Coalition starts to decouple as parties eye 2015

Clegg and Cameron keen to air differences as both aim for centre ground at next election

David Cameron and Nick Clegg have already begun to decouple their parties from coalition in readiness to fight the next election, senior Tory and Lib Dem sources revealed last night. The Prime Minister and his new strategist, Lynton Crosby, are to start formal Conservative election campaign meetings next month, while Mr Clegg will begin to put distance between his party and the Tories in a major speech tomorrow with the clear declaration: "Our offer is different from that of the Conservatives."

Mr Clegg will declare that the Lib Dems have "learnt to live with a host of invidious choices" as coalition partners. "If you want to protect welfare as well, you've got to accept that you'll end up gutting the crime budget, or the BIS budget, or local government. We get that now."

Despite there being at least two years before the official start of the 2015 campaign, both leaders recognise the need for differentiation from each other to sweep up fresh voters in the political centre ground.

Mr Crosby, whose return to British politics was confirmed last month, is expected to co-chair the election meetings with Mr Cameron. George Osborne, who had been carrying out a dual role as both Chancellor and election strategist, will remain at the meetings but is stepping back from the campaigning job to focus on the economy.

The manoeuvres come as the coalition prepares to publish its "mid-term review" on policy achievements and outstanding targets in the New Year. The Deputy Prime Minister is under greater pressure to set out a distinct Liberal Democrat stall in coalition after a ComRes poll for The Independent on Sunday today reveals Ukip have leapt to 14 per cent, five points ahead of Mr Clegg's party on 9 per cent and in third place overall. Labour have fallen four points to 39 per cent but have retained a double-figure lead over the Tories, who are 11 points behind on 28 per cent, compared to 12 points behind in the same poll last month.

In a speech entitled "Governing Britain from the centre ground: building a stronger economy in a fairer society", on the eve of his fifth anniversary as Lib Dem leader, Mr Clegg will set out the core message his party will use from now until the next election.

The Deputy Prime Minister will attack the "Tory right's dreams of a fantasy world", including the belief that "we can walk away from the EU, but magically keep our economy strong, where we can pretend the world hasn't moved on, and stand opposed to equal marriage, where we can refuse to accept the verdict of the British people and pretend the Conservatives won a majority".

He will add: "It is at times like these that Britain needs a party rooted in the centre ground, which anchors the country there. The Liberal Democrats are that party."

He will stake a claim for the tax cut for low- and middle-income earners, which was accelerated by the Chancellor in his autumn statement earlier this month.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee