Nick Clegg - who's he calling a wild right winger?

Nick Clegg

He didn't sing it but it is clear that as well as "sorry" Nick Clegg has another message he wants the public to hear.

It is that he will fight Tory priorities for the next round of spending cuts.

This afternoon he condemned "wilder suggestions" coming from "the right" for a £10bn saving in welfare spending.

Which Tory backbencher or think tank had he got in his sights you may wonder? The answer is none other than the chancellor himself who first raised the idea in this year's Budget when he said: "If nothing is done to curb welfare bills further, then the full weight of the spending restraint will fall on departmental budgets. The next Spending Review will have to confront this.

"So I am today publishing analysis that shows that if in the next Spending Review we maintain the same rate of reductions in departmental spending as we have done in this review, we would need to make savings in welfare of £10bn by 2016."

"In other words, unless welfare is cut by £10bn there will need to be deeper cuts elsewhere - unless, of course, more is raised in taxes from the wealthy - the other message the Lib Dem leader wants to be heard.

The strategy of differentiating his party by saying what measures he's fought - eg the NHS reforms - has been replaced by public bargaining over the content of December's autumn statement and next Spring's Budget.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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