Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg told the BBC tonight that he would not take his party into a coalition with the Conservatives if they stick to their plan to cut benefits by £12 billion over two years. However, the Lib Dems are themselves proposing £3 billion in cuts to benefits.
In a Leader interview with Evan Davis, Clegg said:
“I would not recommend to the Lib Dems that we go into coalition with the Conservatives if they insist on a plan which is wilfully a remarkable departure from what we've done in this coalition: where we've asked those with the broadest shoulders to pay more through the tax system to balance the books.
"They're asking for £12 billion over two years. We've made shy of £20 billion over five, over half a decade. They want to ask the poorest to make those additional sacrifices at the same time as saying to the richest that they don't need to pay an extra penny through the tax system to balance the books. That is downright unfair."
However, Clegg refused to say what level of cuts to benefits he would accept, leading to the possibility of some sort of ‘split the difference’ deal with the Tories.
Nonetheless, for many sick and disabled claimants, even this level of resistance to Conservative cuts may appear to be better than none at all.