The Liberal Democrats may have to consider ditching Nick Clegg as party leader and severing ties with the Conservatives before the next general election to avoid a "disastrous" result, a party peer has suggested.
Speaking ahead of the Liberal Democrat conference, Lord Oakeshott said Mr Clegg's personal approval ratings were "very poor", suggesting the party would have to think about whether its chances would improve under a new leader.
"Let's be objective; we have to accept that Nick's ratings are very poor and have been for a long time. You've got to be frank that his ratings are down at levels which if you go back were only seen by Mrs Thatcher shortly before she left and Michael Foot."
Highlighting newspaper polls last summer showing the party would do about 3% or 4% better under another leader he added: "These are things people have to think about given how sensitive the number of our seats will be. It's for the party to decide."
The peer went on to urge the Liberal Democrats to disengage from the Tories to enable them to develop their own "clear and distinctive" message in time for the next election.
The Liberal Democrat peer and former Treasury minister, Lord Oakeshott, has attacked the House of Lords in the wake of the cash for questions allegations:
I regard it a little like eradicating malaria from Africa. You use a bit of disinfectant on the mosquito, which this statutory register [of lobbyists] would be, but you've got to clean out the stinking swamp which is particularly the House of Lords where there is a very nasty whiff of dirty money the whole time.
A senior Liberal Democrat peer has indicated that the party must oust leader Nick Clegg if it wants to avoid electoral disaster in 2015.
Former Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Lord Oakeshott told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that they had lost "over half our market share".
"If you like to put it that way if we had been Sainsburys, since the election and any business that had done that would be looking very hard now at both its strategy and its management to see how we get some of that back."
"Otherwise we are going to lose a large number of seats at the next election", Lord Oakeshott said.