Soul-searching ahead for demoralised party after worst results for 20 years

Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg faces turmoil and soul-searching within Liberal Democrat ranks after the party crashed to its worst local election result for nearly 20 years.

Allies are confident that threats of a grassroots leadership challenge or ministerial resignations will fail to materialise, but admit he faces a daunting task in rebuilding party morale.

The Liberal Democrats endured a particularly torrid night in the urban north of England, where left-leaning voters deserted the party in revenge for going into government with the Tories. They lost all 10 seats they were defending in Manchester, 10 out of 12 in Hull, 10 out of 16 in Newcastle upon Tyne and nine out of 15 in Sheffield.

In Liverpool, where the party lost 11 of 13 seats, its humiliation was heightened by the defeat of the former council leader, Mike Storey, at the hands of an 18-year-old Labour candidate. The party lost an astonishing 23 seats to Labour in Chesterfield and six in Birmingham.

The Liberal Democrats' performance in the Scottish parliamentary elections was equally dismal: they managed to come first only in the island seats of Orkney and Shetland.

Their vote share halved to less than 8 per cent in the elections to Holyrood, amid signs that tens of thousands of supporters had defected to the Scottish National Party. The Liberal Democrats drew some comfort from a better showing in a handful of southern councils, including Eastleigh, Bath and North-East Somerset and Portsmouth – all areas with high-profile Liberal Democrat MPs. As councillors represent the backbone of Liberal Democrat activists, the scale of the defeat is a savage blow to the party machine.

Gary Long, whose group on Nottingham City Council all lost its seats, demanded Mr Clegg's resignation. "Our chance of recovery will be better with a new leader," he told The Independent. "He is carrying the baggage of decisions like that on tuition fees."

There was little sign of a co-ordinated attempt to oust Mr Clegg. But he will face intense pressure from MPs to spell out more clearly the party's differences with the Tories. The moment of maximum difficulty for him is likely to be the party conference in September.

The Liberal Democrat blogger Mark Pack insisted: "The party has been in a worse state before and come back." But Benjamin Ramm, editor of The Liberal magazine, said: "This is not a gradual erosion of support but a collapse. The Lib Dems are no longer a national party."

News
John Moore inspired this Coca Cola Christmas advert
people

John Moore starred in Coca Cola and Morrisons adverts

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
people

Former boxer recalls incident when he was seven years old

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
A Rutherford Raiders shirt with the PornHub sponsorship
football

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser

Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
Apple CEO Timothy Cook
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film

Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study

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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Are you looking for a...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £100,000: SThree: If you would like to work fo...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission £100k +: SThree: Trainee Recru...

Senior Automation Tester – Permanent – West Sussex – Circa £40k

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes