Clegg faces Labour’s suspicious minds

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David Cameron is in Israel, so up stepped his Deputy for a few joyous minutes in the sun.

Nick Clegg, you can tell, just loves these occasional turns at PMQs. The Sheffield MP’s heart fair bursts with pride as the Speaker yells “Questions to the Prime Minister” - and it is he, Nicholas William Peter Clegg, who rises to his feet.

His first question yesterday, from fellow Lib Dem Alan Beith, was a gentle underarm throw about the wonders of coalition government.

Mr Clegg, unsurprisingly, was more than happy to wax lyrical on his favourite topic: Why Nick Clegg Should Be in Government For Ever.

The Lib Dem leader is convinced that coalitions are good - and that coalitions are here to stay. His problem is Labour look less impressed by the prospects of sharing power with the ‘yellow peril’.

Indeed, the Opposition party spent most of PMQs doing their level best to spare us all a Lib-Lab pact next year.

Harriet Harman, stepping in for Ed Miliband, ridiculed the speech Mr Clegg made at the Lib Dem conference in York at the weekend.

For those not paying attention, this was the one where he listed all the things about Britain which his speechwriters hold dear.

The hackneyed list included cups of tea; the shipping forecast; Private Eye and, erm, flip-flops - although as Ms Harman noted drily, this final symbol of patriotism is “not so much footwear for the DPM, but a way of life.”

“He might love Britain,” she added. “But Britain does not love him back.”

Cruel. But Kevin Brennan went further still, recalling the Lib Dems’ by-election defeat to a man dressed as Elvis.

“Could not the electorate’s message to the DPM be summarised by paraphrasing the words of a song by the original Elvis?” the Labour front-bencher chortled. “You ain’t nothing but a lapdog!”

The Labour benches howled. Those coalition negotiations should be fun.