Sheffield MP defends his party after election results

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Sheffield MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has accused critics of over-exaggerating his party’s drop in popularity in the local elections.

Speaking to The Star, the Liberal Democrat leader was buoyed by an increased vote at the Fulwood by-election, where his party took 48 per cent of votes, up from 39 per cent in the ward last year on a similar turnout.

Although there was poor performance elsewhere, notably finishing seventh in the South Shields parliamentary by-election, Hallam MP Mr Clegg said: “What the local elections showed was quote straightforward – where we have MPs and activists, our vote stayed up.

“We’re not only holding our own, but gaining share of the vote in some areas such as at the Fulwood by-election.”

Mr Clegg also said the Lib Dems were right to withdraw support for Conservative plans to make childcare more affordable - by allowing nursery staff to look after larger groups. He said: “We listened to parents and experts who told us they didn’t like the idea two-year-olds might be looked after by people who are over-stretched.”