Paddy Ashdown – former Liberal Democrat leader – has said that his party’s trust in David Cameron has been damaged as a result of fighting over the alternative vote.
In a furious tirade, Lord Ashdown continued that David Cameron had lost his faith after refusing to distance himself from the “regiment of lies” peddled by the no-to-AV campaign.
Slamming the no campaign’s attack on Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, Ashdown said that things in the coalition government would never be the same again.
Ashdown told the Guardian: “So far the coalition has been lubricated by a large element of goodwill and trust. It is not any longer.”
According to the former Lib Dem head, relations with the Tories will now be nothing more than “businesslike”.
Paddy Ashdown spoke out ahead of what looks likely to be Lib Dem defeat in the referendum on the alternative vote due to be announced today. As results emerge, the party also faces severe losses in the English council elections.
Ashdown is livid with the no-to-AV campaign for personal attacks on Clegg that accused the Liberal Democrat leader of broken promises on tuition fees and spending cuts.
“The bottom line is that Liberal Democrats are exceedingly angry. We believe there has been a breach of faith here. If the Conservative party funds to the level of 99% a campaign whose central theme is to denigrate and destroy our leader, there are consequences for that,” Ashdown said.
Speaking on ITV’s Daybreak, Ashdown said that Cameron had not made any attempt to distance himself from the bitter no campaign.
“Mr Cameron had many, many occasions to dissociate himself from a campaign – by the way, funded by his party – whose primary purpose was personalised politics attacking his principal coalition partner and spreading scaremongering.”
The Lib Dems are preparing or the worst today as the results of the AV referendum are announced.
Nick Clegg’s party have lost seats to Labour in former council strongholds in the north of England – including Sheffield where Clegg is an MP. In Scotland, the Scottish National Party has won Lib Dem seats.