Nick Clegg’s “shirkers” protest highlights Coalition divisions

7 January: The Guardian reports that Nick Clegg’s attack on the Tory rhetoric of labelling the unemployed as “shirkers” has revealed that all is not cosy in the coalition, despite a joint press conference by the Deputy PM and David Cameron which was designed to show a united face.

His words come a day after Lord Strathclyde’s resignation, the Conservative peer telling of his frustration with his coalition partners in the upper house.

With the debate over welfare savings likely to form one of the central political battlegrounds of 2013, the deputy prime minister, speaking at a joint press conference with David Cameron at Downing Street, said: “I don’t think it helps at all to try and portray that decision as one that divides one set of people against another, the deserving and the undeserving poor, people in work and out of work.”

It is understood Clegg is also involved in a backstage battle on how to ensure that coalition plans for childcare will particularly help the working poor, rather than offer reliefs to the middle class.

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