UK & World News
Poll: Clegg Unpopular With Lib Dems
Nick Clegg has promised Liberal Democrats will "hold their nerve", as he arrived at his party conference after an exclusive poll for Sky News revealed his dire personal approval ratings.
As Lib Dem members gather in Brighton for the annual event, the results of the Ipsos/Mori poll commissioned by Sky show he has a negative rating of -43 among the party faithful.
Calculated by taking the number of people who say they are dissatisfied from those who say they are satisfied, this is far lower than David Cameron's -24 and Ed Miliband's -9.
But Mr Clegg was upbeat as he greeted Lib Dem supporters, while acknowledging the party had been through a bruising time.
"It is a tough time economically for the country and it has been a challenging time for the Liberal Democrats politically," he said.
"But I don't want anyone to be in any doubt: the Liberal Democrats are going to hold our nerve and see this through.
"We are halfway through a five-year journey and we are doing some very important things: rescuing and reforming and repairing the British economy; delivering fairer taxes in tough times and improving schools for children up and down the country.
"Those are things we are very proud of."
The new opinion poll also reveals that a substantial minority of Lib Dem supporters, 33%, want the coalition dissolved and a general election held immediately.
Worst of all, it found more than half - 51% - of Lib Dem supporters are dissatisfied with Mr Clegg's performance.
This compares to both other leaders, who have more than 50% approval among voters who support their parties.
The results were revealed after Mr Clegg issued an extraordinary mea culpa on breaking his pledge not to increase tuition fees in a video that has now sparked a series of internet spoofs.
There may be no direct threat to the current leader in Brighton but this could change before long if the Lib Dems continue to perform as poorly in local elections as they have done over the last two years.
Members have found the tuition fees U-turn is still a toxic issue as they campaign and Mr Clegg is desperate to suck the poison from it and focus on what he sees as Lib Dem successes in government.
One of those is the raising of the income tax threshold towards the Lib Dem target of £10,000.
The Lib Dems private polling reveals that they are seen by many as the party of fair taxes, so the slogan for this conference is "Fairer tax in tough times".
It is hardly a rallying cry at the barricades but the Lib Dem leadership believes it will remind people that they have had an effect in government, and that it has been benevolent.
They readily admit that part of their strategy between now and the next election due in 2015 will be to show the clear differences between the Lib Dems and their Conservative coalition partners while keeping the coalition going "in the national interest".
In an eve-of-conference interview with The House magazine, party president Tim Farron said he preferred a "confidence and supply" deal with one of the larger parties after 2015 rather than another coalition.
Despite being regarded as a potential future leader himself, he also backed Mr Clegg and said anyone considering a leadership challenge would be "reckless".
Two days of the conference will focus on the economy but priority will also be given to green policies and education. The issue of House of Lords reform will also rear its head once again.