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Page last updated at 08:03 GMT, Friday, 6 May 2011 09:03 UK

Ashdown: 'A tough and painful night'

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The former Liberal Democrat leader, Lord Ashdown, has conceded that it has been a "tough and painful night" for his party after it suffered a huge electoral setback throughout the United Kingdom.

Defending the party's decision to enter into coalition with the Conservatives, he added that "we have to recognise perhaps with some humility, that there are many who gave us their vote who still believe that this was betrayal. It wasn't.

"But I think that we probably do need to realise it's going to take a bit longer to convince them that this was the right thing to do."

And he added that the No to AV campaign had diminished politics and the prime minister. "I've had a growing admiration for David Cameron recently - I think he's shown great statesmanship," he told Today presenter John Humphrys.

"But I'm bound to say the fact he did not disassociate himself from a campaign which I think diminished politics, as well as undermined his government, has diminished my respect for him and has diminished I think many Liberal Democrats respect for him and has diminished in my view the respect of people who believe that the politics of our country, the tone of that, is set by the Prime Minister. I regret that."

Throughout the UK the Liberal Democrats share of the vote is projected to have dipped below 15 per cent. They lost seats across Wales and Scotland, but their worst defeats were in England, particularly the north. The SNP is on course to achieve a majority in the Scottish Parliament, Labour is looking to take control of the Welsh Assembly, while the Conservatives have made modest gains in England.


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