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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Liberal Democrats are already delivering change and Clegg is leading the way

A small, and it has to be said, shadowy group called Liberal Democrats for change are gathering a petition calling on Nick Clegg to stand down so that a new leader can take the party into the general election. At the time of writing they have 200 signatures.

The Independent adds that a block of unnamed MPs are poised to join in this demand for Clegg's resignation, paving the way for the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, a possible "unity candidate", to take over in a "coronation" before next year's general election. They add that some are considering going public within days over their demands before the state opening of Parliament on 4 June.

We will see if this group ever emerges. Their problem it seems is that being in government and having to make compromises as a result is making the party unpopular. What did they expect?

I will write in more detail on the mistakes I believe that the party made in the recent elections once all the votes have been counted and we can see how badly (or well) we have done. However, it is worth pointing out that most of those now agitating signed up to this coalition with their eyes wide open.

The point is that Clegg has delivered change. He took the party into government for first time in nearly a century, he has delivered key Liberal Democrats policies from a position of weakness and he has moderated the worst excesses of a right wing Conservative Party.

He has made mistakes and we have had to accept some pretty appalling policies in the process of doing that, but the stability that Clegg and the party have brought to the country has helped to turn the economy around.

The future is uncertain, but in my view Clegg deserves to lead us into the next General Election and should do so.
Peter, I must respectfully disagree with you.

Nick Clegg is the problem rather than the solution. If he leads the Lib Dems into the next election the Lib Dem message will be lost against the backdrop of political toxicity that Nick now carries with him.

I don't object to coalitions, and they do require compromises. However, in making those compromises you do not fly in the face of your party's core values and beliefs. On too many of the big issues, Nick and his cabinet colleagues have done precisely that. It left me ashamed to carry the membership card, which is why I relinquished it two and a half years ago.

After last Thursday, I'm minded to come back and work with like-minded social liberals to rebuild. As disgusted as I am with the worst excesses of the Coalition, the prospect of no viable liberal force in British politics is even less palatable.

The time for change is now, not in 2015. There is still time to limit some of the electoral damage , but it requires social liberal rather than 'Orange Book' leadership.
A small, and it has to be said, shadowy group called Liberal Democrats ...
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