EU elections 2014: Lib Dem members launch online petition for ‘toxic’ Nick Clegg to resign

 

An attempt to oust Nick Clegg as Liberal Democrat leader was made tonight by activists appalled by the party’s performance in the local elections.

The Independent has learnt that a group of grassroots members launched an online petition, #libdems4change,  urging Lib Dems to demand a leadership contest so the party can install a new leader this summer.

In an open letter to Mr Clegg, they say: “This week the electorate has delivered another stark message about the party’s performance and direction. We have lost hundreds of brilliant councillors across the country and in some areas we have lost every seat we were defending.”

They tell the Deputy Prime Minister: “We consider it vital that at the 2015 general election the party should be led by someone who will receive a fair hearing about our achievements and ambitions for the future. It is clear to us that this person is not you, as the loss of so many of our hardworking councillors highlights.

“You have fulfilled a range of objectives in government, but we now believe that progress will be best achieved under a new leader. We therefore ask that you stand down, allowing the membership to select your successor this summer.”

 

Organisers said the move had already been backed by a broad cross-section of party members. Early signatories included Sandra Gidley, the former MP for Romsey.

Seth Thevoz, another backer, said: “Even the best Liberal Democrat candidates, councillors and councils have come up against a brick wall. It is simply impossible for the party to make any headway so long as it is led by Nick Clegg.  There is a serious trust deficit – rightly or wrongly, nothing Clegg says can be taken seriously by the electorate. To the British public, Clegg is toxic.”

Read more: Full local election results

Mr Clegg insisted he would not resign, blaming the council results on an “anti-politics” mood. His party lost more than 260 council seats and was ousted from power in Kingston-upon-Thames and Portsmouth. It ended with its smallest presence in local government since the 1980s.

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