AV campaign further splits UK coalition
Tue, 03 May 2011 09:59:49 GMT
British Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has accused Prime Minister David Cameron of launching a systematic attempt to undermine his deputy Nick Clegg.
The bitter Alternative Vote (AV) referendum campaign disclosed a deepening loss of personal trust at the top of the coalition government when the energy secretary told the daily The Guardian on Sunday that Cameron is using the referendum to shore up his position within the Conservative party at Clegg's expense.
Liberal Democrats are voicing over widely circulated no-campaign leaflets that focus on Clegg's alleged broken pledges.
"David Cameron has had the power to stop these no-campaign leaflets, saying Nick Clegg has broken promises and told lies. He has done nothing about it,” said Huhne.
"To attack your political colleagues in a coalition, and Nick Clegg, in particular, for accepting the compromises necessary to allow the Conservatives to implement some of its policies, is absurdly short-sighted and outrageous,” added the energy secretary, who belongs to the Liberal Democrats' camp.
"Our two parties came together in the national interest in order to deal with our country's economic problems. The Conservative party is now completely trashing us and Nick Clegg's leadership for doing something they asked us to do in the national interest", Huhne said.
Huhne's remarks are regarded as the most personal attack on Cameron mounted by a Lib Dem during the referendum campaign.
The latest row follows a Sunday Times/YouGov poll that showed some tightening in the race, with the no lead narrowing from 18 points to a still emphatic 10.
It seems that Labour voters now believe it is in their better long-term interest to damage Cameron by voting 'yes' than it is to vote 'no' and punish Clegg.
However, the 'yes' campaign is still only leading in Scotland, suggesting that despite the fluctuating polls, it may have an insurmountable job to turn a tentative shift into a decisive victory by the Thursday May 5 vote.