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Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:30PM
Nick Clegg, Britain’s Liberal Democratic party chief, and deputy prime minister

Nick Clegg, Britain’s Liberal Democratic party chief, and deputy prime minister

A new survey has found that almost half of the UK Liberal Democratic party’s membership want party chief Nick Clegg to quit before the next general election in 2015. The polling commissioned by the Liberal Democrat Voice website showed 46 percent of the Lib Dems, the junior party to the coalition government, prefer someone else at the helm who is less closely linked with the ruling Conservatives. Some 47 percent of the respondents said they wanted Clegg to remain as party chief and deputy prime minister into the next election, according to the survey. Stephen Tall, co-editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, said the poll findings would be deeply uncomfortable for Clegg. "Even three months ago, Nick Clegg's leadership wasn't seriously being questioned by many within the party, with calls for his resignation mostly confined to mavericks such as Lembit Opik. Two factors have, I think, changed the equation," Tall said in a post on his website. "First, the coalition's troubles - from the unravelling of [the Chancellor] George Osborne's budget to the collapse of Lords reform - means many more Lib Dems are increasingly unhappy about being in alliance with the Tories, even though few reckon there's an immediate alternative. For many, in our party and beyond, Nick Clegg personifies the coalition. And just as party members are now starting to look ahead to post-coalition times, so are folk also starting to think whether life would be any easier for the party without Nick at the helm”, he wrote. "Secondly, Nick Clegg is more exposed now than he was in May because of Vince Cable's recent hints that he is limbering up for the leadership. Vince [the business secretary] is staggeringly popular within the party, as our surveys show, and he has made no bones about the fact that he sees the coalition as a necessity of the electoral maths, not a natural partnership of like-minded souls", Stephen Tall said. On May 2010 general elections, the Liberal Democrats managed to collect 24 percent of the vote, but their popularity plummeted gradually after they joined the coalition. Now, they regularly poll below 10 percent. MOL/JR/HE
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