Autumn Statement: Lib Dems Brief Against Tories (By Mistake)

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Nick Clegg may have had some strong behind the scenes battles with George Osborne in the run up to Wednesday's statement, but it appeared the "differentiation" strategy had taken an even more extreme step after the Lib Dems briefed against the Tories as the chancellor was still speaking in the Commons.

At 2pm the Lib Dems sent out a press release hailing their moves to cut taxes for "normal working people" while at the same time attacking the Tories for being on the side of the wealthy:

Conservatives tax cuts for the richest

The only tax cuts the Conservatives support are ones for the very rich. At the General Election, their priority was to cut inheritance tax for millionaires. In the Coalition, Liberal Democrats have blocked these plans and instead we are cutting taxes for millions.

After several journalists expressed surprise at the language, the Lib Dem press office added to the muddle by telling reporters the press release slamming the Conservatives was "sent out in error" and was based on an old briefing.

It's not the first time a Lib Dem press release has been hastily retracted. In September the party sent out the advanced text of a speech by Clegg in which he called opponents of gay marriage "bigots". After an outcry Lib Dem HQ tried, unsuccessfully, to recall the email.

Ed Balls taunted Nick Clegg on Wednesday after Osborne ruled out introducing the Lib Dem's favoured mansion tax. The deputy prime minister could be seen rolling his eyes as the chancellor killed off his policy.