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Clegg takes swipe at Tories during Lib Dem rally speech

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg addressing a rally of activists at the Lib Dem conference Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Nick Clegg took a swipe at his Conservative coalition partners as he claimed the Liberal Democrats were "the only party that can speak credibly about creating jobs".

Addressing a rally of activists at the Liberal Democrat annual conference in Glasgow, the Deputy Prime Minister claimed credit for blocking Tory-backed plans to make it easier for bosses to fire workers.

But Mr Clegg branded the Conservatives "the party of fire at will" and said that without opposition from the Lib Dems, "bizarre" reforms to employment law proposed by venture capitalist and Tory donor Adrian Beecroft would have become law.

Aides said Mr Clegg's comments were part of a strategy - before the 2015 General election - of being "bold about taking credit" not only for the Lib Dems' achievements in office, but also for the occasions when they have reined back Conservative ambitions.

Business Secretary Vince Cable also told a fringe meeting at the conference that there has been a "very tense relationship" with the Conservatives over the coalition Government's policy on energy and climate change.

Mr Cable said: "On the Tory side, it isn't the primitive climate change denying stuff or even petty stuff around windmills in your back garden - though that sort of thing does go on - but it is about the cost.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the Lib Dems have had 'a very tense relationship' with the Tories on climate change. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

"The Tory argument is not that green is a bad thing, but that it is expensive and somebody has got to pay, and they are resisting it on those grounds."

Meanwhile, Lib Dem President Tim Farron raised concerns about Chancellor George Osborne's Help to Buy programme for home-buyers, telling the conference, "We still face the danger of a re-inflating housing market, unsustainable growth fed by cheap credit and real growth thwarted for want of skills."