Lib Dem MP: 'We have lost a generation of young voters'
There has been stinging attack on the Liberal Democrat leadership from the backbench MP Adrian Sanders.
"The Liberal Democrats are in trouble," he writes in the new edition of Liberator magazine. "The problem is not wholly electoral. Council by-elections where we have a track record and work hard show we can hold our vote...
"It is more a crisis of confidence and image, both within and without the party, and this will be far more damaging in the long term."
Mr Sanders adds:
"We now face the brutal realisation that we have fractured our core vote, lost a generation of young voters, and alienated thousands of tactical voters in seats where it makes the difference between electoral success or failure."
"The message on the doorstep before the election was often 'I support another party, but you seem to have more integrity and do more for local people so you have my vote.' Now it is 'I used to vote for you, you still work hard for your local area, but you are discredited and lied just like the rest of them.'"
He continues: "It seems like the leadership has done all it can to copy the method of governance of Labour and the Conservatives.
"Our grassroots has been effectively divorced from having input into what the party leadership does. What our ministers do is often driven by special advisers, who never have to face an electorate, and while some are very good and understand this, others seem to have a cosier relationship with journalists than the parliamentary party..."
"The lack of engagement between leadership and party is of some concern; I don't believe the leader spoke to our ministers in the Foreign Office or Ministry of Defence before going for intervention in Libya, let alone sought out opinion among us humble backbenchers before any decisions were made."
And Mr Sanders goes on: "We need the leadership to start acting like the leadership of an independent political party that just happens to be in coalition, not the leadership of a coalition that seems to forget it has an independent political party to take into consideration."