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CLEGG CLOGS CAM; Nick insists he isn't 'mates' with PM as AV fight turns nasty.

Byline: Torcuil Crichton

LIB Dem leader Nick Clegg's love affair with David Cameron appeared to be over last night as he launched a blistering attack on the Prime Minister.

He blasted Cameron for "defending the indefensible" in opposing a change in the voting system - and insisted he and the PM were not "mates".

In a desperate attempt to prevent a Lib Dem meltdown in the Holyrood and English council elections on May 5, the Deputy Prime Minister seemed to stage a lovers' tiff with his coalition partner.

Clegg, who is also facing a backlash in the AV referendum because of his decision to join forces with Cameron almost a year ago, said the yes camp had faced "a headwind of lies, misinformation and deceit".

He said: "This nasty no campaign, I hope, will prove to be the death rattle of a right-wing elite, a right-wing clique who want to keep things the way they are."

Asked if Cameron was part of this elite, Clegg replied: "Look, I include all those, and of course it includes the Conservative Party, who like this nice little racket - they get a job for life and they waft into power and they don't even need to bother trying to get a majority of people on side."

He also accused Cameron of aligning himself with "reactionary interests" - from the BNP to the Communist Party - in opposing the introduction of the alternative vote.

Clegg's comments came after a week in which he was filmed being urged by his supporters to "pick a fight" with Cameron.

In another sign of the heightened tensions within the coalition, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne effectively called George Osborne a liar.

It emerged the Lib Dem minister wrote to the Chancellor, calling on him to withdraw "unfounded" claims that a change to the voting system would make elections more expensive.

CAPTION(S):

RIFT: Cameron and Clegg are divided over the alternative vote system
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 25, 2011
Words:320
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