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After a week of Tory bashing, Nick Clegg opens fire on Labour and insists they should "never" be trusted again with the economy

By Tim Montgomerie
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After a week of Tory bashing from the Liberal Democrats' left wing, Nick Clegg - representing the Orange Book wing of his party - engaged in some Labour-bashing.

Clegg attacked the two "always plotting" Eds, labelling them as the backroom boys... "Labour says: the Government is going too far, too fast. I say, Labour would have offered too little, too late. Imagine if Ed Miliband and Ed Balls had still been in power. Gordon Brown’s backroom boys when Labour was failing to balance the books, failing to regulate the financial markets, and failing to take on the banks. The two Eds, behind the scenes, lurking in the shadows, always plotting, always scheming, never taking responsibility. At this time of crisis what Britain needs is real leadership. This is no time for the back room boys."

Clegg said Labour should never be trusted with the economy again... "Labour’s economy was based on bad debt and false hope. Labour got us into this mess. But they are clueless about how to get us out. Another term of Labour would have been a disaster for our economy. So don’t for a moment let Labour get away with it. Don’t forget the chaos and fear of 2008. And never, ever trust Labour with our economy again."

Clegg attacked Labour as the party of vested interests... "Of all the claims Ed Miliband has made, the most risible is that his party is the enemy of vested interests. While we were campaigning for change in the banking system, they were on their prawn cocktail offensive in the City. While we’ve led the charge against the media barons, Labour has cowered before them for decades. The most shocking thing about the news that Tony Blair is godfather to one of Rupert Murdoch’s children is that nobody was really shocked at all."

Clegg attacked Labour's union links... "And today Labour is in hock to the trade union barons: After their government stipend, 95% of Labour’s money comes from unions. Most of it from just four of them. Let me be clear: The values of trade unionism are as relevant as ever. Supporting workers. Fighting for fairness at work. But I don’t think the unions should be able to buy themselves a political party. Ed Miliband says he wants to loosen the ties between Labour and the union barons who helped him beat his brother. Let’s see him put his money where his mouth is.  Let’s see if he’ll support radical reform of party funding. Every previous attempt has been blocked by the vested interests in the other two parties."

Clegg attacked Labour's record on civil liberties... "We are right to stand up for civil liberties. No retreat to the illiberal populism of the Labour years."

There were parts of Clegg's speech (read it in full) that Conservative won't have enjoyed but it sounded like a speech of a Coalition partner and that hasn't been true for many of the speeches delivered this week.