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Despite pointing out the differences between the two coalition parties in a speech today, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has told ITV News' Chris Ship that the coalition will remain in place until 2015:
Commenting on Nick Clegg’s speech today, Labour's Deputy Leader Harriet Harman said:
In a speech at the Commonwealth Club this morning, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said Britain should be governed from the centre ground.
He said: "What I want to set out is a case for why Britain should be governed from the centre ground. A case for both a stronger economy and a fairer society, because we can have both – they are not mutually exclusive.
"Serious parties know that that the centre ground is the only place from which Britain can be governed...
"But in times of economic distress, when people and parties are under pressure, when there are no easy answers, no silver bullets, only tough choices – at times like these, politics quickly becomes polarised as the homing instincts of ideologues to the right and the left kick in."
Nick Clegg's speech will contrast with that of the Chancellor's. George Osborne said the Government should be there for the "strivers" and not "shirkers". But the Deputy Prime Minister will accept that not everyone who cannot find a job is simply being lazy:
"Of course, there are some on the right who believe that no-one could possibly be out of work unless they're a scrounger... The siren voices of the Tory right who peddle this myth could have pulled a majority Conservative government in the direction of draconian welfare cuts."
Nick Clegg will emphasise today that welfare reforms have not been forced on to his party by the Conservatives:
- In his address today Nick Clegg will acknowledge that governing in difficult times meant his party had acquired a "harder edge"
- But the Deputy Prime Minister will add that the alternative is "a retreat to the comfort and relative irrelevance of opposition"
- With the welfare system they inherited from the former Labour government Mr Clegg will say the coalition had no choice but to carry through major changes because it was both "badly designed and financially unaffordable".
Nick Clegg will mount a vigorous defence of the coalition's welfare reforms today on the eve of the fifth anniversary of his election as party leader. His speech comes at a difficult moment for the Lib Dems with polls showing them slumping to fourth place behind the UK Independence Party.
The Deputy Prime Minister will insist the Government has an "absolute duty" to ensure the system is fair to all. Mr Clegg will acknowledge the changes have, at times, been "painful and controversial".
But he will add that without reform, there is a risk of a "total collapse" in public support for the whole principle of welfare.
Latest ITV News reports
Will the polls making uncomfortable reading, the Deputy Prime Minister will set out the differences between his party and David Cameron's.