By Tim Montgomerie
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The Independent on Sunday reports that the Liberal Democrats have struggled to recruit council candidates for next month's elections:
"With the close of nominations last week, figures show that the Lib Dems are putting forward 1,552 candidates in England, compared to 2,120 for Labour and 2,151 for the Tories. In Wales the Lib Dems are fielding 281, compared to Labour's 662 and the Tories' 424 – although the party is traditionally less strong here. In Scotland, they are fielding 245 compared to 494 Labour candidates and 360 Tories."
The IoS blames widespread disillusionment within the party for the Lib Dems' thinning ranks:
"Party insiders blamed widespread disenchantment with the Lib Dem leadership and ministers, who have agreed coalition policies on reform of the NHS and higher tuition fees. While Mr Clegg has fought to temper a backlash over state monitoring of individuals' use of the internet by insisting he has won a consultation on the proposals, deep concern over civil liberties is spreading through the party grassroots. A letter signed by 157 activists to the party's president, Tim Farron, warned that Mr Clegg was putting at risk the core identity of the Lib Dems by supporting the "snooping" plans."
Earlier in the week Harry Phibbs noted that – unlike the Conservatives – the LibDems are not running a full slate of candidates in either Liverpool or Newcastle – two cities which they controlled until recently. It appears that there is indeed something yellow about the Liberal Democrats when it comes to tough fights.