Lib Dem reality check: 59% of voters say party is worse now than in 2010

Pressure is growing on Vince Cable to shun his allies and support Nick Clegg on the economy

Nick Clegg has suffered a major blow as he prepares to put his leadership on the line today, with a poll revealing the deep unease about the direction of the Liberal Democrats among current and former supporters. More current Liberal Democrat supporters – those who would still vote for the party now –  believe the party has changed for the worse since the 2010 election (36 per cent) than think it has got better (20 per cent), according to a YouGov survey. 

The survey found that 59 per cent of all those who voted Liberal Democrat at the last election believe the party has got worse in the three years since, with only 9 per cent saying it has got better. The results show Mr Clegg has a mountain to climb as he tries to woo back former supporters who have deserted the party since it joined the Coalition.

In a crunch debate at his party’s conference in Glasgow today, Mr Clegg will make a personal appeal to delegates to stick with the Coalition’s economic strategy and reject calls to depart from the Government’s austerity plans. The left-of-centre Social Liberal Forum (SLF) wants the Coalition to adopt a new “fiscal mandate” and to order the Bank of England to do more to boost growth and jobs. Mr Clegg’s allies claim this amounts to a call for higher public spending.

But his internal critics have accused him of “picking a fight with his own party”, when a compromise on economic policy could have been reached. They claim that Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, who has close links with the SLF, wanted such a deal. Last night Mr Cable was under pressure to back Mr Clegg rather than his natural allies in the increasingly fractious debate. His aides said he supported Mr Clegg’s economic statement but that he believed it could be improved.

Insiders said the crucial vote that follows the debate could be close, but predicted that Mr Clegg would win over wavering delegates by turning it into a “loyalty test”.

Prateek Buch, the SLF’s director, said: “The motion has to go further than current Coalition policy as [we] approach the next election, to demonstrate we are an independent party.”

Mr Clegg on Sunday sought to reassure his critics by promising to set out his “red lines” for possible coalition talks should the 2015 election result in another hung parliament. He suggested that cuts in taxes for the low-paid and higher taxes for the rich would be key Liberal Democrat demands in any potential agreement.

The Deputy Prime Minister said it was too early to spell out the party’s “die in a trench” issues, but they are likely to include a commitment to lifting the personal tax allowance to £12,500, taking all workers on the minimum wage out of income tax. This would build on the party’s flagship promise at the last election to raise the threshold to £10,000, which many Liberal Democrats regard as their proudest achievement in government.

A new tax on the wealthiest people – probably through a “mansion tax” on the owners of £2m-plus properties – will be another central Liberal Democrat commitment. The party is also examining the idea of a tax on the value of land on which houses are built.

Mr Clegg told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “I strongly suspect, given that we have put so much effort and indeed  so much money into making the tax system fairer, tax fairness will of course be one of the signature tunes for the Liberal Democrats.”

He added: “In my view it is going to be more likely than not that in the future you’re going to get more coalitions. It is less likely that you’re going to get these slam-dunk results when one or the other of the two major parties always gets a majority.”

The YouGov poll, commissioned by the Labour Uncut blog, shows that a majority (53 per cent) of current Tory supporters believe their party has got better since the last election, with only 11 per cent saying it has got worse. Among Labour supporters, the figures are 46 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.

There is some good news in the survey for Mr Clegg. It found that Labour supporters are much more open to a Lib-Lab coalition that includes Mr Clegg than Ed Miliband appears to be. The Labour leader has said it would be difficult to reach a deal with the Liberal Democrats unless they change their leader.

Some 21 per cent of Labour supporters say the party should form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats even if Mr Clegg remains at the helm, while 33 per cent would back a deal only if he is replaced and 36 per cent want no deal with the Liberal Democrats no matter who leads the party. Eight-seven per cent of Labour supporters who want Mr Clegg replaced would allow him to stay on to form a government with Labour if the alternative was another Lib-Con coalition, while just 4 per cent of those people would rather see a repeat of the current Government than do any deal with Mr Clegg. This means that overall, 50 per cent of Labour supporters would back a Miliband-Clegg partnership to prevent another Con-Lib coalition, while 40 per cent would not.

YouGov interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,593 adults between 30 August and 4 September.

News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup