UK Politics

Nick Clegg: I won't resign despite election losses

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionNick Clegg: "It's never easy to see dedicated, hardworking Liberal Democrat councillors lose ground"

Deputy PM Nick Clegg reflected on a "mixed night" after his party suffered big losses in council elections.

The Lib Dem leader said he would not be resigning and said a "very strong anti-politics mood" was behind the results.

With 157 councils declared, his party had lost more than a third of the seats it was defending, down 284 councillors.

The BBC's projected national share of the vote suggests the Lib Dems would have got 13% support if it had been a Britain-wide election.

Mr Clegg told BBC News: "It's not easy, it's never easy, to see dedicated hard-working Liberal Democrat councillors lose ground."

He said he believed the party was still right to have entered coalition with the Conservatives, and would "absolutely not" be resigning whatever the outcome of these elections.

The story of the Lib Dems elections included:

  • Losing control of Kingston-upon-Thames council to the Conservatives
  • Being left without a single councillor in Manchester
  • A heavy defeat in Bristol, losing six councillors
  • Comfortably seeing off UKIP in Eastleigh council
  • Being replaced by the Green Party as the official opposition in Liverpool
  • Losing control in Portsmouth as former Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock lost his seat
  • Holding on to control in Sutton

Sir Malcolm Bruce, the party's deputy leader, said Kingston and Portsmouth involved "very difficult local circumstances".

He said the party had fared well in areas where it had sitting MPs, such as Eastleigh, where UKIP failed to win a seat, and the constituencies of Birmingham Yardley MP John Hemming and Mid Dorset and North Poole's Annette Brooke.

But the Lib Dems lost 14 of their 23 seats in Haringey which contains government minister Lynne Featherstone's parliamentary seat.


Reacting to the results, she told the BBC that UKIP had "managed to sound like human beings".

"That's Nigel Farage's big win," she said. "I think all of us have got to the point where we are so guarded, so on-message, that we seem to have lost some of our humanity."

She told BBC News the party could lose half of its 732 seats up for grabs at this election and that being in government had cost the party some of its "humanity".

Reacting to the Lib Dems' projected share, Prof John Curtice, of the University of Strathclyde, said: "By the standards of Liberal Democrat history in local government elections, 13% is frankly an abysmal performance."

The party is braced for heavy losses in the European elections, which were also held on Thursday, with some senior figures worried they could lose all 12 of their MEPs.

The results are due to start coming in late Sunday, when counting gets under way across the EU.

Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "We take a kicking for the things the government does that are unpopular and it does reflect on us."

But he dismissed suggestions that Mr Clegg's future as Lib Dem leader could be called into question if the party endured a poor night, saying: "There isn't a leadership issue and I think he has enhanced respect as a result of being willing to engage with these very difficult issues."