The senior Lib Dem peer who called for Nick Clegg to stand down is an attention seeker who failed to lift a finger to help during the Eastleigh by-election, according to former party leader Paddy Ashdown.
On Thursday, Lord Oakeshott, a close ally of Vince Cable and a former Treasury spokesman for the Lib Dems, said the party's poor poll ratings suggested Clegg should be replaced by Cable.
However speaking to The Huffington Post UK, Lord Ashdown said the comments from his colleague in the House of Lords were predictable.
"I saw a wonderful tweet today on the subject, which says 'in autumn the leaves fall, the swallows leave and Matthew Oakeshott flaps in squawking from cloud-cuckoo land'," he said.
Attacking Oakeshott's commitment to the party, or lack thereof, during the recent by-election campaign in Eastleigh, Ashdown observed: "He must have been the only party member who didn’t man the phones over Eastleigh."
"Matthew will say these things; it’s his way of getting a bit of attention to himself from time to time. He’s a formidable debater and a very smart guy in a one liner, but the best one liner I heard is the tweet."
In an interview with The House magazine ahead of this weekend's party conference, Oakeshott suggested the time had come for the party to ditch Clegg in order to win back votes. "We need to face facts, there’s quite a lot of complacency going on and self-delusion going on," he said.
He added: "Let's be objective; we have to accept that Nick's ratings are very poor and have been for a long time."
Lib Dem sources have also rejected Ashdown's claim that Oakeshott did not hit the phones during the Eastleigh by-election.
Oakeshott, a former Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, is a close personal friend of Cable and his words are often scrutinised to see if they convey a message from the business secretary.
Asked whether Cable needed to rein in Oakeshott, Ashdown said: "Vince will do what Vince wants to do, it's up to him decide. I think Matthew’s self appointed position as a sort of vicar on Earth for Vince does neither of them any good ... but that’s Vince’s problem."
Ashdown also noted Cable's comments last night in which the business secretary slapped down his ally. Cable said: "Matthew is an independent-minded member of the House of Lords, with his own views. He does not speak for me. His comments were seriously unhelpful."
Clegg, too, dismissed Oakeshott's criticisms of his leadership. The deputy prime minister told LBC radio on Friday morning: "He tends to always do so like clockwork at this time of year. When it's conference and the weather turns bad, up pops Matthew Oakeshott with some disobliging remarks about me,"
On Friday a YouGov poll published on the eve of the Lib Dem conference in Glasgow showed the party continued to trail behind Ukip, in fourth place in the polls - garnering just 8% of public support compared to 13% for Ukip.
Also on HuffPost:
Who can forget this classic? After being pelted with an egg Prescott doesn't think twice about clocking the perpetrator with a swift left hook. To be fair he deserved it just for the mullet, never mind the egg.
No surprise that these two would show up. In a relationship so tempestuous that it overshadows Axl Rose and Slash, Heather Mills and Paul McCartney and the time that Big Ears stole Noddy's bell, Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone are renowned for their heated confrontations. This year's London Mayoral election reached boiling point when Johnson accused Livingstone of being "a f**king liar!" How rude.
Don't let his warm smile, and werthers-original-offering-cuddly-Grandad looks fool you. Stephen Pound, MP for Ealing North, is nails. Well, you'd have to be to <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1277538/Labour-MP-Stephen-Pounds-foul-mouthed-football-rant.html">call Sol Campbell "a big f***ing fairy." In front of numerous children.</a>
John Bercow, (pictured) Speaker of the House of Commons, has numerous benefits that come with his position. A £68,000 salary, a river view apartment in Westminster and a rather dashing black silk gown. But perhaps the greatest privilege is the right to walk in a straight line through Parliament, unimpeded by MPs who have to graciously bow out of your way as you pass. Unless you are Mark Pritchard. When accused by Bercow of blocking his path Pritchard shot back "you are not f***ing royalty," before rather politely adding "Mr Speaker."
Not content with mere words and bypassing fisticuffs entirely, Eric Joyce upped the ante and went straight for hooligan's favourite method of violence, the headbutt. After one or two too many sherries Joyce flew into a rage in a packed Westminster bar, headbutting Tory MP for Pudsey Stuart Andrew and allegedly attacking three other people. The police were called and Joyce was arrested.
South London rag, News Shopper thought that it had come up with a rather lovely idea for a piece when it decided to ask local MPs what their summer holiday plans were. Reporter Dan Keel set about collecting said information and was met with plans of sun, sand and then this.... DAN: Hi it's Dan from the News Shopper newspaper. I was just wondering if you received my email about MP holidays? HOLLOWAY: Ah the online lynch mob. Why don't you get on with doing some proper journalism. DAN: So you won't be answering any of my questions? HOLLOWAY: Yeah I will answer them - I will be going to Hawaii for 69 days - now f*ck off
We are now briefly hopping over to Ireland to present two superbly presented expletives. Note the ever so polite and calm introduction of "the most unparliamentary language", the pure venom in his words and the slightly pigeon-esque head movements. Not to mention the apology and attempted retraction after.