As the main political parties lick their Ukip-inflicted wounds after the local and European election result, it is Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg who appears to be the most critically injured.

Lib Dem persistent Tim Farron yesterday did his best to stem the flow of blood but his words of defiance are surely only a sticking plaster on damage which requires major surgery.

Mr Farron insists the party would be "absolutely foolish" to turn in on itself after two parliamentary candidates in two key swing seats - Jackie Porter in Winchester and Ros Kayes in West Dorset - called on Mr Clegg to go in the interests of the party's prospects at the general election.

The Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister is highly unlikely to heed their call in the time there is left before the general election. Nevertheless, he is a man who has paid with his own political credibility for a share of coalition power.

The truth is that the Lib Dems have never recovered from the fall-out from the about-turn over student tuition fees. Having signed a pledge to oppose an increase in fees, Mr Clegg ended up reneging on that promise and that his what he will be remembered for.

He can argue all day long about the compromises that have to be made amidst the circumstances created by coalition government, but voters don't like hypocritical politicians who stand for one thing in opposition and do another in power. It really is as simple as that.

The attraction of the Lib Dems was that they were the party of the protest vote but that has now been lost - at least for the foreseeable future - to Ukip.

Mr Farron wants party members "to be proud behind our leader". As president, he could not deliver any other message.

But the truth is that Nick Clegg - a man who shone most brightly in those far-off televised debates between the party leaders in the run-up to the last election - has been turned into a dead man walking by getting into bed with David Cameron.