Vince Cable backs Nick Clegg to survive latest attacks on his leadership

 

Vince Cable today insisted that Nick Clegg would ride through the latest attacks on his leadership of the Liberal Democrats.

The Business Secretary, who has been touted as a possible replacement for Mr Clegg, brushed off the criticisms as no more than the normal mid-term blues.

"I don't give any time to these personal criticisms of Nick Clegg which are being made at the moment," he told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend.

"It is inevitable in the mid-term of parliament when party popularities wane, when difficult decisions are being made, that some of the activist base. That's happened many times before.

"The Tories are doing it, David Cameron has come under a lot of fire in the last few weeks, Nick Clegg has got the same. He's sufficiently resilient to ride through this, I think."

The latest bout of speculation was triggered when Mr Cable's close ally, the former treasury spokesman Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, publicly warned last week that the party may need a change of "management and strategy" if it is to stand any chance at the next general election.

With the Lib Dems continuing slump in the opinion polls, Mr Cable's intervention is unlikely to end the rumblings over Mr Clegg's leadership as the party approaches it's annual conference.

Over, the weekend a series of senior party figures came out to warn that the Deputy Prime Minister was not "indispensable".

Adrian Sanders, a veteran Lib Dem MP, told The Sunday Times that Mr Clegg needed to stop "just bumbling along worrying about the future" and to take action to rebuild support in the party.

His comments were echoed by the Lib Dem peer, Lord Smith of Clifton, a former professor of politics, who told the paper that Mr Clegg was "just a cork bobbing on the waves" with "no strategic vision at all".

"It's not as if Clegg is indispensable. Vince Cable possesses the appeal and the credibility to lead the Liberal Democrats into the next election," he was quoted as saying.

Andrew Bridgwater, vice-chairman of Devon and Cornwall regional party and chairman of the Lib Dem education association, went even further, calling on Mr Clegg to go.

"The sooner Nick resigns and creates a vacancy for Vince, the better," he told The Independent on Sunday. "To put it bluntly, I would encourage Vince Cable to stand for the leadership to take us into the next election."

PA

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