Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited Lewes to lend his support to Norman Baker - calling him an ‘absolutely outstanding and popular MP’ - last week.
Mr Clegg was on the campaign trail in the run-up to May’s General Election and met with Liberal Democrat activists and volunteers at the party’s local headquarters in East Street on Wednesday.
Speaking to the Sussex Express the Lb Dem leader defended his party’s record in Government, saying they had delivered tax cuts, free school meals, cash increases in the state pension, the pupil premium, and a rise in apprenticeships.
He suggested that parties such as UKIP, the SNP and the Greens were all ‘peddling the politics of blame’ and felt it was very important to retain a liberal voice in British politics.
Mr Clegg said: “Norman has a very well deserved reputation for being a brilliant local MP for speaking his own mind and for having a campaign record on environmental issues, on transport issues, on one local issue to the next, which is second to none. He is quite rightly very proud of that and I’m very proud of his record as I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved in Government.”
Mr Baker, who has been Lewes’ MP since 1997 and was a home office minister for 13 months until his resignation back in November, said: “We’re pleased to see Nick and I think he’s been a very good leader of the party and a very good Deputy Prime Minister. He doesn’t always get the fair appraisal he should do from those in the national papers who push their own agenda and see the reporting of news as second to the purveying of their own prejudices.”
He warned that if voters left the party to vote Labour or Green they could end up with a Conservative MP or councillor in their areas.
The Lewes MP branded recent bus subsidy cuts made by the Tory-led East Sussex County Council as ‘heartless’ and urged councillors to think again.
He is also calling for more health services to be provided locally in places such as Seaford, Newhaven and Lewes to stop people having to travel to hospitals in Haywards Heath or Hastings for minor things like diagnostic testing.
On a national level Mr Clegg said their future plans would be to cut less than the Conservatives who had an ‘ideological approach to cutting services’, and borrow less than Labour, who in his view were ‘inexplicably refusing to set out how they are going to deal with the deficit’.
“We have the balanced approach that many people want,” Mr Clegg added.