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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 May 2007, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Lib Dem leadership threat denied
Sir Menzies Campbell
Sir Menzies says the results are a 'mixed bag'.
Sir Menzies Campbell's future as Liberal Democrat leader is not under threat following Thursday's election results, frontbench colleagues insist.

Sir Menzies accepted the party had "mixed" results, with its share of the vote falling by one point to 26%.

It also lost control of four councils in the south of England to the Tories.

Press reports suggest discontent with Sir Menzies' leadership, but his chief of staff Ed Davey insisted no questions were being asked about his future.

"I think within the party they're not being asked," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I think if you look at our vote share this time which looks like it's more or less neck-and-neck with Labour: 26%,

"It's one of the better results that we've actually had over the last fifteen years in local government elections and yes, we've suffered some losses in England but if you look at the seats that we need to gain at the general election we've actually made progress even against the Conservatives in places like Eastbourne."

'Worse state'

The party's home affairs spokesman, Nick Clegg - seen by many commentators as a future leader - also rallied to Sir Menzies, comparing his leadership record with that of his predecessors Charles Kennedy and Paddy Ashdown.

We're fighting on both fronts in the way that the two larger parties can't - rural and urban - north and south
Nick Clegg, Lib Dem home affairs spokesman

"If you look at the equivalent figures of Charles' performance a year after he became leader or Paddy Ashdown I think they were in a considerably worse state than Ming is now.

"26% of the vote, I mean, I keep saying this over and over again: that really should I think drive home the message that - as confirmed by local election night results last year - three party politics is now a major fact of life in Britain.

"We're fighting on both fronts in the way that the two larger parties can't - rural and urban - north and south."

Meanwhile, Sir Menzies insisted he planned to remain leader up to and beyond the next election, expected in 2009/10.


The Tories' strategy of targeting Lib Dem supporters with their eco-friendly "vote blue, go green" message appears to have paid off in the South of England.

The Lib Dem vote was squeezed in traditional strongholds such as Torbay, Bournemouth, South Norfolk and Windsor and Maidenhead Royal, where it lost control to a resurgent Tory party.

The Tories also seized Malvern Hills, North Somerset, Waverley, South Ribble and Woking from no overall control, at the Lib Dems' expense.

The Lib Dem vote held up better in the North of England, where it gained control of councils in Hull and Rochdale.

Overall, the party lost 243 council seats and lost control of four town halls.

The BBC's projected share of the vote across Britain puts the Conservatives on 40% - one point up on 2006, with Labour on 27%, also one point up.

In Scottish Parliament elections, the Lib Dems won 16 seats - a net loss of one seat - and is considering entering a ruling coalition with the SNP, which became the largest party ahead of Labour by one seat.

A sticking point in any negotiations is likely to be the Lib Dems' insistence that they do not want a referendum on Scottish independence.

In Wales, the party kept six Assembly seats.


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