Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, is a “toxic” figure on the doorstep, a Liberal Democrat frontbench spokesman said today.
Lord Storey, the party’s education spokesman in the Lords and former leader of Liverpool City Council, said: "Knocking on doors in Liverpool, I have to tell you that Nick Clegg is not a popular person. And some might use the word toxic.”
He told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme: "I find this very, very difficult because I know Nick very well and I see a principled person who passionately believes in what he's doing, and he's a nice guy."
Although the Lib Dems now have only three councillors in Liverpool, members in the city voted by a margin of four to one to stick with Mr Clegg rather than to force a leadership contest. He is expected to see off moves by his critics to force him out before next year’s general election.
Chris Davies, who lost his seat after 15 years as a MEP in last month’s European elections, said the Lib Dems should now adopt the Conservative promise of an in-out EU referendum as a “lancing of the wound” after the party’s catastrophic results.
Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Lib Dem leader, said: "Nick Clegg is a man of principle. He's a man of enormous resilience, if you consider what he's had to put up with, my view is quite clearly that he is the person best qualified to lead the party between now and the general election, through the election campaign, and beyond."