IoS exclusive:

IoS exclusive: Liberal Democrat members lose faith in their leader

As the party conference begins, a poll shows Nick Clegg's personal rating has fallen below zero

Nick Clegg has lost the confidence of Liberal Democrat members, a poll reveals for the first time today, as the Deputy Prime Minister attempts to persuade his party to stick with him for the "second half" of the coalition government.

A poll for Lib Dem Voice of paid-up party members, seen by The Independent on Sunday, shows that the Lib Dem leader's personal rating has fallen below zero for the first time, to minus 2 per cent.

The same poll put Mr Clegg on plus 13 per cent in August and plus 19 per cent in June. And an overwhelming majority – 79 per cent – of Lib Dem members think being in coalition will be bad for the party's election prospects in 2015.

Mr Clegg's aides were braced for difficult opinion poll results this weekend as the Lib Dem conference opened in Brighton yesterday, yet the Lib Dem Voice poll, the only one to survey the opinions of registered party members, will make particularly uncomfortable reading for the Deputy PM.

The poll also confirmed the huge support among activists for Vince Cable, the Business Secretary. When members were asked to rate the performance of senior Lib Dems, Mr Cable received a net rating of plus 75 per cent, ahead of party president Tim Farron on plus 63 per cent, and way ahead of Mr Clegg on plus 4 per cent.

A separate ComRes poll for The IoS showed less support for Mr Cable in the wider public. Only 27 per cent said he would make a better leader of the party than Mr Clegg, compared with 25 per cent who disagreed. Yet 48 per cent of all voters see Mr Clegg as inexperienced and only 3 per cent think he is good in a crisis, the ComRes survey showed.

Mr Clegg received a further blow last night as his recently-departed director of strategy, Richard Reeves, claimed that the coalition had squeezed spending too tightly and been blind to the benefits of investing in the economy. The critique came as Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, announced a fresh attempt to pull in more revenue by putting anybody worth more than £1m under scrutiny from tax inspectors.

The Lib Dem leader used a party rally in Brighton last night to reaffirm his vows to members, who elected him leader five years ago this autumn. With November marking the halfway point in the coalition's five-year term, Mr Clegg told activists: "There were times in the first half when we as a party made errors. And we've learned some hard lessons.

"If there's one lesson we should take from the first half, it is that nothing comes easy. If we want a fairer Britain we have to fight for it. If we want fairer taxes we have to campaign for them. And if we want credit for what we are doing, then we have to go out there with our heads held high and tell people."

In an interview with The IoS, Lynne Featherstone, the international development minister, said Mr Clegg had been "naive" to pledge to block a rise in tuition fees before the election by "not perhaps conceiving of a coalition where we wouldn't be able to do exactly as we wanted".

The Lib Dem Voice poll shows that 53 per cent of members think Mr Clegg and other Lib Dem ministers are failing to achieve influence within the coalition, a huge increase from 31 per cent in June. But 74 per cent of Lib Dems still support the party's decision to work with the Conservatives and 67 per cent actively want it to last until 2015.

The majority of people surveyed by Lib Dem Voice were asked their opinions before Mr Clegg's tuition fees apology. Stephen Tall, co-editor of Lib Dem Voice, said: "We have to demonstrate to the public that Lib Dems are an asset within government, more caring than the Tories, more responsible than Labour. The challenge to Nick Clegg is to find a way to get that across in a way which voters – and his own members – will buy into."

Mr Cable has already won a key victory by getting proposals for a mansion tax placed centre stage. The conference agenda pledged only to introduce a wealth tax, but Lord Oakeshott, a former Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, tabled an amendment to "reaffirm the party's commitment to taxing high-value property as a form of wealth tax", and yesterday Mr Clegg expressed support for a mansion tax.

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
scienceTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
News
Ethical matters: pupils during a philosophy lesson
educationTaunton School's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...

Public Sector Audit - Bristol

£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal