Clegg: Coalition is 'best outcome'
Outright victory for either Conservatives or Labour in the 2015 general election would result in "the wrong kind of recovery" for the UK economy, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg says.
A majority Labour government would wreck the recovery, while a Tory-only administration would not have the same commitment to fairness that the Lib Dems have brought to the coalition, he said.
Speaking at his party's annual conference in Glasgow, Mr Clegg said that another coalition government would be the best outcome for the country because it enables the Liberal Democrats to act as a restraining influence on the larger parties of the left and right.
The Deputy Prime Minister told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show that there have so far been no discussions with Tories about whether the two parties will continue their coalition in the event of a hung Parliament, and declined to say whether he would prefer a partnership with Conservatives or Labour, insisting that the decision would depend on the precise outcome of the poll.
Liberal Democrats will go into the 2015 election with the message "let us finish the job, but finish the job fairly", he said. The sacrifices of the past few years would be "squandered" by a single-party government of either of the larger parties.
Mr Clegg said that the increase in the income tax threshold to £10,000 would not have happened without Lib Dems in the coalition, and indicated that his party will put at the heart of its next manifesto a further upgrading to take everyone on the minimum wage out of income tax altogether. By joining the coalition, Lib Dems have also been able to put a stop to Conservative plans to give inheritance tax breaks to millionaires, he said, warning that Tories would pursue "ideological cuts" if they were governing by themselves.
"Our message to the British people in 2015 will be essentially this: We will say `We've done very good things in Government - let us finish the job, but finish the job fairly'," Mr Clegg told the Marr Show.
"There are millions of people in this country who've made huge sacrifices and we've gone through this very difficult time over the last two or three years. That would be squandered if you have a single-party government of either Labour or Conservatives in 2015.
"It is my genuine belief that if we go back to the bad old days, not of coalition or balanced politics, but of either the left or the right dominating government on their own, you will get a recovery which is neither fair nor sustainable. I think Labour would wreck the recovery, and under the Conservatives - who don't have the same commitment to fairness which we do - you would get the wrong kind of recovery. Our message is that coalition is good, for the Liberal Democrats to stay in government is good, let us finish the job but let us finish it fairly."
Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said: "Nick Clegg is desperately trying to distance himself from the failures of David Cameron's Government. The truth is that he has broken his promises, and backed the Tories all the way. Nick Clegg and his party must take responsibility for their Government's failure which has caused the cost of living crisis families are facing."