When Labour compared David Cameron to a chameleon it backfired. The chameleon looked quite cute, was the verdict of Mr Cameron’s daughter. The wisdom of comparing the Conservative leader to the Andrex puppy dog – cute but unrelated to the underlying product – isn’t therefore obvious to us. Nick Clegg made the comparison in his without-notes speech to LibDems in Bournemouth. His long attack on the Conservatives went on to also accuse Mr Cameron of arrogance and having no real policies.
If his attacks on the Tories were unconvincing his remarks on tax and spending were interesting. Do you believe that government spends every pound wisely?, he asked. Government, he said, should spend money as wisely as if the money was borrowed from a close friend. It’s true that LibDem tax plans don’t add up but his speech is a sign of the transformed public mood on tax. Voters no longer believe in higher and higher spending. They want a refund.
From PoliticsHome’s transcript of the speech, Clegg’s attack on the Conservatives in full:
"But we can be certain that Labour cannot help us.
And we can be certain that the Conservatives won’t bother.
Cameron’s only aim was to make the Conservatives inoffensive.
Problem is, once you strip out the Offensive parts of the Conservative party, there isn’t much left.
Cameron’s hope is to become the Andrex puppy of British politics.
A cuddly symbol, perhaps.
But fundamentally irrelevant to the product he’s promoting.
I asked my office to do some research over the summer into Conservative policy positions.
Before you laugh, it turns out they have actually said quite a lot.
3148 pages worth, in fact.
At a best guess, that’s about 1.8 million words.
That is three times as long as War and Peace.
Or two and half thousand readings of The Gruffalo.
I think they’re hoping to produce so much of this stuff that no-one will have the time to read it.
Because, out of all those 1.8 million words.
Guess how many translate into concrete commitments?
None. Not one.
You see, when you promise, you have to choose.
When it’s all “blue skies thinking” – you can say everything, no matter how contradictory.
You can say you want fairer taxes – but propose to spend billions cutting inheritance tax for the very richest in the land.
You can call for the European Union to be stronger against the Russians – while still plotting to break it in two.
You can say you’ll protect civil liberties – and then call for extra surveillance powers.
You can cycle to work – and have your driver follow behind.
They are a say everything, do nothing party.
David Cameron and his cronies have tried to take over every comforting, soft-focus word in the dictionary.
They are for work-life balance, fairness, motherhood, apple pie, saving the planet and custard.
You have to admire, I suppose, the sheer gall of someone who worked for Margaret Thatcher claiming he cares about poverty.
But that arrogance.
That born-to-rule conceit.
That sense he’s already picking out curtain patterns for Number 10.
That’s not what Britain needs.
Power must be earned, not inherited."