Simon Hughes launches Lib Dem deputy bid

Simon Hughes today launched his bid to become deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, with the backing of outgoing deputy and Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Launching his candidacy in his south London constituency, Mr Hughes said he already had pledges of support from 25 Lib Dem MPs - just four short of the 29 votes needed to win the June 9 ballot.

The Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP is regarded as being on the left of the party and may be viewed as a focal point for activists uneasy about the coalition with Tories, but he has been publicly supportive of the deal which brought Lib Dems into government.

Despite being a frontbench spokesman for much of his 27-year parliamentary career and holding the energy and climate change brief in the run-up to this month's election, Mr Hughes was not rewarded with a ministerial job in the Tory-Lib Dem Government.

He said today he aimed to ensure that the Liberal Democrats remain a "strong, supportive but independent voice within and around the coalition".

Mr Hughes, 59, is the second candidate to throw his hat into the ring following Mr Cable's surprise resignation as deputy leader on Wednesday. Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron announced yesterday that he will be a candidate, with the backing of former leader Sir Menzies Campbell.

Announcing his candidacy under a slogan declaring him "the life and soul of our party", Mr Hughes said: "After campaigning for three decades for liberal democracy in Bermondsey and Old Southwark, London and around the country, it would be a great honour to serve my party as deputy leader.

"Our party is at the beginning of an exciting journey in a difficult and challenging time for our country.

"We are now in government and implementing Liberal Democrat policies for the first time in generations. The first UK coalition for 65 years will mean great changes and challenges for Liberal Democrat MPs and our party around the country.

"I believe that I have the strength and breadth of experience to make sure that our party is a strong, supportive but independent voice within and around the coalition. We must hold fast to our ambition to grow our party and expand the number and diversity of Liberal Democrat elected representatives at all levels of government in the five years ahead."

Mr Cable, a former Labour member who is also on the left of the Lib Dems, said Mr Hughes would "uphold the values of our party".

"Simon has given the most phenomenal service to the party over his 27 years as an MP. He represents the best traditions of the Liberal Democrats, both as a parliamentary campaigner and community activist," said the Business Secretary.

"Simon is the person best placed to follow me as deputy leader and uphold the values of our party."

Mr Hughes, who entered Parliament in a 1983 by-election and served as Lib Dem president from 2004-08, has twice stood for the Lib Dem leadership but lost on both occasions - to Charles Kennedy in 1999 and to Sir Menzies in 2006.

MPs with the required backing of five colleagues by the time the parliamentary party meets next Wednesday will go forward to a ballot of the 57 Lib Dem MPs on June 9.

Mr Hughes's low key launch took place at the Salmon youth centre in Bermondsey with an audience which included children from a local primary school.

He said Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg had his full support and part of his own role if elected would be to show the public that the party had not "sold out".

He said: "The challenge for us as a party is to be seen to be different from the Tory Party but also to make sure that we take on successfully the Labour Party."

He described the coalition as "the most fantastic opportunity" for the party, adding: "Of course there are risks. We could have stepped away, we could have said a Tory minority government can run the country but that would have been shirking our responsibility."

He said although it would be "fantastic" to be a minister in the coalition his own skills and experience meant he was best equipped to "make sure the party feels represented in Parliament".

Asked about a role as deputy leader, he said: "It's about making sure the public keeps on hearing where there are differences and knows that we haven't sold out."

He said the party voice must continue to be heard on issues such as nuclear weapons and the environment.

Mr Hughes added he would expect a "fair minded" Speaker in the Commons to come to the Lib Dem deputy leader third, after the Tories and the Labour Party.

He said: "It would be a nonsense if nearly seven million people didn't see and hear our point of view on a regular basis."

Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice