The Liberal Democrats will eventually be rewarded for rescuing the country, party president Tim Farron has told the North East.
Speaking at the launch of the party’s local election efforts in Newcastle, the MP said he believed voters would eventually return to the party as they realise the Lib Dems made “the right decisions in tough circumstances.”
The Lib Dems face a difficult task in this May’s local and European elections. Polls suggest the party could lose their European MP as the UK Independence Party looks to take on protest voters. Mr Farron though said he was happy for the May battle to be one between the arguments for and against staying in the European Union.
He told The Journal: “I’m never worried about polls, any election is there for the winning. UKIP and the Lib Dems are clearly the major competitors, not just in this region, but across the country and this election will show that.
“If you want to lose the 150,000 North East jobs dependant upon membership of the EU then you should vote UKIP. I don’t agree with them, but I respect the clarity of their position.
“If you have no opinion and want your vote to be wasted then vote Labour or Tory, they have nothing to say on Europe.
“I’m not crazy about the EU, who is, but if you think the pragmatic interest of staying in and keeping jobs at say Nissan is worth it then vote Lib Dem.
“We will not let dogma and extremism get in the way of securing those jobs.”
The most recent polls put UKIP behind Labour in the race for Northern MEP seats, suggesting both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems will lose their North East seats in the election on May 22.
Asked when the Lib Dems, who lost control of Newcastle City Council in 2011, would return to power in the city, Mr Farron said it was clearly not going to be this May.
“I have a great personal affection for this city and my hope and expectation for this council is that we will take back control before the decade is out.
“The bottom line is, whether you blame Labour, or the bankers, or like most normal people a combination of the two, the reality is that we inherited a basket case.
“The previous Liberal Government was 1910, the last government with any Liberals in it was the Second World War, and if you were going to end your 70 years out of power you probably would not have chosen 2010.
“Thanks to a combination of Gordon Brown and the bankers the country was absolutely crashed, so you could only make tough decisions, difficult decisions and I don’t blame people for the way they reacted from 2010 onwards, but I think now when you can very clearly see we were right and a recovery is coming, we called it right.
“Politicians who have the back bone to do what is right, even if it is personally difficult for them, and call it right, generally get rewarded at the end.”
Mr Farron was in Newcastle on the day Culture Secretary Maria Miller resigned, an expenses controversy which he said could largely have been avoided.
“I think it is a bit vulgar for politicians to go after people in these sort of circumstances. We have a new system now, she did what she did under the old system.
“My take is she handled the situation poorly.
“In the end it was her decision to resign, and the question now is how do we rebuild the trust in politics?”