Lord Matthew Oakeshott, who has resigned from the Liberal Democrats. Picture by Peter Boam.
A SENIOR Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Matthew Oakeshott, who has a home on the Isle of Wight, has quit the party warning it is heading for disaster under Nick Clegg’s leadership.
Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, a friend of business secretary Vince Cable, said the party had lost its roots, principles and values. He quit following the disastrous showing by the Lib Dems in both local council and European elections.
In a statement he said: "I am today taking leave of absence from the House of Lords and resigning as a member of the Liberal Democrats.
"I am sure the party is heading for disaster if it keeps Nick Clegg and I must not get in the way of the many brave Liberal Democrats fighting for change."
He said he left with a heavy heart, after helping to found the party in 1981.
*Lord Oakeshott was vice-president of the Isle of Wight Liberal Democrats until his resignation.
"I am so sorry I have upset and embarrassed my old friend Vince Cable and that we were not able to talk before he issued yesterday’s statement from China."
He said his decision followed polls he had commissioned in several constituencies, in which people were asked about the leadership of the Liberal Democrats.
He said: "The combined message of these five professional and reputable ICM constituency polls, Nick Clegg’s dire approval ratings year after year in all national polls and Thursday’s appalling council and European election results is crystal clear; we must change the leader to give Liberal Democrat MPs their best chance to win in 2015."
He added: "A few stout hearted MPs and peers and hundreds, maybe soon thousands, of candidates, councillors and Lib Dem members all over Britain are now fighting constituency by constituency for a leadership election. I have tried to give them the evidence they need to make the change.
"I pray they win, and that the right man, or preferably woman, is now elected to save the party."