British Deputy PM Clegg in paint attack

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A man was arrested Thursday after he attacked British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg with blue paint in a protest against government spending cuts, police said.

The Liberal Democrat leader was attending a meeting with party members in Glasgow, Scotland, when he was splattered by two men who had gained access to the closed talks.

Clegg brushed off the attack as "not a big deal" during an interview with Real Radio.

Police later arrested a man, believed to be in his early 20s, in the Woodside Hall area to the west of the city.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie bore the brunt of the attack, according to party sources.

Rennie said: "It was two disgruntled individuals, who chose not to speak about their concerns in advance but were purely interested in a stunt. Their behaviour has only obscured any message that they may have had.

"I've always wanted a blue streak in my hair but my mother wouldn't let me," he joked.

The deputy PM's face and clothing were smeared with paint, according to eyewitness Carol Shedden, of Real Radio Scotland.

Clegg's centre-left Liberal Democrats have been the cause of much anger after joining the centre-right Conservative party to form a coalition government in the wake of last year's general election.

The coalition has since overseen a programme of severe spending cuts as it attempts to rein in a record deficit.

Clegg and Rennie became the latest in a line of politicians and public figures to feel the wrath of disgruntled Britons.

Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair was pelted with a paint bomb in parliament in 2004 while his long-time deputy John Prescott hit the headlines after punching a man who threw an egg at him during the 2001 election campaign.

Fellow Labour minister Peter Mandelson was doused in green custard by an environmental campaigner in 2009 and a man was sentenced to six weeks in prison after attacking News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch during a parliamentary hearing in July.

© 2011 AFP

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