he says Mr Brown is "a desperate politician".

It comes as Mr Brown said that he wanted a "progressive alliance" to keep the Conservatives out of power.

Tory leader David Cameron said his rivals were already demonstrating how an inconclusive election result would only lead to "bickering and haggling".

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Mr Brown dismissed Mr Clegg's remarks by saying he did not want to respond to "personal attacks".

Speaking in Cardiff, the prime minister said: "I prefer to talk about the policies, the substance, what we have got to decide at this election, the choice."

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said Labour sources have played down Mr Brown's call for a "progressive alliance" in the Independent, saying that he had been simply encouraging progressive-minded people to vote Labour - not hinting at any post election deal with the Lib Dems

"If you want a referendum on new politics, you've got to consider voting Labour," Mr Brown told the newspaper. "We are the only party committed to a referendum on it. You won't get one with the Tories."

He said the Conservatives offered merely "a change of personnel and a return to the old politics", while Labour was "serious" about revamping the UK's electoral system.

'Clutching at straws'

However Mr Clegg, whose party is committed to the system of proportional representation, said the prime minister had "systematically blocked, and personally blocked, political reform".

"I think he is a desperate politician and I just do not believe him," the Lib Dem leader told the Daily Telegraph.

He also stressed there were many differences between his party's policies and those of Labour.

Nick Robinson
Gordon Brown and his team are preparing to woo Nick Clegg, having either ignored or belittled him in the recent past

"Do I think Labour delivered fairness? No. Do I think the Labour Party, in its heart, has a faith in civil liberties? No. They are clutching at straws."

He told a press conference Labour had been "a stubborn block to reform and progress" for 13 years which had failed to tackle the "democratic outrage" that was the House of Lords, and added that the "old politics" with a choice of just two parties was "over".

He shrugged off a report in the Sun newspaper that his election dossier had been found in the back of a black taxi, adding he had been advised "just to be myself in the TV debates".

As talk of a hung Parliament continued to dominant the political debate, shadow business secretary Ken Clarke said "strong, purposeful government" was needed in turbulent economic times.

He added: "If the British don't decide to put in a government with a working majority and the markets think that we cannot tackle our debt and deficit problems, then the IMF will have to do it for us."

'Hung parliament territory'

A series of opinion polls published on Wednesday's gave a varying picture of the state of the parties.

A YouGov survey for the Sun suggested the Lib Dems were up three percentage points from Tuesday on 34%, the Tories down two to 31% and Labour down one to 26%.

We still remain firmly in the hung parliament territory
David Cowling
BBC polling expert

The Tories have their biggest lead since March in a ComRes poll for the Independent and ITV News, climbing three points to 35%. Labour and the Lib Dems are both two points to 26%.

And the weekly Populus survey for the Times put the Tories ahead on 32%, down four points on a week ago, the Lib Dems up 10 points to 31% and Labour down five to 28%.

BBC polling expert David Cowling said they suggested "we still remain firmly in the hung parliament territory".

As well as the SDLP's manifesto launch, the former MP Martin Bell has introduced more than 40 independent candidates, endorsed by the Independent Network, who are standing around the UK.

They include a bus driver, lawyers, businessmen and a first-time voter.

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