Clegg Says Cameron Appeasing Extreme Segment of Tories

U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg attacked his coalition partner, Prime Minister David Cameron, for backing policies designed to appeal to the “extreme” wing of his Conservative party.

Writing before local-government elections this week, Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, accused Cameron of abandoning “compassionate” Conservatism in favor of playing to elements in his party that want to cut welfare payments, abandon environmental policies and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights to deport a radical Islamic cleric, Abu Qatada.

“The Tories are pulling to the right in an attempt to appease their base,” Clegg wrote on the Lib Dem Voice blog today. “Compassionate conservatism has been sidelined. So-called benefits scroungers have been back in the firing line, along with the European Convention on Human Rights. The blue team used to claim to have gone green, yet have now publicly denounced the importance of environmental protections.”

With national elections two years away, the coalition partners are increasingly highlighting their differences. Last week, Cameron strengthened his team to give a greater Tory focus to government policy. Clegg also attacked the opposition Labour Party today for tacking to the other extreme.

“By offering anger rather than hope, Labour are steadily becoming a party of protest,” Clegg said, an echo of a warning from former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, who told current leader Ed Miliband in an article published on April 11 he risks remaining in opposition.

“They are making the classic mistake of opposition, talking only to themselves rather than setting out a positive vision for the nation,” Clegg said of Labour today. “Their absence of ideas only confirms that they cannot be trusted on the biggest challenge of our time: fixing the mess in the economy they helped create.”

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