David Prosser: Time for Nick Clegg to speak up

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The Independent Online

Outlook Labour MPs have been hinting at skulduggery over the way Nick Clegg changed his mind about the need for immediate fiscal retrenchment following a chat with Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, shortly after forming a coalition with the Tories.

However, while Mr King is undoubtedly blessed with political acumen, his evidence to the Treasury Select Committee yesterday that he had simply repeated to Mr Clegg remarks he had made publicly in presenting the Bank's quarterly Inflation Report a few days previously, undermines the plot theories. The question it does prompt, though, is why Mr Clegg was suddenly converted to the Conservative way of thinking.

After all, Mr King had been making his views clear about the need for greater austerity in the public finances for months prior to the election. Had Mr Clegg listened to any of the Governor's public utterances, he would have been left in little doubt that Mr King was in the Conservative camp on the need for immediate spending cuts, rather than the one the Lib Dems shared with Labour until coming to power.

It would be fascinating to hear more from the Deputy Prime Minister. Mr Clegg either has a different recollection of his conversation with Mr King, or there was some other motivation that explains his dramatic U-turn.

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