A FORMER Hampshire MP has joined a chorus of Liberal Democrats calling for party leader Nick Clegg to stand down.

Sandra Gidley, ex Romsey MP, said someone credible was needed to lead the party – saying Clegg was not the “right face” any more.

Instead she backed Business Secretary Vince Cable to take over as an interim leader as he ''has been shown to be independent-minded within the coalition''.

In a TV interview she said: ''What we need over the next year is somebody to lead the party who is credible, who has questioned the coalition in the past, not seen to be in a love-in with David Cameron and has the confidence of the party.

''We should be making more of a case for what we have done in the coalition and we are not able to do that at the moment while we have Nick, as a leader, associated with some of the negative aspects of the coalition - the broken promises.

''It's not easy to say this because Nick did a stonking job for us at the last election but I do not think he is the right face for the Liberal Democrats at the next election and many others sadly agree.''

Mr Cable ''would be a very good choice'', she said. Then we see what we've got left after the General Election - the young turks can fight it out after a sensible period of time,'' she said.

Daily Echo: Nick Clegg

She was joined in her calls by would-be Winchester MP Jackie Porter who is set to fight the Tory-held target seat in next May's general election.

She said the party was ''not going forward with a clear strategy''.

The county councillor said the party's achievements were overshadowed because Mr Clegg ''allowed himself to be portrayed as just another pea out of the same pod'' as David Cameron and Ed Miliband.

To win back support, the party needed to demonstrate it was different, she said.

Cllr Porter declined to say who she would like to see take Mr Clegg's place.

An open letter signed by 600 party members says voters have delivered a ''stark message about the party's performance and direction''.

''We consider it vital that at the 2015 General Election the party should be led by someone who will receive a fair hearing about our achievements and ambitions for the future,'' it says.

''It is clear to us that this person is not you, as the loss of so many of our hard-working councillors highlights.

''You have fulfilled a range of objectives in Government, but we now believe that progress will be best achieved under a new leader.

''We therefore ask that you stand down, allowing the membership to select your successor this summer.''

If Mr Clegg refuses to quit, a leadership contest would be triggered if 75 local party associations formally demanded one, or if a majority of the parliamentary party approved a no-confidence motion.