Lib Dems have 'more chance of finding gold at the bottom of a rainbow' than in North East, says Labour

Nick Clegg's party has launched a fundraising drive in the region ahead of the General Election in 2015

Nick Clegg and Vince Cable visit Rolls Royce in Washington
Nick Clegg and Vince Cable visit Rolls Royce in Washington

Lib Dems fundraising for the next General Election in the North East have “got a nerve”, according to a Labour council leader.

Councillor Nick Forbes, of Newcastle City Council, says Nick Clegg’s party would have “more success looking for the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow” and that support for the party has collapsed in the region.

The Lib Dems have launched an appeal after having lost their sole MEP in Fiona Hall at the European elections in May.

Chairman of the North East Lib Dems Ian Jones said, however, said the party has pockets of support and cash is needed to retain seats in Berwick and Redcar.

He said: “The European election result in May was deeply disappointing but our performance in the local elections showed that we retain considerable support in many areas where we have hard-working representatives fighting to get the best deal for local people.

“We have a proud record of achievement in government but clearly we need to do more to get that message out to people. Nationally we have helped rescue the economy and deliver the growing recovery we are seeing in the North East.”

He added the party must differentiate itself from its Coalition partners to keep seats today held by Ian Swales in Redcar and Alan Beith in Berwick.

He said: “We want to continue building a stronger economy and a fairer society by further cutting income tax for low and middle earners and by helping business create a million more jobs by promoting apprenticeships and ensuring they have the financial support and infrastructure they need.

“Our challenge locally is to ensure we have the resources to be able to win in 2015. It is vital for jobs, fairness and prosperity in the region that we win in Berwick, Redcar and elsewhere next year, so we are starting now to ensure we have the finances to do so.”

But Coun Forbes said the Lib Dems’ image is now “toxic”.

He said: “People in the North East feel bitterly let down by the Lib Dems; it’s hard to think of a politician with a more toxic reputation on the doorstep than Nick Clegg, with the possible exception of Margaret Thatcher.

“After the massive and disproportionate cuts they’ve imposed on our region, they’ve got a nerve coming begging us for money; I hope they’ve not got too high a fundraising target in mind as their support in the North East has collapsed.

“The Lib Dems would have more success looking for the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow than asking the people of the North East for cash donations.”

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