Lib Dems face ‘long, hard campaign’

Published: Friday 13th March 2015 by The News Editor

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The Liberal Democrats will begin gathering for their spring conference today with leader Nick Clegg warning they face a “long, hard campaign” in the run-up to May’s general election.

Activists will meet in Liverpool with the party’s opinion poll ratings in single figures and in the wake of a row over donations.

In the foreword to the conference agenda, Mr Clegg said the meeting was a chance to “set out our vision for the country” but also “celebrate our achievements in coalition”.

The Deputy Prime Minister said: “The next few days are an opportunity for our party to come together and prepare ourselves for the long, hard campaign ahead.

“It is our chance to further set out our vision for the country and explain to the British people how Liberal Democrats in government can make a positive difference to their everyday lives.”

The Press Association’s latest poll of polls indicated the Liberal Democrats are on 7.4% and face the prospect of losing dozens of MPs.

But Mr Clegg hopes the party will once again find itself holding the balance of power after May 7 and he encouraged activists to campaign on the party’s achievements in office.

He said: “We must take this record of delivery to the doorsteps, streets and town halls and campaign on our promise of more. No one else will do it for us, so it is up to us to shout from the rooftops that only with Liberal Democrats in government can we build the stronger economy and fairer society we need to create opportunity for everyone.”

The Liverpool conference, which begins with a rally addressed by election campaign chief and former leader Lord Ashdown, comes after a would-be MP was embroiled in a row over donations.

Former party fundraiser Ibrahim Taguri stood down as the Lib Dem election candidate in Brent Central after the Daily Telegraph reported that he told an undercover reporter posing as a wealthy Indian businessman that he could channel donations via family members and backdate cheques to avoid appearing on public registers.

He was also said to have promised big donations could “open doors” and introduced the fake donor to key figures including Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander.

In a statement, Mr Taguri said: “I am happy to co-operate with any investigation and I am confident that I will be exonerated of all the claims made against me. Not only do I deny the allegations made against me, I am capable of demonstrating that I have gone above and beyond the legal requirements in the interests of transparency.

“I will continue my campaign to become the next MP for Brent Central as an independent candidate with the intention of achieving the one thing I entered politics to do, to end child poverty in the UK by 2020.

“I look forward to clearing my name and returning to the Liberal Democrats.”

The main business of the conference will begin tomorrow, when activists will be asked to back policies to balance the nation’s budget by 2017/18 and a series of environmental measures, including a plan which could see speed limits outside English schools reduced to 10mph.

Published: Friday 13th March 2015 by The News Editor

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