After a difficult period in the political life of the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg will come out fighting today as he speaks to local councillors in Sheffield. According to BBC reports, Clegg will say:
Our councillors up and down the country are proving that, even in tough times, we can do great things. We are making difficult decisions with compassion and intelligence, keeping pain to a minimum and protecting the people who need the most help.
Though he is talking specifically about local politics, ahead of the local elections on 5 May, Clegg’s words might be hard to stomach for those who have already been on the receiving end of coalition policy and cuts. Clegg will also urge fellow Lib Dems to “take the fight” to the Conservatives:
Working together in the national interest does not mean we agree on everything. And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be taking the fight to the Tories in the local elections. When the Conservatives have local priorities that are not our priorities, we should say so. When the Conservatives are making mistakes locally, we should say so.
Perhaps, after a year of having to toe the coalition line, the opportunity to attack the Conservatives will come as a relief to Clegg. However, it might not do much for coalition unity after Vince Cable’s outspoken criticism of David Cameron’s speech on immigration.
Ed Miliband, meanwhile, will speak in Newcastle and accuse Clegg of breaking a string of promises to the electorate.
The Lib Dems have broken their promises. A year ago they promised to scrap tuition fees. But they trebled them. They promised to oppose a rise in VAT. But they voted to back the Tories in raising it to 20 per cent. They also promised to protect the NHS. But they backed David Cameron’s expensive bureaucratic plans which put the founding principles of the heath service at risk.