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Nick Clegg on why he labelled Gordon and the Labour Party as 'desperate'

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has indicated he might find it difficult to do a deal with Gordon Brown in the event of a hung Parliament.

In a Daily Telegraph interview, he says Mr Brown is “a desperate politician”.

It comes as Mr Brown says that he wants a “new politics”, with the two parties creating an informal alliance to keep the Conservatives out of power.

David Cameron warned any result short of a Tory victory “could reinforce the failure of the last 13 years”.

The election campaign continues later with the SDLP's manifesto launch.

In other news:
Figures show that the number of people unemployed in the UK rose by 43,000 to 2.5 million in the three months to February

The British National Party call for restrictions on imports from China to protect British jobs

A last-minute rush of people wishing to register to vote is reported by the Electoral Commission

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are due to launch their manifesto with a pledge to create green jobs

Mr Brown's interview with the Independent sees him calling for a “progressive alliance”, appealing to Lib Dem supporters to think about backing his party.

“If you want a referendum on new politics, you've got to consider voting Labour,” he said.

“We are the only party committed to a referendum on it. You won't get one with the Tories.”

He said the Conservatives offered merely “a change of personnel and a return to the old politics”, while Labour was “serious” about revamping the UK's electoral system.

'Clutching at straws'
However Mr Clegg, whose party is committed to the system of proportional representation, said the prime minister had “systematically blocked, and personally blocked, political reform”.

“I think he is a desperate politician and I just do not believe him,” the Lib Dem leader told the Daily Telegraph.

He also stressed there were many differences between his party's policies and those of Labour. Gordon Brown and his team are preparing to woo Nick Clegg, having either ignored or belittled him in the recent past

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“Do I think Labour delivered fairness? No. Do I think the Labour Party, in its heart, has a faith in civil liberties? No. They are clutching at straws.”

He told a press conference Labour had been “a stubborn block to reform and progress” for 13 years which had failed to tackle the “democratic outrage” that was the House of Lords, and added that the “old politics” with a choice of just two parties was “over”.

The Lib Dem leader was unveiling plans for a “pupil premium” which he says would raise the money spent on the one million children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds to private school levels.

Mr Clegg also defended the Lib Dems' policy of looking at alternatives to replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system, quoting a letter from former generals in The Times arguing that the UK should be prepared to scrap its nuclear deterrent.

Conservative leader David Cameron warned anything short of a clear victory for his party could leave Gordon Brown in Downing Street.

Mr Cameron said: “If you want change, then an Conservative victory is what can bring that change.

“Any other result could leave you literally stuck with what you've already got.”

The Conservative leader is due to outline proposals to reform the political system, including allowing voters to remove MPs found guilty of breaking the rules, greater use of “open primaries” to choose candidates, more accountability for ministers, reducing the number of MPs and breaking up the “quango state”.

He will say the public is “right to be furious” about being “betrayed by a generation of politicians, by an elite that thinks it knows best”.

Meanwhile, as the government continues to work on plans to bring thousands of stranded British tourists home following the reopening of UK airports on Tuesday evening, the Tories called for “a full inquiry into this fiasco”.

“Labour's misjudgement and mismanagement have badly let down the travelling public,” said shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers.

But Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said: “The government has taken every measure we can, and at every stage. We have done everything we reasonably can to protect the travelling public.”

'Hung parliament territory'
A series of opinion polls published in Wednesday's newspapers gave a confusing picture of the state of the parties.

One put the Lib Dems in the lead, while two others showed the Conservatives were ahead.

The YouGov survey for the Sun suggested the Lib Dems were up three percentage points from Tuesday on 34%.

The Tories were down two to 31% and Labour fell one to 26%. A total of 1,595 people were interviewed on Monday and Tuesday.

We still remain firmly in the hung parliament territory that voter reaction to the first debate placed us in

David Cowling
BBC polling expert
The Tories have their biggest lead since March in a ComRes poll for the Independent and ITV News, in which 1,012 adults were questioned on Sunday and Monday.

They have climbed three points on Tuesday to 35%, with Labour and the Lib Dems both falling two points to 26%.

And the weekly Populus survey for the Times, conducted among 1,501 people on Monday and Tuesday, put the Tories in first place on 32%.

This is down four points on a week ago, while the Lib Dems have gained 10 points to 31% and Labour fall five to 28%.

Using the BBC Online election seat calculator, the Populus and YouGov polls suggest Labour would be the largest single party in a hung parliament, while the ComRes survey shows the Conservatives as the largest party – but short of a majority in the Commons.

“We still remain firmly in the hung parliament territory that voter reaction to the first debate placed us in,” said BBC polling expert David Cowling, referring to last Thursday's televised head-to-head between Mr Brown, Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron.

As well as the SDLP's manifesto launch in Belfast later, the former MP Martin Bell will introduce 40 independent candidates, endorsed by the Independent Network, who are standing around the UK.

They include a bus driver, lawyers, businessmen and a first-time voter.

The Electoral Commission said there was a last-minute surge in people registering to vote, with 50,000 people downloading registration forms on Tuesday, the deadline to sign up.