Cable and Clegg
Vince Cable have been branded a "socialist" and Nick Clegg a "communist" by critics (Reuters) Reuters

Business secretary Vince Cable and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg have been respectively branded a "socialist" and a "communist" by critics.

Cable came under fire from Downing Street advisor Adrian Beecroft in an interview with the Telegraph. The venture capitalist, whose report on possible changes to employment law was severely criticised by Liberal Democrats, lashed out at the party.

Defending his recommendation to replace current systems of unfair dismissal with "no fault dismissals", which Cable branded "bonkers", Beecroft claimed the business secretary's criticism was rooted in "ideological, not economic" reasoning.

In the interview, he described Cable as a "socialist who found a home in the Lib Dems" and "one of the left".

"People find it very odd that he's in charge of business and yet appears to do very little to support business," he added.

Clegg drew criticism from the head of a private school following comments that he believed British society was becoming dominated by class, widening the gap between rich and poor.

Tim Hands, master of Magdalen College School in Oxford, said Clegg's suggestion that universities should favour strong state school applicants over private pupils was the "old-style communist creation of a closed market".

Hands argued that politicians should be aiming to improve the quality of state education, rather than capping the achievements of private pupils.

"Many parents make huge sacrifices in order to get the best possible education for their children. Privileged politicians propose to betray those parents and their values."

Clegg's comments about the sense of "entitlement" felt by the nation's upper classes and their handing down of advantages "almost automatically, generation to generation", would not be expected to sit well with Eton-educated Prime Minister David Cameron. Clegg attended the highly ranked Westminster public school.

Beecroft argued that the Conservatives should do more to stop the Liberal Democrats from holding them back.

He said: "Nick Clegg is always threatening to go nuclear and dissolve the whole thing if he doesn't get his way with this, that and the other. Which you'd think acually must be a hollow threat.

"Therefore why can't the government be more robust? I don't know what the answer is, but it's disappointing."

Earlier in the week, Clegg said he saw no evidence that Beecroft's report, which made around 20 recommendations for altering employment laws, would help the economy.