Tories think they are born to rule, says Nick Clegg deputy Simon Hughes

Clegg and Cameron will today reaffirm their commitment to the project – but behind the scenes their parties are at war

A joint effort by David Cameron and Nick Clegg to draw a line under the Coalition's troubles today is in danger of being overshadowed by infighting between their parties.

Yesterday Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrats' deputy leader, accused Conservative MPs who oppose the Coalition of believing they were "born to rule".

His counter-attack came after the MPs demanded a traditional Tory agenda and urged Mr Cameron to stop giving in to Mr Clegg, claiming the Liberal Democrat tail was wagging the Coalition dog.

Today the Prime Minister and his deputy will put on a show of unity in an attempt to convince voters the Coalition has not lost sight of its core mission to clear the nation's deficit. They are expected to visit a factory, in a stark contrast to their joint press conference in the Downing Street rose garden two years ago when the Coalition was formed.

Mr Hughes laid bare the simmering tensions between the two parties by blaming their poor local election results last week on George Osborne's insistence on cutting the 50p top rate of tax on incomes over £150,000. He even claimed the Chancellor now probably realised it was a "mistake" because it overshadowed the Liberal Democrats' policy to raise tax thresholds for 24 million people.

About 20 Tory MPs defied Mr Cameron by issuing an alternative programme for government – part of a campaign to urge the Prime Minister to make fewer policy concessions to the Liberal Democrats. But Mr Hughes reminded Tory rebels that their party had failed to win a majority at the 2010 election.

"It may be uncomfortable for the Tories, some of whom think they're born to rule but, unfortunately, the electorate didn't agree with them," he told BBC Radio 4's World At One. He also suggested that the Liberal Democrats had been more united and disciplined than the Tories since last week's election drubbing for both Coalition parties.

Such tensions threaten to eclipse a joint appearance today by Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg, being seen as a renewal of the Coalition vows they took two years ago. The two leaders are expected to visit a manufacturing firm in Essex as they pledge to get on with repairing the nation's broken economy.

The Prime Minister and his deputy are united in resisting calls for a lurch to the right or left, and will stress their commitment to govern from the centre ground.

Mr Cameron is reassuring his party that he wants a majority Tory government rather than a continuing Coalition after the next election.

Today he will stress that he has heard the voters' message in last week's elections. "I'm listening. I'm leading. I get it," he will say. "There are no closed minds, no closed doors in Downing Street."

Insisting that his government is about growth as well as cuts, he will say that there "can be no going back on our carefully judged strategy for restoring the public finances".

While backing the deficit-reduction strategy, Mr Clegg will declare his determination to block any "lurch to the right". He will say: "We are taking the tough choices not because we want to, but because we have to – any government would have to do the same. And when our critics say we are driven by a sort of ideological obsession with shrinking the state, that is plain nonsense."

Mr Clegg will hint at his support for tougher policies to ensure banks lend to business and a further boost to infrastructure spending to get the economy moving.

Liberal Democrats rebuffed Tory calls for Mr Clegg's plan for an elected House of Lords to be dropped from tomorrow's Queen's Speech. Lord Oakeshott, a senior Liberal Democrat peer, said: "There's no conflict between making our economy and our democracy grow. All three main parties promised Lords reform in their manifestos, so our government is getting on with it in the Queen's Speech. If the dinosaurs really want to focus on the economy, they should do just that instead of obsessing about Lords reform."

The alternative programme, published on the ConservativeHome website, includes: a referendum on Britain's relationship with the European Union; an expansion of grammar schools; new trade union laws to make it harder to call strikes; a British Bill of Rights; capital gains tax reduced from 28 to 20 per cent; and taking more workers out of the 40p tax band.

David Davis, the former shadow Home Secretary, dismissed Lords reform as a "distraction". He said Boris Johnson, the re-elected London Mayor, had "demonstrated clearly that a strong Tory message will deliver in London, and yet London is not a Conservative heartland of the country".

Politicians' buzz-words

David Cameron coined his latest political catchphrase this weekend. He's not the only one in Westminster to trade on the power of buzzwords ...

 

"Battlers and strivers", 2012: Mr Cameron tried to get down with the punters yesterday by invoking the "strivers, the battlers". "Battler" is a term borrowed from Lynton Crosby, an Australian conservative political strategist .

 

"Squeezed middle", 2011: Ed Miliband rode into battle on behalf of this bunch last year – and to critical acclaim. The Oxford English Dictionary declared the phrase its "word of the year".

 

"Alarm-clock Britain", 2010: Nick Clegg's team came up with this way to express affinity with basic-rate taxpayers. The Economist accused him of lifting it from Nicolas Sarkozy, who declared himself on the side of "La France qui se lève tôt ("early-rising France") en route to the Elysée.

 

"Mondeo Man", 1996: Tony Blair's way of encapsulating New Labour's target voter. The phrase arose from a conversation with a disgruntled Labour voter washing his Sierra.

Cahal Milmo

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SEN Teacher, Permanent Role in Ashford

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad urgently seeks a qualif...

SAP BI CONSULTANT

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BI CONSULTA...

Infrastructure Manager - Southampton - Up to £45K

£35000 - £45000 per annum + 36 days holiday and more: Deerfoot IT Resources Li...

Drama Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice