Election 2015

Election 2015: Lib Dems lay down third 'red line'

Nick Clegg Image copyright PA

Nick Clegg has laid out his third red line on the price he hopes to extract from either the Conservatives or Labour if they want to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

A £12,500 personal tax-free allowance has now been added to increased spending on education and a "stability" budget within the first 50 days of the formation of the next government.

More are likely to follow - possibly on health and maybe even Europe.

Mr Clegg is trying to reassure not just the voters but his own party that any future government involving the Lib Dems will have a strong Lib Dem flavour.

He said that the red lines were "hard parameters" and did not include "wriggle room".

The question for Mr Clegg is whether he is boxing himself in too tightly.

We've seen where that can get the party - remember the tuition fees cast-iron guarantee before the last election? In the end the Lib Dems were obliged to give ground and suffered a significant amount of political damage.

Key players

Mr Clegg insists that these red lines will not suffer the same fate because the tax pledge "goes with the grain" of Conservative and Labour policy.

The Tories have, for example, already pledged to increase the threshold by the same amount as the Lib Dems by 2020.

Mr Clegg is trying to position himself and his party as the key players - the king makers - in any future coalition government.

He believes his "red lines" will answer the question - what's the point of voting for the Lib Dems?

And that they will reassure his MPs that the party will not be a pushover in any future coalition negotiations.