THE Lib Dems’ finances have taken a heavy hit from the loss of deposits after their humiliating general election defeat left them with just eight parliamentary seats and triggered the resignation of leader Nick Clegg.
The crushing Tory victory forced the deputy prime minister to quit the party leadership, although he retained his Sheffield Hallam seat.
To add insult to injury, the party is out of pocket to the tune of £170,000 after 335 candidates who took less than 5 per cent of the votes cast forfeited their £500 deposit.
Forty-nine seats that gave them a chance to form a Conservative-led coalition in 2010 were snatched away, leaving just a scattering of Lib Dem constituencies across the country.
The former deputy prime minister — who was strongly criticised for his U-turn decision on trebling tuition fees — looked crestfallen and exhausted while making a resignation speech.
He said: “Clearly, the results have been immeasurably more crushing and unkind than I ever could have feared.
“For that, of course, I must take responsibility and I will be resigning as leader of the Liberal Democrats.”
Lib Dem former business secretary Vince Cable was defeated by Tory challenger Tania Mathias by 25,580 votes to 23,563 in Twickenham, which he had held since 1997.
He was heavily criticised for his bargain-bin sell-off of Royal Mail and short-changing taxpayers of up to £1.2bn by pricing shares too cheaply.
A Communication Workers Union (CWU) spokesman said: “The Lib Dems have been punished for going into coalition with the Tories.“Their credibility was badly damaged by trebling — instead of scrapping — university tuition fees.
“As the main architects of Royal Mail privatisation, they were unpopular with many CWU members.”
Other Lib Dem Cabinet members turfed out of Parliament included former justice minister Simon Hughes and chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.