Nick Clegg has announced that he intends to stand for election in the 2015 General Election and will remain the leader of the Liberal Democrats. He has also confirmed that he will stand again in his constituency of Sheffield Hallam.
I have long thought that the only way the Liberal Democrats stand a chance of avoiding being wiped out in the 2015 election is to get rid of Nick Clegg as soon as possible. Clegg, for right or for wrong, has become among the country’s most hated and least trusted politicians as a result of his decision to enter into a coalition government with the Conservative Party. The government has broken many Liberal Democrat manifesto promises, most famously not to introduce tuition fees in England and Wales – which has severely depleted Lib Dem support from one of its largest bases: students. His leadership has seen the party decline from a peak of over 20% in opinion polls down to an average of 10%, and dramatic losses in local council elections, as well as in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election. The party has also failed in its other aims, such as to replace the First Past the Post electoral system and to reform the House of Lords.
I do not personally believe Clegg deserves this level of public anger – government policies would be far worse with a Conservative majority – but it is obvious that few will be willing to vote for a party he represents. His image was even used in the ‘Vote no to AV’ campaign leaflets as a reason to vote ‘no’ in the referendum! (“Voting yes would make this man happy”)… If the Liberal Democrats are to go forward and regain any of the trust they lost, as unfair as it is, Clegg will have to go.