Nick Clegg’s speech this afternoon will include a big push for his party to accept that they are a party of government, not of protest and that coalition is a good thing. He made some choice comments to that effect in an interview with regional journalists, which the Birmingham Post has covered. Clegg said:

‘There are a group of people – they are perfectly free to do this in a free democratic society – who like to throw stones from the sidelines, who like to be associated with causes where there’s never a difficult decision needs to be made, who don’t actually like parties being in government. And who always scream ‘betrayal’ when any party goes into government. In other words, people who like protest but not the reality of power.

‘And I make no apology of saying to those people, we are not the party for you. If people want just protest politics, if they want a sort of ‘I don’t like the world let me get off” party, they’ve got one. It’s called the Labour Party.’

Now, let’s be clear, this isn’t a Mitt Romney moment. The Deputy Prime Minister is just saying that if a voter doesn’t want to back a party that’s in power, then they should support Labour. He went on to say that the Liberal Democrats are the right party for ‘progressive people, from the left, the centre, from wherever, who are interested in what it means to grapple as a progressive with a country where the economy has been severely damaged’. All he is saying is that Lib Dem voters need to embrace the reality of being in power.

The problem for Clegg is that the story has been badged up as ‘if you don’t like me, vote Labour’. Which is a great slogan for Labour campaign leaflets.

Tags: Lib Dem conference 2012, Lib Dems, Nick Clegg, UK politics