Clegg looks to brighter future after tough year

Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg addresses the Lib Dem Annual Conference, at the ICC in Birmingham.
Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg addresses the Lib Dem Annual Conference, at the ICC in Birmingham.
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DEPUTY PM Nick Clegg has insisted the Liberal Democrats’ popularity will improve before the next General Election.

Despite relentlessly poor opinion poll ratings, which this week dived to 11 per cent, Mr Clegg has been determined to portray an upbeat and optimistic mindset at his party’s autumn conference in Birmingham.

The Sheffield Hallam MP said: “We’ve clearly suffered a short-term hit to our popularity. We’ve lost councillors, we’ve lost a referendum, we’ve lost support.

“But do I think that is going to continue to 2015? No, not at all.

“With the passage of time, more and more people recognise, firstly, it was right for us to enter coalition to provide stable government at a time when the British economy was skating on very thin ice and, secondly, that while in government we are not only repairing the economy but doing good things for young children, for a fairer tax system, to make sure our economy doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the past, and that we give real opportunity to everybody up and down the country.”

He added: “I just think it takes a bit of time for people first to get used to coalition and to recognise that we are trying to do good things just as there is a lot of bad news around.”

Mr Clegg also restated his determination to continue in his role beyond the next election after a report that his wife Miriam had secured a deal for him to step down after one term.

“I’m 44 years old, I’m absolutely committed to what I’m doing, I’ve got bags of energy, I’m here to see through this parliament,” he said.

“I certainly will be fighting the next election.”

Mr Clegg has used the conference to mark out the difference between his party and his Conservative allies, calling them ‘political enemies’.