In news that is sure to embolden the dissenters at the Liberal Democrat conference, a new poll reveals Nick Clegg to be the least popular party leader since Michael Foot.
While many people see Mr Clegg as likeable, few see him as strong, decisive or trustworthy. These are terrible figures for a man who says he will lead his party at the next election…
As I have brought consistently bleak news about Nick Clegg in recent months, let’s start with a glimpse of sunshine. His apology for messing up his party’s policy on student fees has gone down better than Gordon Brown’s apology in 2010 for describing a Rochdale voter as a bigot.
After Mr Brown discovered that his remark about Gillian Duffy had been caught on a microphone he wrongly thought was off, he dashed round to her house and told her how sorry he was. The next day we asked people about this apology. Just 26% said it was genuine, while 56% thought it was not. In our latest poll for the Sunday Times, we asked the same question about Mr Clegg’s apology. This time, 40% told us it was genuine, while 35% disagreed.
That is where the good news ends. 41% think his apology makes him look weaker, while just 21% think it makes him look stronger. Only 5% say his apology will make them more likely to vote Lib Dem at the next election, while 15% say it makes them less likely.
No wonder Lib Dem support is so low – just 8% in our post-apology poll – while Mr Clegg himself has slumped to his worst ever rating. Having risen briefly (after the first leaders’ debate on TV in April 2010) to become more popular than Churchill, he is now Britain’s least popular main-party leader since Michael Foot.
As the chart below illustrates, his leadership scores are particularly woeful:
With the runners and riders for a tilt at his crown sharpening their sandals in Brighton, in the wake of his widely derided apology vid, and with members giving him a rough ride, it looks more and more like Clegg’s political death spiral is terminal.