Simon Hughes, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwarkand deputy leader of Liberal Democrats
“In our party there are a few who never thought it [coalition] was a good idea in the first place and some people who think we ought to go sooner rather than later. At the highest levels there is nobody who thinks [leaving is] the right thing to do.
“Yes we have paid the price. Both [coalition parties] paid the price earlier this year for the Tory decision to drop the top rate of tax. I think they understand that too now. Our job is to show that we don’t bottle it.
“Nothing can change the coalition agreement. I can’t imagine there won’t be proposals to add to it. As we speak there are people beavering away at just such proposals.
“There are members of the party that feel nervous. Success is difficult. There are a few who say we should never have joined the Tories. There may be some more.”
Susan Kramer, Liberal Democrat peer
“Most of us have enough sense to recognise we are now in coalition. So we recognise the need for compromise. A lot of us feel let down by the Conservatives over things like House of Lords reform.
“At the beginning of the coalition, every media question was can you tell us the date of the election—ie, the collapse is so close, when is it coming? So we wanted to make clear that the coalition can work. At the very start, we were at the point where the financial market was so fragile and that looks very different now. As time has gone on and everyone has gone past that, people have felt freeer to express differences.”
Chris Rennard, Liberal Democrat peer
“The Lib Dems must show the difference that they have made in government and also show what would have gone wrong with a majority Conservative or Labour government.
“Lib Dems are used to poor polling positions. The party has been through periods like this before. We do not have a proportional representation system and so numbers of seats do not tie in with the rise and fall of the national vote. So don’t panic.
“I don’t sense any possibility of the party splitting or something like that. The level of support for ending the coalition is negligible. People understand the electoral arithmetic and economic necessity; these make it a political necessity.
“The opposition is much more in the Tories—on the Tory right, who want Cameron to be more anti-gay, anti-immigrant. The Conservative party is divided on these issues.”