Exclusive: Labour releases spoof of Clegg's "broken promises" video

In the latest stage of its assault on the Lib Dems, the party turns Clegg's 2010 election broadcast against him.
 

Back in 2010, Nick Clegg presented himself as a new breed of politician, committed to ending "broken promises". One memorable Lib Dem election broadcast showed him walking down the banks of the Thames as bits of waste paper (representing the "trail of broken promises" left by previous governments) swirled around him. It was, in retrospect, a remarkable hostage to fortune. With Clegg breaking his own promises on spending cuts, VAT and tuition fees, the film has regularly been recalled as evidence of his political naïveté.

Now, in the latest stage of its assault on the Lib Dems, Labour has released an artful spoof of the infamous broadcast. Entitled "Nick Clegg: The Confession", the film begins in the same fashion as the original before cutting after 30 seconds to Clegg standing with David Cameron on the doorstep of No. 10 (the moment many Lib Dem voters defected to Labour). As Strauss's Blue Danube swells in the background, it turns the Lib Dem leader's words against him:

Fairer taxes: a promise broken. Better schools for everyone: a promise broken. Cleaner politics: a promise broken. Life is still too unfair for too many people; so choose fairness, choose real change that works.

As Clegg again utters "choose", it cuts to the word "Labour". 

It's nicely done, and is further evidence that the party recognises how crucial the Lib Dem defectors are to its election chances. In addition to those seats that Labour hopes to win directly from the party, strategists point out that in 86 of the party's 87 Tory targets, the Lib Dem vote share in 2010 was larger than the Conservative majority. In 37, it was more than twice as large. If a large chunk of Lib Dems move to Labour, as a similar number of Tories move to Ukip, scores of those marginals will fall to Miliband.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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No, straight couples don't face marriage discrimination

The couple are right in law, but their complaint is ill-judged and tone-deaf. 

The Court of Appeal has struck down the case of a heterosexual couple - Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan seeking to have a civil partnership. The couple in question say they are the victims of discrimination. Are they right?

The legal question is more complex than the headlines. The government’s position is that they are waiting and seeing what the introduction of equal marriage means for the future of civil partnerships. Either civil partnerships will cease to be an option for same-sex couples or they will be extended to everyone. Judges were divided as to whether or not they should leave it for the government to decide that, or if civil partnerships should be extended to heterosexual couples. They opted to leave it to parliament, albeit by a narrow margin.

Legally, the judges agree, that the state of affairs creates a system where the law treats heterosexual and homosexual couples differently, and that this should be ended. And as far as the law is concerned, I agree. But emotionally and morally, the case of Steinfeld and Keidan stick in my craw.
Let’s remember why civil partnerships were created: to allow same-sex couples to access some of the legal protections extended to heterosexual couples in a way that could pass through the Houses of Parliament without being bogged down in too many battles with religious conservatives.

The rights that are not extended to civil partners include: a prohibition on religious readings, music or symbols. They cannot take place in religious venues, regardless of the beliefs of the owners’ rights. And people in a civil partnership cannot describe themselves as “married” on legal documents. There is no provision for separation as a result of adultery.

The rights not enjoyed by married couples in civil partnerships are: the ability to have private ceremonies without witnesses present. The reason why heterosexual marriages include provision for witnesses is the existence of forced heterosexual marriages in the United Kingdom, a rare example of a legal distinction based upon the sexuality of a couple that is grounded in fact, not prejudice or mumbo-jumbo. There is still no recognition for adultery in same-sex relationships in English law, whether you are married or in a civil partnership.  Equal marriage still has yet to be extended to Northern Ireland.

But if you are a heterosexual couple and you want to have a civil union that eschews religious messages, or patriarchal tropes, from being walked down the aisle by your father to the presence of a white wedding dress, you can. If you dislike the phrase “husband” or the word “wife”, you can use whatever word you like, in a social and a legal context. Don’t forget, too, that the courts have ruled recently in favour of couples in longstanding partnerships outside of marriage being able to access pension and other survivor benefits.

So while there is discrimination as a matter of law, it is hard to see how there is discrimination as a matter of fact for heterosexual couples. There is, however, a continuing discrimination towards homosexual couples in the divorce courts and in Northern Ireland.

It seems particularly ill-judged to claim discrimination while using the courts to gain access to an institution created as a pathway to the rights you already enjoy and can freely access, crowdfunding £35,000 along the way, particularly while there is still genuine marriage inequality between heterosexual and homosexual couples. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.