According to a recent Ashcroft poll, Nick Clegg is on course to lose his seat in the general election. If he is ousted from Sheffield Hallam, the Deputy Prime Minister will follow in the footsteps of the Liberal leaders Archibald Sinclair and Herbert Samuel, who both lost their seats while leading the party.
Clegg is of course keen to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. So keen in fact, that Steerpike can now reveal the desperate lengths the Liberal Democrats leader has gone to in his fight to keep Labour from taking his seat.
According to the latest register of interests, Clegg has taken a total of £50,000 in donations since mid-March. In his hour of need, Clegg has been tapping up trusted party supporters, with the money coming from a range of donors including the Liberal Democrat peer Ian Wrigglesworth and Graham Tobbell:
- Graham Tobbell, the Lib Dem donor Clegg previously hosted at his 115-room official country residence, has given a donation of £20,000
- Ian Wrigglesworth, the Liberal Democrat peer, has donated £5,000
- Neil Sherlock, Clegg’s former special advisor, has given a donation of £10,500
- Duncan Greenland, the Chair of Trustees at Centre Forum, has donated£2,000
- Good Growth Ltd has given a donation of £2,500
- Michelle Quest, an international tax partner at KPMG, has donated £5,000
- Michael Young has given a donation of £5,000
Just how many leaflets he can print with the donation funds – given that the total sum exceeds the spending limit – is unknown, but Mr S suspects it may not be money well spent. The Ashcroft poll that spelled doom for Clegg noted that ’76 per cent [of those polled] said they had heard from Nick Clegg’s team’.
His Labour rival Oliver Coppard – who is two points ahead of Clegg according to the Ashcroft poll – certainly doesn’t seem rattled by the last-minute campaign funds. ‘From the reaction I’ve seen on the doorstep, it’s no surprise Nick Clegg is worried,’ Coppard tells Steerpike. ‘People in Sheffield Hallam feel let down by him, and no amount of misleading leaflets will help him win back their trust.’
Perhaps Clegg can use the funds towards a time machine instead?