Nick Clegg suffers further popularity slump among Liberal Democrat members

Poll found half of members are dissatisfied with performance as leader, while Vince Cable is their favourite of the party's ministers

Nick Clegg’s ratings amongst Liberal Democrat activists have slumped as some party members question whether he should stand down as their leader before the next general election.

After the Lib Dems’ victory in last month’s Eastleigh by-election, Clegg allies said he was certain to lead his party into and beyond the 2015 poll. But some grassroots activists want to install a new leader, such as Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, before the election.

A survey of 650 party members by the Lib Dem Voice website found that 50 per cent are dissatisfied with Mr Clegg’s performance as party leader, a rise of nine points since December. The proportion satisfied is 48 per cent, 10 points down on December.

When party members were asked to rate Lib Dem ministers,  Mr Clegg surprisingly came in the bottom five. Some 46 per cent are satisfied with his performance as Deputy Prime Minister, while 44 per cent are dissatisfied, a net rating of plus 2 points.

However, 78 per cent of  Lib Dem activists support the coalition with the Conservatives, while only 18 per cent oppose it.

Naomi Smith, co-chair of the Social Liberal Forum pressure group, said: “The results will make difficult reading for the Deputy Prime Minister. The party faithful have delivered a clear message – they continue to support the Coalition Government but not under the current Lib Dem leadership.” She believed Mr Clegg’s rating would have been even lower if the poll had been taken after his “deeply unpopular” speech on immigration last Friday.

Clegg allies hit back. A senior Lib Dem source said: “The stunning victory in the Eastleigh by-election vindicated Nick’s political strategy that the Lib Dems can both be in government and win. The survey clearly demonstrates continued widespread support among Lib Dems to both being in coalition and the overall direction of the party. Despite what our opponents would want, our party remains united behind his message – building a stronger economy and a fairer society enabling everyone to get on in life.”

Mr Cable tops the Lib Dems’ popularity chart. Some 80 per cent of members are satisfied with his work as Business Secretary, while only 10 per cent are dissatisfied, a net rating of plus 70 points. The finding suggests Mr Cable would be the strong front-runner to succeed Mr Clegg if he stands down before the election, as a new leader would be chosen in a ballot of members.

Others in the top five are Lynne Featherstone, the International Development Minister; Steve Webb, the Pensions Minister; Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary and Michael Moore, the Scotland Secretary. Others joining Mr Clegg in the bottom five are Jeremy Browne, the Home Office Minister; David Laws, the Schools Minister; Lord McNally, the Justice Minister and Baroness Randerson, a minister at the Wales Office.

Clegg allies pointed out that the survey was taken soon after the party’s spring conference voted against the Government’s plans to allow civil courts to take some evidence in secret. Mr Clegg’s handling of the issue has faced grassroots criticism.

Activists suggested the survey may reflect recent controversies such as the allegations that Lord Rennard, the party’s former chief executive, sexually harassed women activists, which he denies.

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
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 5
film
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
  • 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: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss