Lib Dems hit new poll low as Rennard faces police probe

Independent survey finds party sinking to fourth after harassment claims

The Liberal Democrats have slumped to their lowest-ever poll rating in the wake of allegations that their former chief executive Lord Rennard sexually harassed female party activists.

For the first time in its monthly polls for The Independent, ComRes puts Nick Clegg's party in fourth place behind the UK Independence Party. The Liberal Democrats are on just eight per cent, down two points on last month, while Ukip is on nine per cent (down one point).

The survey, taken between Friday and Sunday when the Rennard controversy dominated the headlines, suggests it has damaged the Liberal Democrats. It is a setback for Mr Clegg in the run-up to Thursday's Eastleigh by-election caused by the resignation of Chris Huhne, the former minister who has admitted perverting the course of justice and awaits sentencing.

Scotland Yard tonight said it had launched an inquiry into allegations made against Lord Rennard. In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said it had been approached by party officials to investigate the claims that have surfaced about the peer in recent days. It added: "We are working with them to ascertain whether or not any criminal activity has taken place."

Senior Liberal Democrats had been confident of victory over their Conservative coalition partners but now admit privately that their prospects could be harmed by the party's handling of the allegations against Lord Rennard, which he denies.

According to ComRes, Labour has extended its seven-point lead last month to 12 points, its biggest since 2005 in a ComRes poll for this paper. Labour is now on 43 per cent and the Conservatives on 31 per cent (down one point). Other parties are on nine per cent (no change). The Tories' standing may have been damaged by the news on Friday evening that the ratings agency Moody's had downgraded the UK's triple-A credit rating.

If repeated on a uniform swing at a general election, these figures would give Labour an overall majority of 122. The Liberal Democrats would lose 39 seats, leaving them with just 18 MPs.

Only one in three people (33 per cent) who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 say they would do so now; 40 per cent of them would support Labour. Some 82 per cent of those who voted Tory at the last general election would back the party now, although eight per cent say they would switch to Ukip now. Labour has retained the support of 92 per cent of its 2010 voters.

A survey of 1,000 people in Eastleigh by the Daily Echo newspaper showed the Liberal Democrats and Tories neck-and-neck on 22 per cent, with Ukip in third place on 18 per cent and Labour trailing in fourth spot on 12 per cent. A further 22 per cent said they would not vote.

A poll published today by Lord Ashcroft, the former Tory deputy chairman, gives Mr Clegg's party a five-point lead in Eastleigh. The survey of 1,000 people puts the Liberal Democrats on 33 per cent, the Tories on 28 per cent, Ukip on 21 per cent and Labour on 12 per cent.

ComRes interviewed 1,005 GB adults by telephone between February 22-24. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. Data were also weighted by past vote recall. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

If repeated at a general election the figures would give Labour a majority of 122 seats

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe