Clegg: Lib Dems can break 'stifling' political deadlock

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Nick Clegg predicted the "stifling deadlock of two-party politics" could be broken within 10 years as he formally launched his campaign for the Liberal Democrat leadership.

Declaring that his party was ideally placed to take advantage of the disillusionment with the political system, the odds-on favourite to succeed Sir Menzies Campbell set out proposals for a "liberal nation".

Mr Clegg has built a strong lead over his rival, Chris Huhne, among the party's MPs and yesterday tore into Gordon Brown and David Cameron for lacking new ideas and basing policies on "tactical positioning" in the first major speech of his campaign.

He said: "The result is the sat-nav politics we're seeing today – turn this way to shore up the core vote, that way for the floating vote. Left for the approval of the Mirror, right for The Sun."

He said the "outdated philosophies" of the main parties could not respond to the "epidemic of alienation and powerlessness".

Speaking in Westminster, he said that he wanted his party to win the battle of ideas. He added: "This can only happen if the stifling deadlock of two-party politics in Britain is broken for good. I believe this is a realistic goal within the next decade." Mr Clegg said the country faced five key challenges: empowering individuals, boosting social mobility, striking a balance between security and liberty, climate change and "making sense" of globalisation. He promised to raise the amount of cash spent on the poorest state school pupils to private school levels.

Mr Clegg also called for more local courts to deal with minor offenders and for "wholesale reform" of prisons, and he backed the creation of a dedicated anti-terrorist police force and reforms to make it easier to prosecute terrorists.

He suggested annual targets for cutting carbon emissions and an intern-ational body to enforce environmental treaties.

His campaign team announced the support of 25 of his fellow MPs, more than twice the number that have endorsed Mr Huhne.

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