Senior Labour frontbencher David Miliband yesterday accused Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg of running on an "anti-politics" platform which was not a sufficient basis to form the next British government.

Miliband's comments, in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, mark a shift in Labour's tone towards Clegg's party since last week, when transport
secretary Lord Adonis put out feelers to the Liberal Democrats, and prime minister Gordon Brown spent much of a TV debate saying, "I agree with Nick."

Dismissing Clegg's appeal to voters as an alternative to the "two old parties", Miliband said: "Anti-politics is fine for opposition, but it is not sufficient for government.

"There is a market for anti-politics, due to the reaction to the sickening expenses scandal, but it is not a basis for running the country. It's not the way to seek a mandate for the running of our country.

"We have said for a long time that David Cameron was not clear on what he stood for, and I think Nick Clegg is only clear on what he is against. They are riding the anti-politics wave."

Miliband rejected the Lib Dem leader's argument that Labour and Tory governments had presided over "65 years of failure" in British politics.

"If you look at the transformation of the country in the last 65 years it is because of the energy, drive, determination and sacrifice in the Labour Party to take on the forces of inertia," he said.

Voters were not able to choose a hung parliament on the ballot paper, he said, arguing that a Labour vote was "the only way to keep progressive politics governing this country".

And, in a message to former Labour voters considering backing the Lib Dems because of their opposition to the 2003 Iraq invasion, he said: "Look, you've punished us enough about Iraq. So don't start punishing yourself."

Miliband dismissed suggestions that Brown could be jettisoned as Labour leader in order to reach a coalition deal with the Lib Dems in a hung parliament.

"We have chosen our leader," said Miliband, who has been named as a possible replacement for Brown in a Lab/Lib coalition.