The Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, has dismissed allegations that the party's leader Nick Clegg is not a political "outsider".
He told Today presenter John Humphrys that Mr Clegg, a former eurocrat and lobbyist, had chosen to join "an outsider's party".
And he added: "He's had serious jobs outside politics - running aid projects, negotiating with the Chinese government on trade - he's come into politics with that background, which is not a background that either David Cameron or George Osborne or other leading Tories can offer
"And he's got something really fresh and new to say, precisely because we need now - cometh the hour, cometh the man - we need a real change in British politics."
And Mr Huhne added: "To try and smear him by saying somehow he's taken the cushy, easy road to power is ridiculous."
Mr Clegg has come under intense scrutiny in this morning's newspapers, including questions being asked about his funding arrangements. Together with Gordon Brown and David Cameron, he will be in Bristol tonight for the second prime ministerial debate, which will focus on foreign policy.
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