'Keep calm' in battle with right-wing Tories, Lib Dems told

 

Liberal Democrats have been told to "keep calm" in the coming battle with right-wing Tories over the future direction of the coalition.

Nick Clegg will also urge David Cameron to ignore the "siren voices" on the right of the Conservative Party and insist the coalition remain in the centre ground of politics.

The Lib Dem leader is under pressure to exert his influence on the Government after suffering major losses in the local polls. The party's London mayoral candidate, Brian Paddick, was forced into fourth place behind the Greens' Jenny Jones.

As yet there has been no major challenge to his leadership – bar that of former MP Lembit Opik – but Mr Clegg is on notice that he has 12 months to reverse his party's fortunes.

The Deputy Prime Minister is expected to launch a media offensive, beginning with The Andrew Marr Show today, to make the case for the Lib Dems being in power. There will be no let-up in the "differentiation" policy, to be more distinct from the Tories, even though it failed to prevent a repeat of last year's election bloodbath. The Lib Dems suffered heavy losses in Thursday's local polls, losing 336 seats – far worse than the 250 predicted.

Friends of Mr Clegg say he has made clear to Mr Cameron that he is determined to keep the Government "anchored in the centre ground" and will publicly go into battle with the "siren voices" on the right of the Tory party. "There are always people saying the Government has got to be more right wing. The task for the Lib Dems is to make sure we remain rock solid in the face of that."

Lib Dem MPs have been told to "keep calm", notably in the battle to secure House of Lords reform, a key manifesto commitment and now a lightning rod for disquiet among Tory MPs. A source said: "All we are saying is we should elect the people who govern us."

Mr Clegg was criticised yesterday by Tavish Scott, a former Scottish Lib Dem leader, who said he missed a "tremendous" opportunity to attack Mr Cameron over his links to the media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Writing in The Scotsman, he said: "Murdoch should have been a gift to the UK Lib Dems."

The SNP increased its tally of councillors by 57, compared with results from 2007, and remains the largest party spread across Scotland's 32 councils.

In 2013, most of the local polls are in the shire authorities, where Lib Dems and Tories do battle in county and district councils. Lib Dems have taken heart from the fact that the party made gains against the Tories in the south, including in Brentwood, the constituency of Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary. The party held on to power in Cheltenham, Eastleigh, Three Rivers, in Hertfordshire, and South Lakeland, but lost Cambridge, previously a stronghold.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own