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Clegg risks Coalition fracture with new ‘differentiation’ plan

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is to do more to highlight the differences between and the Conservatives and Lib Dems in an attempt to win back voters.

His keynote speech today follows a clutch of opinion polls showing UKIP beating the Liberal Democrats as the third most popular party.

Clegg’s former director of strategy, Richard Reeves, has written an article in the Guardian which outlines the need to differentiate policy from the Conservatives. He warns that without an increase in support, the Coalition could collapse before 2015.

Reeves writes: “The inner workings of government will be on display as never before. The Lib Dems will make their own position clear long before the Government does. The necessary compromises of government will become badges of pride for a mature, open government rather than dirty secrets, tucked away.

“2103 is the year the Liberal Democrat strategy – deliver, then differentiate – will be tested. A more assertive stance in act two of coalition should mean greater support and more votes. If not, the curtain will probably fall on the coalition before 2015.”

Clegg is expected to defend welfare reforms, but will claim that his party’s influence stopped a further £6.2bn cuts this autumn.

He will tell the Centre Forum thinktank: “The Conservatives suggested we cut an extra £10bn from welfare. And ideas were put forward to penalise families with more than two children by taking away child benefit, and to penalise young people who want to move away from home in search of a job by denying them housing benefit.

“We agreed £3.8bn of benefit cuts – uprating all benefits in line with the pay rises we can afford from next April in the public sector of 1%. And we rejected the more extreme reforms that had been put on the table.”

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