Liberal Democrat conference: Nick Clegg 'in relatively good shape'

Nick Clegg Only 24% in a new poll find the Lib Dems 'credible' in government

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In aftermath of the Lib Dems terrible local election results and the spectacular loss of the AV referendum (remember that?) in May, the party's annual conference, which has just opened in Birmingham, could have had the makings of a lynch mob for Nick Clegg.

But matters did not go from bad to worse for him during the summer and he has arrived here in relatively good shape. His position, for now, is secure.

But his poll ratings are dire. Only 24% in a new poll find the Lib Dems 'credible' in government. Only one in five think Mr Clegg a good leader.

The great concern in Birmingham is that the the Lib Dems have been irretrievably tainted by association with the Tories.

So the plan is to distance themselves. Hence bash a Tory is the conference's most popular sport.

Whether it reestablishes the Lib Dems is another matter. Voters might wonder why, if you hate the Tories that much, you're in coalition with them.

'Never prepared'

At heart, the Lib Dem activists simply don't like being in alliance with the Tories.

They might buy, reluctantly, that they had to form a coalition in the national interest.

But at conferences in years gone by the party leadership never prepared the the party for ever being in bed with the Tories.

Indeed, they regularly placed the party to the left of New Leader, making any arrangement with the Tories incredible.

But it's happened and as a result, despite the consolations of power, this conference is not a very happy place.

Andrew Neil is presenting the Politics Show and Daily Politics , plus The Andrew Neil Interview and Today at Conference from the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Bit of a massive generalisation isn't it 2 - nautonier?
    '- with many of labour members partly also dependent on the welfare state' rather like saying that the Tories have an unfair electorial advantage because they are supported by the rich. Both the Tories and LibDems have failed to remember that neither actually WON the election outright, despite the Tories expecting a landslide!

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    The recent Scottish elections are an indicator on what is in store for the LibDems - they lost two-thirds of their MSPs and their front bench is now a large armchair. If this carries through to the UK elections then the Libdems will lose over half their MPs, Labour will lose about 5 percent and the Tories will have a majority.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    cont.. 27

    If (when?) Scotland becomes independent then the Labour party loses about 59 MPs (there is only a handful of Libdems and 1 token Tory MP in Scotland)
    It also means that UK income decreases as Scotland puts more revenue into the UK .than it gets back in the block grant.
    Will the Tories think that an independent Scotland is worth the elimination of 59 Labour MPs ?.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    rhymer Scottish independence will mean no more free education for Scottish children which has been paid for by the Welsh and English tax payers. I wonder how that will go down. Also Scotland don't have exclusive rights to the North Sea so I am not sure the bloated toad Alex Salmond has a leg to stand on.
    If the Scots want independence then that's fine by me. They need us more than we need them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    32 Beshocked
    I bet you still believe that the earth is flat too.
    (are you a daily mail reader perchance ?)

    Since Scotland sends more in revenues and taxes to the UK treasury than it gets back it is a "rump" UK that will get less.

    And no, there are other countries besides Scotland (Norway for instance) who also have oil in their territorial waters.


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