Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Election Blow to Clegg as Authors Desert Him

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Election Blow to Clegg as Authors Desert Him

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy, Joy Lo Dico and Craig Woodhouse

NICK CLEGG suffered a damaging blow at the start of the crucial Oldham byelection today when novelist Jeanette Winterson angrily withdrew her backing for him.

The award-winning author told the Standard she had quit the Liberal Democrats and was so angry with its leader she was willing to organise a breakaway party.

Winterson was among celebrities and academics who signed an open letter endorsing Mr Clegg and his party during the general election campaign. But she said: "I wouldn't sign it again and I wouldn't support them. Nick Clegg might as well become a Tory moderate.

"The rest, well, we need a new party.

I am ready to organise."

Her move comes days after actor Colin Firth said he was leaving the party because of Mr Clegg's broken promise to oppose any rise in student fees.

Mr Clegg this afternoon moved a writ to launch the Oldham East & Saddleworth battle. Labour officials predicted they would win the seat left vacant when former Immigration Minister Phil Woolas was expelled from parliament for lying about his Lib-Dem opponent.

Author Philip Pullman also said today he "never would have signed" a letter supporting the Liberal Democrats had he known they would form a coalition with the Conservatives.

Mr Pullman said: "If I'd known when I signed that letter that the Liberal Democrats were going to go into coalition with the Conservatives I would have urged people to vote Green instead. Quite clearly the promises the Liberal Democrats were elected on bear very little relation to what they are doing now. I fear they are going to fall apart. Some people who voted Liberal Democrat are more at home intellectually and emotionally with a Left-of-centre party."

Sociologist Richard Sennett, another signatory of the letter on April 28, is now advising Ed Miliband. …

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