Harriet Harman twists the knife: Nick Clegg's Lib Dems are as bad as the Tories

Labour's deputy leader rejects talk of a deal with Cable

Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, has slapped down figures in her own party who are hoping to pave the way for a Lib-Lab coalition by wooing the Liberal Democrats.

She told The Independent: "There will be no cosying up to the Lib Dems. No nods and winks. No political games. No hidden agenda aiming for a future coalition."

Ms Harman's intervention will be seen as a rebuke for Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor. In an interview with this newspaper two weeks ago, he offered talks with Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, on a new Lib-Lab consensus, including his plan for a mansion tax on homes worth more than £2m. It has also emerged that Mr Cable exchanges friendly text messages with Ed Miliband. But Ms Harman said it would be "misleading" to claim the Liberal Democrats were better than the Tories. "It belies what they are doing," she said.

Ms Harman's move reflects concern in the Labour high command that the public flirting with Mr Cable sends a damaging signal to voters that Labour believes it cannot win an overall majority in 2015.

In a marked change of tone, Labour will go into attack mode against the Liberal Democrats, whose autumn conference in Brighton opens tomorrow. After Mr Clegg's dramatic mea culpa over his broken promise on tuition fees, Labour will challenge him to "put his money where his mouth is" by calling a Commons vote later this month on the Opposition's plan to cut the maximum fee from £9,000 to £6,000.

Labour will issue a dossier, What have the Lib Dems REALLY done for you?, setting out a long list of alleged broken promises and mistakes by Mr Clegg's party since it entered the Coalition, arguing that it must take responsibility for the Tory-led Government's failings.

Ms Harman insisted her party's tougher approach towards the Liberal Democrats would not change if they dumped Mr Clegg and installed Mr Cable, who has admitted his heart "beats on the left". She said: "We want everyone to be in no doubt. We have to judge people by what they have done. The Liberal Democrats have broken their promises. They are not a brake on the Tories. They are their accomplices."

Ms Harman declared that all Liberal Democrat ministers were culpable. "They are Cable actions as much as Clegg actions. It is how you vote that matters – not the mood music you make," she said. "It would not change the nature of the beast if the Lib Dems changed their leader."

Labour's deputy leader said the entire party – the Shadow Cabinet, National Executive Committee and Parliamentary Labour Party –agreed it should draw a line under speculation about a deal with the Liberal Democrats in 2015. "We are putting forward our policies and our arguments. We want to win an overall majority. We are not going to say the Lib Dems are a better option than the Tories. It would be misleading for voters," she said.

Some Labour figures disagree with Ms Harman. Neal Lawson, chairman of the Compass think-tank, said the party should prepare the ground for a deal: "We have to build relationships now. We might find we have more in common than we think."

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Primary teaching jobs in the Swaffham area

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Are you a fully quali...

Year 1 Teachers needed for day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Primary General Cover Teachers needed

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week