Lib Dem candidates call on Clegg to step down

 
Nick Clegg The Lib Dems lost more than 300 councillors in poor local election results

Two Lib Dem parliamentary candidates in key swing seats have called on party leader Nick Clegg to step down.

Jackie Porter, would-be MP for Winchester, said that after another poor local election showing, it was time to act in the party's best interests.

West Dorset candidate Ros Kayes said the public had lost trust in Mr Clegg.

But a party spokesman said its message should not be "distorted by needless infighting".

Both Winchester and West Dorset are currently held by the Conservatives but are seen as winnable.

Start Quote

The abysmal loss of well over half our seats last Thursday... is mostly due to national unpopularity”

End Quote John Pugh Lib Dem MP
'Lovely bloke'

Ms Porter - a Lib Dem county councillor - said the party's leader had "allowed himself to be portrayed as just another pea out of the same pod" as David Cameron and Ed Miliband.

Speaking to the BBC she added: "We have to make decisions to save the party not the person."

She has signed an open later to Mr Clegg calling on him to stand down so a new leader can be chosen in the summer.

Ms Kayes, another of around 200 party figures to put their name to the letter, told BBC Radio 5 live: "If you were to ask the general public what it is they don't like, they wouldn't say they don't like the coalition; they would say they don't like Nick Clegg.

"As an individual he's a lovely bloke, I just don't think he's the right person to carry on leading the party."

Mr Clegg said he would "absolutely not" be quitting after his party suffered another bad night at the polls in Thursday's English local elections.

The Lib Dems lost more than 300 councillors and in the wards last contested before the coalition was formed in 2010, it was 14% down.

'Carnage inevitable'

Until now, despite suffering loss after loss, the party's MPs have been remarkably disciplined.

But in the wake of Thursday's results, one has given the gravest warning yet about Mr Clegg's future.

"We have to save the party, not the person."

John Pugh told the BBC he had canvassed more than a dozen backbenchers.

"The high command is in danger of seeming like generals at the Somme - repeatedly sending others over the top while being safely ensconced in Westminster and claiming the carnage is all somehow sadly inevitable," he said.

The time had passed, he added, for a policy of "misguided stoicism".

Although falling short of demanding his leader stand down, Mr Pugh said MPs would now "review" the election performance, putting the "wider party and country first".

"Our good results are mostly the product of local popularity," he said.

"The abysmal loss of well over half our seats last Thursday though is mostly due to national unpopularity."

Another MP - backbencher John Hemming - said: "I'm not an enthusiastic fan of Nick's leadership, but whether any action is needed at this stage is an issue I will come to when I return to Parliament."

Mr Clegg could face a leadership contest if a majority of Lib Dems at Westminster approve a no confidence motion or 75 local associations formally demand one.

'Always disappointing'

A Lib Dem spokesman said it was right to take the concerns about the campaign seriously.

But he added: "We always knew these elections would be tough and it is always disappointing when valued, hard working and dedicated councillors lose their seats."

Senior party figures were "proud" of the party's campaign, he said.

"Nick Clegg stood up for our core values, made the positive case for Britain's place in Europe, and took on Nigel Farage's divisive politics.

"Now is a time to get our message across, and shout what we're doing in government, and not get distorted by needless infighting."

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander urged his party to "work harder to sell the recovery as a Liberal Democrat achievement".

"People need to get on with that rather than muttering," he told the Sunday Times.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 325.

    324.ChrisA1
    Good Afternoon Chris...
    By the same token you should get 'moderated' for your sarcastic humour....is it some word-play on thread/knotted/knitted?
    You have 400 seconds to answer before this post self-destructs!
    Keep 'em coming and for heaven's sake don't mention UKIP.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 324.

    BTW - well done not, BBC for having two news items on broadly the same topic with two lots of comments. I suppose that's marginally better than your usual of having the same thread with two or more different titles.

    @323 The moderators don't make the threads and as this thread is "reactively moderated" (see below the posting box), someone must have complained about your post 321 !

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 323.

    If the same Moderators, are is evident are 'working' two 'similar' post on the Liberals...Why are there two in the first place...when other important reports like....Timothy Spall on becoming a leading actor, "albeit an ugly one"...or 'Scientists discover ovoid chicken eggs.' ...are ignored

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 322.

    A few posters say LD's to dissolve the coalition & have an Autumn election - are you serious? All the parties would cobble together more lies they'd expect us to believe & vote on to the detriment of us & the country. We need them to listen to what we've been telling them, go away & formulate some reasonable considered policies for an election in 2015. If not, they and us will reap what they sow!

  • Comment number 321.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

Comments 5 of 325

 

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    13:47: Fixing parliament BBC Radio 4
    Houses of Parliament

    Yesterday evening's warning from Speaker John Bercow that parliament will have to be "abandoned" if steps aren't taken to fix the Palace of Westminster in the next 20 years have got Westminster wondering what will actually happen to the building. John Thurso MP, the House of Commons commissioner, says patience is needed. "What we're determined to do is take a decision that offers the best value for money for the taxpayer," he tells The World At One. The problem is they won't know what that decision is until they've received professional advice, he explains. Read our story on John Bercow's comments here.

     
  62.  
    13:40: Lobby latest Iain Watson Political correspondent, BBC News

    Some points from this morning's lobby briefing:

    • Cabinet this morning was treated to a presentation on "women and equalities" by Nicky Morgan and Jo Swinson; another on life sciences (particularly the human genome project) by Jeremy Hunt; and, given the Mexican state visit, the foreign secretary outlined British policy on Latin America.
    • Sir John Major has been asked to attend Boris Nemtsov's funeral in Moscow. The PM's spokesman denied this was a provocative act towards President Putin, saying: "We want constructive relationships... We thought it was fitting for him to represent us."
    • The PM's spokesman wouldn't be drawn on when parliament would be recalled after the election and if the PM felt it should be swift in order to give MPs involvement in any coalition negotiations. "Announcements will be announced when they are announced," said the PM's spokesman, helpfully.
     
  63.  
    13:36: Men of Pakistani origin BBC Radio 4

    Chief Constable Sara Thornton, of Thames Valley Police, tells The World At One there's a clear pattern, as backed up by today's report, that the perpetrators of child sexual exploitation are mainly of Pakistani origin. "The report suggests somebody needs to do some independent research as to why this is happening," she says. "The government could commission it but it needs to be academically robust and it needs to be independent."

     
  64.  
    13:27: Beyond the front line BBC Radio 4

    Maris Stratulis, from the British Association of Social Workers, says today's report on child sexual exploitation has identified that the culture change everyone agrees is necessary must extend well beyond the actions of junior staff. "There's a disproportion here of people focusing on the frontline practitioners," she tells The World At One. "We want leaders and governors to be asking the right questions." The serious case review into Oxfordshire indicated that practitioners had been working in isolation, rather than sharing information and working collaboratively.

     
  65.  
    @rowenamason Rowena Mason, political correspondent at the Guardian

    tweets: Commons nearly empty for UQ on Yarl's Wood. No sign of the home secretary or immigration minister - Karen Bradley speaks for govt

     
  66.  
    13:21: 'We are not a Rotherham' BBC Radio 4

    Oxfordshire County Council's former leader Keith Mitchell tells The World At One that he is "not sure I ever really understood the scale" of the abuse in Oxford. "Oxfordshire has been and remains a good council. I just wish we'd done it earlier," he says. "We are not a Rotherham, I won't have that said. We are a good council and we have put in place the measures that are necessary to stamp this abuse out."

     
  67.  
    13:17: 'Inhuman' system

    Conservative MP and business minister Nick Boles has expressed concern about "inhuman inflexibility" in the benefits sanction system. The remarks were made to a group of charity volunteers and reported by the Grantham Journal.

    "With some of these cases it seems to me that there is an inhuman inflexibility that is imposed on them… The sanctions are a worry, and do need to be looked at," he said. "In the run-up to the election there is not a lot we can do, but we can get the case studies together where the sanctions seem to be most unreasonable… The beginning of a parliamentary term, when people are looking at things afresh, is the best time to make a change."

     
  68.  
    13:09: Yarl's Wood urgent question House of Commons Parliament
    Yarl's Wood detention centre

    The next item on the Commons agenda is about Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre, which has come under scrutiny for the way it treats asylum seekers. Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, has called for inquiries into Yarl's Wood in the past. Now he and other MPs will seek to establish, via an urgent question, what the government will do after undercover filming showed one management team member describing inmates as "caged animals".

     
  69.  
    13:05: Labour's pardons promise

    Here's our full story on Labour's plan to introduce a Turing's Law. "What was right for Alan Turing's family should be right for other families as well," Ed Miliband said.

     
  70.  
    13:01: Cooper on child sexual exploitation
    Yvette Cooper

    Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has been speaking about the Oxfordshire serious case review. She says it's "yet another example of children simply not being listened to when exploited and abused". She adds: "I think the government's response is a bit of a missed opportunity, because we need stronger laws on abduction and exploitation to stop these crimes, stronger requirements for institutions to respond, but also stronger prevention with compulsory sex and relationship education in schools."

     
  71.  
    12:58: Clegg talks religion

    Despite being well-known as an atheist, Nick Clegg has given an interview to Premier Christian Radio. The deputy prime minister said he attends mass most weeks with his wife and children and does so "with great joy". "I sometimes think it must be the most wonderful thing to be infused with faith. It's not something that's happened to me, it's not happened to me yet and I would embrace it." He said he might be an atheist but had "never had that much time for what I call vociferous secularism", adding: "I'm always a bit sceptical of anyone who acts with raging certainty about anything."

     
  72.  
    12:55: Sex education response House of Commons Parliament

    Here's what Nicky Morgan had to say in response to Tristram Hunt's request for her support on sex education: "I am fully in favour of full PSHE education on consent. But it has to be excellent, it can't just be about ticking boxes."

     
  73.  
    12:51: Sex education House of Commons Parliament

    Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt, at the end of a long list of questions to Nicky Morgan, calls for "age-appropriate statutory sex and relationship education to teach young people about consent and healthy sexual relationships". Her agreement would result in cross-party backing for the idea, he says.

     
  74.  
    12:51: 'Brave' victims House of Commons Parliament
    Nicky Morgan

    Oxford West MP Nicola Blackwood, who is a member of the home affairs select committee, asks Nicky Morgan to make it a "personal priority to ensure survivors [of child sexual exploitation] have the long-term and sustainable support they need". "We must not only pay tribute to the victims for their bravery in coming forward but we must also recognise such serious abuse has long-term and complex consequences," she says. The education secretary, above, says she can be reassured the government will do all it can to help them.

     
  75.  
    12:47: Survivors' fund House of Commons Parliament

    There will be a £7m fund to support victims and survivors of child abuse and sexual exploitation, Nicky Morgan adds. But Labour MP for Oxford East Andrew Smith calls for a public inquiry, saying child protection services were "chaotic" and there was a "failure to act on clear evidence on sexual exploitation".

     
  76.  
    12:45: 'Broken windows matter' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    David Lammy

    David Lammy, whose report for Policy Exchange has prompted debate today about police's ability to deal with crime, calls for a "debate with the public about whether we still take theft seriously or not". He insists that "broken windows matter" because failing to address low-level crime will only result in more serious crime taking place. Commentator Tim Montgomerie says crime is a "success story" for the government but accepts "there are parts of the country where crime is still a daily problem".

     
  77.  
    12:43: 'Horrific abuse' House of Commons Parliament

    Nicky Morgan is summarising the measures the government is taking to ensure the "horrific abuse" detailed in the Oxford report is "stamped out" and never happens again. David Cameron will chair a meeting of ministers, police and council safeguarding officers later.

     
  78.  
    12:39: Morgan abuse statement House of Commons Parliament

    Foreign Office questions has now come to an end. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is now making a statement about the serious case review into child sexual abuse in Oxford, saying what has emerged in the report is "sickening". She says child abuse had been a "scourge in many communities around the country".

     
  79.  
    12:36: Diplomatic language House of Commons Parliament

    Ever wondered how many UK diplomats speak Russian or Arabic? Tory MP John Baron is curious, suggesting that linguistic shortcomings may have contributed to the UK being "unsighted" over recent developments in Ukraine or the Middle East. Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood says there are 170 Arabic-speaking mandarins in his department and a similar number of Russian speakers.

     
  80.  
    12:35: National security Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Margaret Beckett

    Margaret Beckett, chair of parliament's national security strategy committee, is on the Daily Politics explaining why she and her fellow parliamentarians have released a report criticising the government for its limited interest in developing a strategy. "What there doesn't seem to us to be is the kind of coordinated approach that we'd hoped for," she says. More broadly, she says fears about defence cuts are a "legitimate anxiety". The government hasn't been able to make decisions, having stepped back to consider the bigger picture. "They identify high-priority risks but they don't necessarily link them to the spending decisions," she says.

     
  81.  
    12:30: Religious freedoms House of Commons Parliament

    Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander says a new job is needed in the Foreign Office: a global envoy for religious freedom, reporting to the foreign secretary, which he says a Labour government will create. Philip Hammond sounds unimpressed. "Our general approach is to try to get things done," he says, by using the tools already in place. "I don't think simply creating new posts delivers in quite the way the shadow foreign secretary thinks."

     
  82.  
    12:27: Benefit sanctions The Guardian
    Nick Boles

    Business minister Nick Boles has criticised the government's "inhuman" benefit sanctions regime, the Guardian reports. It quotes him telling constituents the current system does "need to be looked at".

     
  83.  
    12:20: 'Hidden from view' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    The eye-catching move by the government to impose criminal sanctions on those who fail to ensure the children they're responsible for are protected from sexual exploitation is in line with rules already in place in the NHS, Cllr David Simmonds, from the Local Government Association, tells the Daily Politics. "It's absolutely clear this has been hidden from view - we need to make sure that mums and dads know the signs, that teachers know the signs when they pop up in the classroom."

     
  84.  
    12:21: Wrong question House of Commons Parliament

    A little light relief in the Commons as Labour's Mary Glindon realises she has asked the wrong question. She apologises and changes tack - pressing ministers on the use of the death penalty around the world.

     
  85.  
    12:19: 'Off the rails' House of Commons Parliament
    Philip Hammond

    Philip Hammond tells MPs that the European Union has "gone off the rails" over the past 20 years and substantial reforms are needed, "not just some backroom deal". He says the Conservatives' pledge of a referendum has "lit a fire" under the situation in Europe and claims that he has the backing of at least 23 other members for its position.

     
  86.  
    12:16: Child sexual exploitation: a national threat? Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor
    A child in Rotherham

    The thing that really stands out for me, Norman Smith tells the Daily Politics, is Mr Cameron's decision to categorise child exploitation as a "national threat". At one level that is to ensure police forces cooperate with each other in trying to tackle child sexual exploitation. At another it is an attempt to give a wake-up call to the nation. Mr Cameron's view is it is a national moment because he believes it is endemic, not confined to one or two towns.

     
  87.  
    12:11: Iranian diplomacy House of Commons Parliament

    Former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt says he's soon going to be welcoming the first delegation of Iranian parliamentarians to visit Britain in a very long time. This is good news, Human Rights Minister Tobias Ellwood believes. "It's through full and frank engagement we can get our message across," he says.

     
  88.  
    12:06: Now on your TV screens... Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Over on BBC2, the Daily Politics is now underway, with journalists Tim Montgomerie and Steve Richards offering their views at the start of the programme. You can watch by clicking on the 'live coverage' tab at the top of this page.

     
  89.  
    11:59: Russia sanctions House of Commons Parliament

    Labour backbencher Willie Bain calls for tougher sanctions against Russia, and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond agrees that they should be strengthened immediately. "We need to have that tool in place," he argues, in order to incentivise Russia into complying with the timetable set out in Minsk. "Our role has been, is, and will remain, to stiffen the resolve of all 28 EU members to be united and to be aligned with the United States in deploying what has been a very powerful weapon."

     
  90.  
    @Kevin_Maguire Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror

    tweets: Awful Oxfordshire sex abuse scandal in Cameron's backyard echoes Rotherham. Sack this council too?

     
  91.  
    11:56: Space-age Britain
    Virgin Galactic

    The government's search for a British spaceport has made some progress today, with the number of potential locations on the shortlist narrowed down to just six. These are:

    • Campbeltown Airport
    • Glasgow Prestwick Airport
    • Llanbedr Airfield
    • Newquay Cornwall Airport
    • RAF Leuchars
    • Stornoway Airport

    The next step, according to this morning's consultation response, is working out more clearly what exactly a spaceport actually is. "The government is developing a detailed technical specification of spaceport requirements to increase understanding of 'what is a spaceport' and the detailed technical requirements for spaceplane operations," it says. More in our story here.

     
  92.  
    11:50: Tony Blair's future House of Commons Parliament
    Foreign Office questions

    Angus Robertson. the SNP leader in Westminster, asks whether the UK government still has confidence in Tony Blair's efforts as a Middle East peace envoy. "Mr Blair has made large number of visits to the region, he continues to engage," Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says, before adding: "And I've no doubt his role will be kept under constant review."

     
  93.  
    @paulwaugh Paul Waugh, editor of Politics.Home.com

    tweets: This is Philip Hammond's final Foreign Office Questions before the election. Will it be his final ever FCO Qs as Foreign Sec?

     
  94.  
    @Steven_Swinford Steven Swinford, deputy political editor, the Telegraph.

    tweets: Sir Malcolm Rifkind returns to political arena after cash-for-access scandal to urge govt to help Libya become 'moderate secular force'

     
  95.  
    11:45: Rifkind returns House of Commons Parliament

    Sir Malcolm Rifkind gets a loud "hear hear" from Conservative MPs before asking his question about helping democratic forces in Libya to create a "decent country". Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond laments that it's not as simple as just getting behind a democratic authority - because it's not clear exactly where that democratic authority comes from. "It is vital to our security that there is a stable government in Libya," he agrees. Of course, Sir Malcolm was in the headlines last week over a cash for access sting.

     
  96.  
    11:43: Commons under way House of Commons Parliament

    The Commons' sitting day has now begun, with proceedings starting after prayers with Foreign Office questions. Also coming up over lunchtime are an urgent question on child sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire; a further urgent question from home affairs committee chairman Keith Vaz on Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre; a statement from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on the independent investigation into Maternity Services at Morecambe Bay; and then a further statement from Housing Minister Brandon Lewis on the proposed new garden city at Ebbsfleet.

     
  97.  
    @BBCJamesCook James Cook, Scotland correspondent for BBC News

    tweets: First Minister @NicolaSturgeon confirms the SNP no longer wants a blanket 3% reduction in corporation tax, instead favouring targeted cuts.

     
  98.  
    @DeHavilland DeHavilland, political research organisation

    tweets: Speaker Bercow said in his #Speaker2015 lecture last night he'd granted 211 UQs. 2 more 2day takes that total to 213! Predecessor granted 2.

     
  99.  
    11:24: Government plans

    Theresa May's statement announces the following:

    • a new independent taskforce, which will work in local authorities where child abuse is a concern
    • a new centre of professional expertise to develop better approaches to tackling sexual abuse
    • a £1m campaign to raise awareness and give advice to anyone worried about a child
    • a national whistleblowing helpline for anyone concerned about failures to protect children
    • a new inspection system to ensure local agencies are working effectively
     
  100.  
    11:20: Theresa May statement

    This is the home secretary's written ministerial statement, published this morning, on the issue of child sexual abuse. We'll take a look at it in more detail shortly.

     

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