NICK CLEGG has defended the Liberal Democrats’ low profile campaign in Yorkshire insisting it will be activists on the ground who make the difference.
The Lib Dem leader argued candidates defending their own record will have more of an impact on the election result than visits by the party’s frontbenchers.
The party’s approach as it fights to fend off Labour challenges in Leeds North West and Bradford East has been in stark contrast to Labour and the Conservatives who have bombarded marginal seats in Yorkshire with visits from their leaders and principal spokesmen.
Mr Clegg said: “Whilst I would love to think a visit from a senior Liberal Democrat will change the political weather, I actually think what Greg (Mulholland) says about his local record, what David (Ward), says about his local record - both of which are fantastic local records - is immeasurably more important than whether they have visits bestowed upon them or not.
“I am sure there are plans for them to be visited but I wouldn’t in any way extract from that some great conclusion about the state of the campaigns there.”
There was also a tacit admission from Mr Clegg - who some voters have yet to forgive over the Lib Dem U-turn on tuition fees - that his presence may not be helpful to every Lib Dem candidate.
I’m really confident im going to win but absolutely not complacent.Nick Clegg
“I’m not going to hide from you that where I go tends to be focused on seats where it really gives a bit of an extra push or boost in those places so if anything the fact they are not receiving a bevy of high profile visits I would suggest to you suggests that we feel we are doing well in both of those seats,” he said.
The Lib Dem leader said the last election - where the party enjoyed a higher profile but ultimately lost seats - showed “media hype is not everything”.
“What you say to people on the doorstep, what you do locally, what you show locally that you have done for people and what you want to do in the future is always the guts of an election campaign,” he said.
Mr Clegg is facing a strong challenge from Labour’s Oliver Coppard to hold on to his own Sheffield Hallam seat but he insisted he was getting a “really good” reaction on the doorstep.
“I’m really confident i’m going to win but absolutely not complacent.
“It is a contest as it should be and what we are finding is even people who are a bit iffy about the coalition, didn’t like this decision, didn’t like that decision, when push comes to shove they don’t want to give the keys of number 10 to Ed Miliband particularly if he’s just going to end up dancing to the tune of Alex Salmond.”
Earlier Mr Clegg had told Lib Dem supporters in his Sheffield Hallam constituency that they were the only party that could bring stability to the next government today.
Joined by wife Miriam, together in public on the campaign trail for the first time, he spoke to activists at the Devonshire Arms in Dore before they went out canvassing.
He said: “It is only the Liberal Democrats now who are the guarantee of stability, the guarantee of common sense, the guarantee and guarantors of stability and strength and fairness in the next Parliament just as we have been in this Parliament.”
IN FULL: OUR YORKSHIRE MANIFESTO...