The Liberal Democrats are lucky to have such an able and committed leader – and one with a lot to be proud of.
Nick Clegg has been a principled, honourable and brave leader of the Liberal Democrats. He has borne criticism, even insult and abuse, with remarkable grace, maintaining a political position based on reason and on strongly held values. Such politicians are rare. It would be absurd to demand his resignation now because some parliamentary candidates think that bowing to a populist anti-Europe campaign would somehow win their seats for them. As for polling in four seats reported today by the Guardian, the survey was conducted throughout April, undermining its credibility – and was clearly commissioned and leaked for political purposes.
Ukip, as Kenneth Clarke pointed out today, won the support of a little over a quarter of those who bothered to vote, more precisely 27% of the 34% who did. It was apathy rather than passionate opposition to the European Union that characterised an election in which so few voted. Ukip supporters are in general older than the population as a whole, and older people are more likely to vote. That may be one reason why Ukip has so few policies that address the problems of the future – climate change, inequality, poverty and lack of education (especially of girls) in large parts of the developing world.
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