4:58pm Thursday 29th May 2014
By Tom Edwards
LEADING Liberal Democrats across Worcestershire have thrown their support behind Nick Clegg – and have revealed their frustration at the party’s torrid time at the polls.
As a campaign by party members to oust Mr Clegg gathers momentum across the country, activists and councillors in Worcestershire insist they want him to stay to contest next year’s general election.
Since the disastrous local and European election results, which including the Lib Dems losing in Claines to leave it with just one seat at Worcester City Council and defeat for its one Worcestershire MEP, Mr Clegg’s future has been on the line.
An online petition is currently doing the rounds among Lib Dem associations urging its members to back a new leadership election.
Councillor Sue Askin, a Lib Dem county councillor for Claines, said: “I’m not an ardent Nick Clegg fan but I do support him and I won’t be asking for his resignation.
“I didn’t sign this petition. The trouble we’ve got is, although we’ve got a good message to put across nobody seems to listen to it, whether it’s because of the national media or Nick Clegg I don’t know.
“He should stay because at the moment we need to be united, so from my point of view I support Nick.”
Councillor Graham Myatt, a Lib Dem in Malvern, said: “I’m very supportive of him – he lacks charisma and he’s been pilloried in the national press mercilessly, which I think is very unfair, but he’s done a lot of jolly good stuff, like pension reforms.
“I know Vince Cable very well and if he says he had nothing to do with it, I believe him.”
Other leading figures in the party around Worcestershire said Mr Clegg was paying the price for being the junior partner in a Coalition.
Peer Lord Oakeshott dramatically quit the party on Wednesday, a move which led to speculation business secretary Vince Cable is trying to get Mr Clegg ousted behind the scenes, which he denies.
Councillor Charles Tucker, who sits on Wychavon District Council and represents Pershore, said: “He’s handled that situation very well over the last few years – having power in the Coalition must have been a nightmare.
“Few people would have been able to get a better outcome. The party has achieved a huge amount, we’ve helped stabilise the economy.
“What does frustrate us is that we’ve got a great deal of achievements, but it’s being drowned out in the rows between Labour and the Conservatives and increasingly, UKIP.”
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