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Britain's deputy PM under pressure to resign after election fiasco

Junior partners in the ruling coalition, the Liberal Democrats, suffer from backlash against modern 'Thatcherism'

Clegg 2011 5 6Enlarge
Liberal Democrat party leader Nick Clegg speaks to reporters outside his house on May 6, 2011 in London, England. The Liberals have suffered losses in the local elections held yesterday. (Peter Macdiarmid/AFP/Getty Images)

Britain’s deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, is under pressure to quit as leader of the junior coalition partner after his Liberal Democrats party bombed in local elections.

After less than a year in the job, David Cameron’s deputy is facing intense scrutiny after leading his party to their worst poll performance in 30 years, suffering heavy losses across the north of England, Scotland and Wales.

Clegg, leader of the centre-left Liberal Democrats, admitted his party was bearing the brunt of voter anger for the perception that under Cameron’s Conservative Party, with whom Clegg shares government, Britain has been dragged back to the Thatcherism of the 1980s.

Clegg said on Friday the party had taken "big knocks" in the local elections, The Guardian reported.

"Clearly what happened last night – especially in those parts of the country, Scotland, Wales, the great cities of the north, where there are real anxieties about the deficit reduction plans we are having to put in place ... we are clearly getting the brunt of the blame," said.

"To the many families in those parts of the country especially, there are some very strong memories of what life was like under Thatcherism of the 1980s and that's what they fear they are returning to. We need to get up, dust ourselves down and move on."

In the 1980s, Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dramatically changed Britain with deep budget cuts, a liberalization of the economy and strong attacks on unions.

Under the Lib Dem-Conservative coalition, which took power just under a year ago, Britain has again seen deep budget cuts to its public-sector, which forms a large part of the economy. The left-leaning Lib Dems were expected to temper the heavy-cutting instincts of the Conservatives but many of their supporters feel let down.

The former Lib Dem leader, Lord Paddy Ashdown, told The Guardian that the days when the coalition was "lubricated by a large element of goodwill and trust" were gone.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported that the political landscape in Scotland could change so dramatically as to revive the issue of Scottish independence.

Gary Long, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Nottingham City Council, has called on Clegg to step down, according to the Daily Telegraph.

“I'm in favour of the coalition but I think he's run it very badly and in my view he should resign immediately.”

Unlike the United States, Britain does not have state-level governments. The local elections held Thursday were to elect local councillors, who do a lot of the basic governance of issues such as housing, waste collection, council tax collection, education, libraries, social services, local planning.