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Clegg caves in on Kennedy sharing platform with Miliband

Michael Crick | 15:16 UK time, Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Nick Clegg has changed his mind and will now allow his predecessor as Lib Dem leader, Charles Kennedy, to share a platform with Ed Miliband in promoting a Yes vote in the forthcoming referendum.

The Yes to AV campaign had originally planned to hold a cross-party rally yesterday, involving both Ed Miliband and the former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy.

But Yes to AV organisers refused to allow Nick Clegg to join the platform, even if, as he suggested, he simply spoke early on and then left the event. When Clegg learned of this rebuff he then refused to allow Charles Kennedy to join the event, as had originally been planned.

The Yes to AV campaign calculated that Nick Clegg is now so unpopular that he would no longer be an asset to their cause.

Charles Kennedy, in contrast, is perceived to be a relatively popular figure. Kennedy has made no secret of his doubts about the Coalition, and voted against the government over the rise in university tuition fees.

Nick Clegg has now backed down and allowed Kennedy to take part in the cross-party event, which has been rescheduled for 29 March 2011.

Update at 17:30:

One of Nick Clegg's senior aides has contacted me to say "it's not true that we stopped Charles attending. And it was Miliband who said no to the deputy prime minister, not the 'Yes' campaign."

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