Clegg to pledge radical Lib Dems

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Nick Clegg will promise today to give the Liberal Democrats distinctive and radical policies on health and education if he wins the party leadership.

The favourite to succeed Sir Menzies Campbell believes his party needs to draw clear "dividing lines" with Labour and the Tories on social policies.

In a speech to the Social Market Foundation, he will outline proposals to replace "top down" targets for the NHS with "bottom up" rights allowing patients to be treated by the private or voluntary sector or a hospital outside their area.

Mr Clegg would bring primary care trusts under the control of local authorities and break down barriers between the NHS and social services. The elderly, disabled and people with mental problems would be given individual budgets.

He would ban selection in state schools, includinggrammars in the change, and spend 2.5bn to bring education for the most disadvantaged pupils up to the standard in private schools.

Describing his party as progressive rather than conservative, he will say: "We will need also to establish a new supporting role for government as we move from the 'clunking fist' to the 'helping hand' of a genuinely enabling state."