Nick Clegg laughs off Labour 'shrinking man' jibe
Nick Clegg has attempted to laugh off a Labour election broadcast portraying him as "the Un-credible Shrinking Man".
He said Labour leader Ed Miliband was the "missing man" of British politics.
Lib Dem party president Tim Farron branded the Labour broadcast, which portrays the deputy PM as a Conservative stooge, a "petty attack ad".
Labour said it should be seen in the context of its whole election campaign, which had been "policy heavy".
The ad is shot in the style of a trailer for a 1950s B-movie and shows an actor playing Mr Clegg getting gradually smaller in size as he is bullied into accepting Conservative demands by stereotypical Tory toffs around the Cabinet table.
The tiny Clegg is patronised by an actor playing David Cameron, who can't remember his name, and ends the broadcast being chased by the Downing Street cat.
On his weekly LBC radio show, Mr Clegg said he had not seen the three-minute film, but added: "I've been told by a friend that I will be more fearful and wary of the Downing Street cat from now on."
When he was played an excerpt, the deputy prime minister laughed and said: "They spent money on this? Particularly from Ed Miliband, who is the missing man in British politics?
"We have got a European election campaign and he hasn't breathed a word about the issue we are supposed to be debating, which is whether we are in or out of Europe.
"They have obviously got money to burn."
The broadcast has had a mixed reception from left-wing commentators, with some saying it was an example of negative campaigning which had nothing to say about Labour's policies, and others suggesting the party feared a Lib Dem revival before the next general election.
A Labour source said the broadcast should be viewed in the wider context of Labour's local and European election campaign, which was the most "policy heavy" of the main parties.
Ed Miliband had also criticised David Cameron and UKIP, he added, but was determined to "expose what we think is the hypocrisy of the Liberal Democrats".
"If we can find new, humorous and imaginative ways of doing that then we will," he added.
Labour has stepped up its campaign against Nick Clegg's party in the run-up to 22 May's local elections in 23 areas where they are fighting the Lib Dems, with "Lib Dem lottery" scratchcards highlighting alleged broken promises, ad vans targeting the party and a day of action on Saturday, with members of the front bench.
The Lib Dems have released their own black and white spoof video mocking Ed Miliband as the "incredible silent man".
The Conservatives said the Labour election broadcast showed Ed Miliband had no economic plan.
A Conservative source said: "This was Labour's one opportunity to show the country what Ed Miliband would do for Britain - but there was nothing on the economy, nothing on jobs and nothing on the deficit.
"Labour have no long-term economic plan. Instead Ed Miliband's dinosaurs are taking us back to the 1970s with black and white election ads and union-dictated policies."