Ming: There is no leadership vacancy

Campbell: I still have a job to do
Campbell: I still have a job to do

Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell has insisted he does not need to step down as leader, in the light of their lacklustre performance in last month's election and David Cameron's increasing dominance in opposition.

Instead, Sir Ming vowed to remain as leader into the next parliament. In an interview in the Independent newspaper, he said he could not go while Lib Dem values still need defending.

"I have no intention of standing aside while that job needs to be done," he insisted.

Sir Ming insisted the Liberal Democrats were not being 'squeezed out' by the increasing convergence between the Conservatives and Labour. Although the traditional right and left wing distinction may have waned, he said a new spectrum had emerged on authoritarian and liberal parties - and here only the Liberal Democrats could claim to offer a liberal choice.

Similarly, he dismissed claims the Tories have stolen the Lib Dems' "green clothes", insisting Mr Cameron is all "warm words and no substance".

He blamed the media for promoting his image as an elderly leader of a lacklustre third party. He said the British media too often represents politics as a two-party race, but recognised the Lib Dems need to fight for more publicity. Furthermore age is "increasingly irrelevant" in Britain.

But, he said he would not employ the same media-friendly PR strategies of his opponent. Sidestepping what threatens to become the single greatest test of a political leader, he did not reveal if he has the Artic Monkeys on his iPod, declaring he prefers to listen to music in his car.

Sir Ming has been accused of underwhelming performances in prime minister's questions. He admitted it is a "tough environment", but said he focused on asking "worthwhile" questions to benefit people, rather than point scoring.

Turning his attention to concrete policies, Sir Ming said he would change Britain's foreign policy.

Tony Blair's "apparent subservience" to the US has damaged both nations, he claimed, and instead foreign policy should reflect British values and Britain's interests.

He also promised a greater role for MPs in the decision to go to war, saying he would only deploy troops with just cause and the support of the Commons and international law.

The UK's military presence in Iraq has now become "part of the problem rather than the solution", he said before calling for a phased withdrawal.


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