Nick Clegg faces a ‘tough fight’, says Lord Ashdown on Sheffield visit

Paddy Ashdown visits Sheffield to lend his support to the Lib Dem campaign in the city

Paddy Ashdown visits Sheffield to lend his support to the Lib Dem campaign in the city

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Households in two Sheffield suburbs may have had a knock on their doors today from former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown.

Lord Ashdown, who is chair of the Lib Dems’ 2015 general election team, has been out and about in Fulwood and Ecclesall to voice his support for Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg.

Paddy Ashdown visits Sheffield to lend his support to the Lib Dem campaign in the city

Paddy Ashdown visits Sheffield to lend his support to the Lib Dem campaign in the city

Mr Clegg is set to face a challenge to keep his seat in May’s election as Labour candidate Oliver Coppard launches his bid for voters’ support.

In an exclusive interview with The Star, Lord Ashdown said: “I just adore days like this when I can go out and speak to, as it were, ‘ordinary’ people on their doorstep.

“There’s always a risk (of Mr Clegg losing his seat). No one here is pretending that it isn’t a tough fight.

“It’s a straight fight between us and Labour and we intend to win.”

Mr Ashdown, who battled Sheffield’s chilly temperatures and icy pavements today to pound the streets, said Mr Clegg had done a ‘phenomenal’ job as Sheffield Hallam MP and deputy prime minister since the last general election in 2010.

“I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t believe he had done a phenomenal job,” he said.

“It’s very difficult to make a major contribution to the government and country and also be recognised as an outstanding member for his constituency.

“For the very first time we have taken the reins of this government and we have helped to get this country out of an economic crisis.

“We have had to take some very tough decisions but as far as possible we have protected the poor and we have done some very radical things.

“I’m very, very proud of being in the same party as Nick.”

Mr Clegg last night appeared on Channel Four show The Last Leg, a comedy show which discusses current affairs.

Co-host Alex Brooker interviewed him live and quizzed him over his U-turn on student tuition fees.

Mr Brooker asked: “On a scale of 1-10, how bad do you feel about tuition fees?”

Mr Clegg replied: “I’m not Prime Minister. I can’t do everything I want.” He then added, “Nine and a half.”

Lord Ashdown said he was unable to catch the whole show but said he hoped people would not make their voting decision based on the tuition fees ordeal.

“How are you going to judge us?” he said.

“One unwise promise before the election, or four years of dragging the country out of a terrible recession?”

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