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The media scrutiny of the Lib Dems continues - as the party dismisses Mandelson's claims that Tory HQ is smearing Clegg as "utter nonsense"

Mandelson speaking 2 As I noted at the beginning of the day, the media were making up for lost time this morning in terms of scrutinising the finer points of Lib Dem policy and looking at Nick Clegg's personal record when it comes to integrity.

Yet  Lord Mandelson was claiming at lunchtime on Radio 4 that the Conservative Party was in some way behind this negative coverage of the Lib Dems. He said:

"I think the coverage is frankly disgusting... The press stories we have seen today are straight out of the Tory Party dirty tricks manual. These things do not happen at the drop of a hat. This is pure Andy Coulson-style News of the World territory turned into political form.

"They are classic smears of the sort that we have seen directed against Labour in many general elections. Now this Tory treatment is being given to the Liberal Democrats. This is borne of Tory panic, the Tories pushing the smear button in the hope that this will damage Clegg."

Excuse me, but the smear there is coming from Mandelson, who appears to have been judging others by his own standards when it comes to practising the "dark arts". Tory HQ rightly dismissed his claims as "utter nonsense".

This blog post this afternoon from Andrew Gilligan is another excellent example of the scrutiny to which the Lib Dems are being subjected.

Gilligan - independent-minded and by no means a member of the "Tory press", as Greg Hands reminds us, concludes of the Lib Dems:

"Nick Clegg’s party simply cannot be allowed to get away with the absurd claim that they represent a new way of doing politics. On the ground, their campaigning is consistently more unscrupulous and poisonous than the other parties."

Read more from Gilligan here.

Jonathan Isaby