The Liberal Democrats will announce their new leader later on today, in what has been a roller coaster six week campaign.

Votes from the party’s 73,000 members will be counted today in a choice between Simon Hughes, Sir Menzies Campbell and Chris Huhne.

All three insist they can win the contest which began in January when former leader Charles Kennedy resigned. Another past head of the party, Paddy Ashdown, spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about the candidates.

He said: “The three candidates have great gifts. Chris Huhne is the brightest of the new cohort.” Sir Menzies had “great experience”, while Mr Hughes was a “great campaigner”.

The three politicians have all individually been ahead at various stages of the race.

Last month a PinkNews.co.uk study revealed that despite claims of hypocrisy from gay rights groups, almost 80% of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community would prefer Simon Hughes as Liberal Democrat leader.

Mr Hughes, 54, admitted to being bisexual at the end of January amid accusations of lies over his sexuality.

Counting begins at 10:00 GMT. The winner will be announced by Lord Dholakia, the Lib Dems’ deputy leader in the Lords.