NICK Clegg yesterday insisted he was “very confident” he would retain his place in the House of Commons despite an opinion poll suggesting he would lose his Westminster seat.
On a campaign trip to Scotland, the Deputy Prime Minister said his confidence did not amount to complacency when confronted with evidence putting Labour ahead in his Sheffield Hallam constituency.
“We are not going to put the SNP in charge of a country they want to pull to bits.”Nick Clegg
Mr Clegg also claimed the Lib Dems could hold all of its 11 seats in Scotland on a trip that also saw him rule out the possibility of his party doing any sort of deal with the SNP in the event of a hung parliament.
Visiting Bishopbriggs in the East Dunbartonshire constituency being defended by his colleague Jo Swinson, Mr Clegg also condemned Alex Salmond for “taking voters for granted” and suggested Scots could vote tactically to keep out the SNP.
Yesterday’s poll, published by Lord Ashcroft, put Labour ahead by two points in Sheffield Hallam, a seat where Mr Clegg is defending a 15,284 majority. The survey of eight Lib Dem battleground seats showed Labour has 29 per cent support in Sheffield Hallam compared to 27 per cent for the Lib Dems.
Mr Clegg said: “I am very confident that I will win in Sheffield Hallam. The poll doesn’t even mention the candidates’ names. And our own polling where we do that shows that there is a very significant lift for Liberal Democrat MPs when they are named in the polls. Since 2010 there have been 16 local elections in my constituency and we have won 14 of them. Last year there were five seats contested in Sheffield Hallam, we won four of them – all of them with increased majorities.”
Elsewhere, the Lib Dems were ahead in Cambridge, but had fallen further behind the Tories in both North Devon and St Austell & Newquay. But in three other of their south-west England seats – North Cornwall, St Ives and Torbay – the Lib Dems have slight leads.
Turning to Scotland, Mr Clegg ruled out post-election deals with the SNP. “In the same way that I would never dream of putting Nigel Farage in charge of Europe, we are not going to put the SNP in charge of a country they want to pull to bits,” he said.
He said there was “something astonishingly cocky and arrogant” about the SNP talking deals before votes were cast. On pro-Union voters helping the Lib Dems defeat the SNP, he said it “made sense” in Ms Swinson’s seat.
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