Vince Cable insists Nick Clegg is ‘resilient enough’ to get through criticisms
VINCE CABLE yesterday came to the defence of Nick Clegg, insisting his colleague 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 them off as no more than 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 said. “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, former treasury spokesman Lord Oakeshott, publicly warned last week that the party may need a change of “management and strategy” if it was to stand any chance at the next general election.
Sir Menzies Campbell also endorsed his successor’s continued leadership of the Liberal Democrat party.
“[Nick Clegg) is in charge of his brief and he in charge of his party,” he said.
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 its 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, said 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,” he said. “Vince Cable possesses the appeal and the credibility to lead the Liberal Democrats into the next election.”
Andrew Bridgwater, vice-chairman of Devon and Cornwall regional party and chairman of the Liberal Democrat education association, went even further, calling on Mr Clegg to go.
“The sooner Nick resigns and creates a vacancy for Vince, the better,” he said.
“To put it bluntly, I would encourage Vince Cable to stand for the leadership to take us into the next election.”
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