UK Politics

Clegg urges Lib Dems to 'shout from rooftops' about record

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Media captionLib Dem leader Nick Clegg: "We're not a protest party anymore"

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has urged activists to shout "from the rooftops" about their achievements, as he launched the party's campaign for the English local elections.

The deputy prime minister said backing the Lib Dems was no longer "a protest vote".

Instead there was a "proud" record in coalition government on which to campaign, he argued.

The Lib Dems would provide economic growth and fairness, Mr Clegg said.

The local elections take place on 22 May, with the Lib Dems currently polling well behind UKIP, Labour and the Conservatives.

Speaking at the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London, Mr Clegg insisted the Lib Dems were the only party able to fix Labour's economic "mess", "rein in" the Conservatives and "stand up to" UKIP.

'Vanity projects'

The campaign will focus on the party's record on freezing council tax - a policy encouraged by central government - and protecting key services.

Mr Clegg unveiled a dossier setting out more than £500m worth of "vanity projects" and "elaborate" expense claims racked up by Tory and Labour-run councils.

In his address to activists, he said: "Bluntly, we are not the protest vote any more. But I have never wanted the Liberal Democrats to be just the 'none of the above' party.

"Everything I have done as leader has been about taking us onto the next stage: making the Liberal Democrats a serious party of government - national and local too."

UKIP claims it is on target to have more members than the Lib Dems by the 2015 general election.

Mr Clegg said: "UKIP is Britain's protest party now and they're revelling in it. They think that all they need to do is stoke up people's anger, offering up fake solutions and dangerous fantasies - not least that idea that we could solve every problem."

He added that Lib Dems needed to be more positive, urging: "Shout it from the rooftops: if you want a party that can fix Labour's mess, if you want a party that can rein in the Tories, if you want a party brave enough to stand up to UKIP, if you want a party that will deliver a stronger economy and a fairer society, not one or the other, but both, you've got it: vote Lib Dem."

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps criticised his coalition partners' record on keeping council tax down.

"Conservative councils cost those on band D, on average, £89 a year less than they do when they are Labour-controlled, and actually, interestingly, £106 a year less than they do when they are Lib Dem-controlled," he told BBC Two's Daily Politics programme.

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman MP responded to Mr Clegg by saying the "Lib Dems are a party of broken promises - Nick Clegg says they're different from the Tories, but the truth is they've backed David Cameron all the way".