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Alternative Vote

Clegg attacks Cameron as personal jibes start to bite

Nick Clegg launched a thinly veiled attack on David Cameron yesterday as he branded opponents of changing the voting system as "dinosaurs".

Amid rising tension between the two Coalition parties, the Deputy Prime Minister hit back at Mr Cameron's declaration that the alternative vote (AV) would result in more "broken promises" by politicians. That was seen by Liberal Democrats as a reference to Mr Clegg's U-turn over university tuition fees and a breach of a "gentlemen's agreement" between the two party leaders that they would not indulge in personal criticisms.

Condemning the "distractions and falsehoods" of the No camp, Mr Clegg told the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank: "If we want a different kind of politics, one in which parties can work together in the national interest, we all have to grow up a bit. Compromise is not betrayal."

Mr Clegg added: "There are people on the left and the right who preach new politics and pluralism and yet are now so damning of its inevitable consequence, which is compromise."

He described the No camp's personal attacks as "a desperate attempt to defend the indefensible – the old politics of tribalism backed by dinosaurs on all sides of the political spectrum".