It’s ain’t easy being Nick Clegg. The coalition with the Conservatives has, barring a brief honeymoon, borne little but ill for his party. It now faces electoral oblivion due to a loss of much of its support to Labour. Now it seems the Liberal Democrat membership have had enough – half of the party’s rank and file want the leader to quit before the general election, which will take place in 2015, provided the coalition can keep going that long.
There’s now a major question as to whether it can. According to this morning’s exclusive in The Sun, the prime minister David Cameron has told his senior ministers that he fears Clegg’s position is so precarious he may be removed as leader by his party. “As he sees it, there may well be no Coalition if Clegg gets forced out so it’s vital he gets all the help he can,” a source told the newspaper.
Many think Clegg himself is to blame for his perilous position. Certainly a case can be made that his leadership has failed on the basis that he has only delivered for himself (the deputy premiership) without giving red meat to his party. Totemic Liberal Democrat goals of binning the first-past-the-post electoral system and the reform of the House of Lords have gone begging. Worryingly for Clegg, the Liberal Democrat’s annual conference in Brighton awaits. A pleasant week by the seaside seems unlikely.