by RAY FLEMING

NICK Clegg introduced an important new recruit to his campaign team yesterday -- his eight-year-old son. Talking about the debate on when the inevitable government spending cuts should be introduced -- soon after the election, as the Conservatives say, or in 2011 as the Lib Dems and Labour think -- he said, “It's common sense. My eight-year-old ought to be able to work this out. You shouldn't start slamming on the brakes when the economy is barely growing.” That's that sorted then. No need for consultation between all the parties, the Bank of England, business representatives etc which Clegg is trying to promote immediately after the election, whatever its result, to formulate a “rough framework” to deal with Britain's structural deficit.

Actually Mr Clegg is right to focus on this issue but it should be resolved by the voters at the election, not by a talking shop after it. The choice is simple: cuts within 50 days, say the Conservatives, to make a start on tackling the problem; wait until next year say the other two parties because this year the economy will still be too fragile to absorb increased unemployment from cuts and the reduction in economic activity and growth that will follow from it. This is the big issue of the election because if it isn't got right nothing else will be possible. I've been saying this for weeks. If you don't believe me, listen to Clegg's eight-year-old.