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article imageNick Clegg urged to resign in open letter from Lib Dem colleagues

By Mathew Wace Peck     May 25, 2014 in Politics
Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister has been urged to resign as leader of the Liberal Democrats by members of his own party, with a dozen of his own MPs openly criticising him.
A number of Westminster parliamentary candidates for next year's British general election blame the Lib Dem leader for the disastrous results in Thursday’s English local-council elections and the expected trouncing their party will receive in the European Parliament election, the results of which will be announced tonight (Sunday, May 25) and into the early hours of Monday morning.
As expected, Clegg has already insisted that he has no intention of resigning as party leader, despite having presided over the Liberal Democrats losing more than 250 of its councillors.
But, according to the Guardian, John Pugh, the Lib Dem Member of Parliament (MP) for Southport, says that a dozen of his party’s House of Commons colleagues have expressed doubts over whether their leader should continue to lead their party.
This news follows on from yesterday’s report’s that “two would-be MPs are among more than 600 people who have signed up to the online LibDems4Change campaign” – the campaign that has published an open letter calling on Clegg to resign now.
Clegg Out!
One of the candidates, Jackie Porter, complained that her party had no “clear strategy” for how they “go forward” from the mess they currently find themselves in.
Porter, who is due to contest the Lib Dems' Conservative-held target seat of Winchester in next year’s general election – due to be held on the first Thursday of May – said that Clegg had himself to blame, because he had “allowed himself to be portrayed as just another pea out of the same pod” as Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and the leader of the Labour Opposition, Ed Miliband.
Meanwhile, Torbay MP Adrian Sanders, said of Clegg, “The problem is the messenger. Very few people say it’s the message.”
Calling on their leader to get out, the LibDems4Change open letter to him says:
We consider it vital that at the 2015 general election, the party should be led by someone who will receive a fair hearing about our achievements and ambitions for the future. It is clear to us that this person is not you, as the loss of so many of our hard-working councillors highlights [and] we now believe that progress will be best achieved under a new leader. We therefore ask that you stand down, allowing the membership to select your successor this summer.
As well as the parliamentary candidates, the open letter includes signatures from Lib Dem councillors, activists and former MPs, all fearing that under Clegg’s continuing leadership, the party “could lose more than 20 of their 57 seats next year.”
Nick Clegg
Nick Clegg
However, Lord Ashdown, who, as Paddy Ashdown, once led the Liberal Democrats, dismissed their concerns. Speaking to Sunday Politics, the peer said the move to oust Clegg would be “divisive” and “damage the Lib Dems for ever.”
However, the Independent on Sunday claims that a “block of unnamed MPs are poised to demand” Clegg’s resignation, “paving the way for the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, [as] a possible ‘unity candidate,’ to take over in a ‘coronation’ [i.e. without a leadership election contest] before next year’s general election.”
“Some are considering going public within days,” the paper reports, “before the state opening of Parliament” – due to take place on Wednesday, June 4 – which will herald the last parliamentary session before the general election.
The Liberal Democrats are part of the Conservative government by virtue of their signing a coalition agreement with David Cameron’s party in 2010, following no outright winner of that year’s general election.
Rainbow coalition
At the time, many Liberal Democrat supporters and former MPs would rather their party had joined forces with the Labour Party – at the time led by the incumbent British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown – in order to form a “rainbow coalition” minority left-of-centre government.
Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage
It has become increasingly clear over the ensuing years that many people who voted for the Liberal Democrats in 2010 – believing that the party offered a real “alternative” to Britain’s predominantly two-party state – blame the party and its leader Nick Clegg for allowing a right-wing Conservative agenda to dictate the direction of the country after the 2008 financial collapse.
In doing so, the Lib Dems ditched their election pledge not to raise university student tuition fees (they were subsequently raised by up to more than three times the previous level); and also dropped a number of long-standing commitments, including a universal negative income tax and demands for reform of Britain’s electoral system, which currently ensures that smaller parties have a disproportionate presence in parliament compared with the number of votes they receive.
Clearly, following the results in Thursday’s local elections and the anticipated results in the to-be-announced European elections, many now see the UK Independence Independence Party (UKIP) – headed by the charismatic Nigel Farage, MEP – as that “
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