Cable ally turns fire on Clegg ahead of 2015 poll

A senior Liberal Democrat yesterday indicated the party must oust leader Nick Clegg if it wants to avoid electoral disaster in 2015.

Lord Oakeshott, former Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, said it was time to examine the party’s “strategy and management” to ensure it has a chance of success at the polls.

The peer, a close ally of Business Secretary Vince Cable, also suggested the party should look towards coalition with Labour next time round.

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He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have lost over half our market share, if you like to put it that way if we had been Sainsburys, since the election and any business that had done that would be looking very hard now at both its strategy and its management to see how we get some of that back because otherwise we are going to lose a large number of seats at the next election.”

Opinion polls have proved uncomfortable reading for Liberal Democrats, with the party regularly hovering around the 11 per cent mark, while the Deputy Prime Minister’s personal popularity has consistently lagged behind that of Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour’s Ed Miliband.

Mr Clegg has this week found himself at the centre of a fresh political storm after suggesting the Government should introduce an emergency wealth tax to help fund the UK’s economic revival. The move was dismissed as the “politics of envy” by senior Tories and it was a cool response from Chancellor George Osborne.

Lord Oakeshott said elections were “not just about the message, they are also about the messenger” and called for the party to analyse how it could maximise its votes next time.

Describing Mr Clegg’s decision to take the party into government with the Conservatives as “brave”, he said Lib Dem grassroots were not against coalition but found working with the Tories “difficult”.

He added: “If you were Sainsbury’s you would look both at what happened to the brand and why. We do have a very good brand and very good policies which are popular but on things like the banks, sorting them out, like taxing the wealthy we have to fight very hard not just to put the message across but to get it implemented in government.”