Wednesday News Review

Lib Dem rating at all time low

Support for the Liberal Democrats has slumped to its lowest level since the party was formed in 1988, according to The Independent’s “poll of polls”. Nick Clegg is now the most unpopular third party leader since David Owen led the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1989. The Liberal Democrats’ 11 per cent rating in the first poll of polls since last May’s election highlights the dramatic slide in their fortunes since they entered the Coalition with the Conservatives. The 57 Liberal Democrat MPs would be reduced to a rump of just 15 at the next election if this level of support were to be repeated then. Labour is now on 40 per cent and the Tories on 38 per cent, giving Labour an overall majority of 14, according to the weighted average of the regular surveys by ComRes, ICM, Ipsos MORI and YouGov. John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, who compiled the figures, said that the costs and benefits of the Coalition had been distributed very unevenly between the two parties in it. “It is clear that the tone and direction of the Coalition Government has upset many people who voted Liberal Democrat in May, and before, while for the most part those who voted Conservative have been reasonably content with what has transpired,” he said. – Independent

Nick Clegg and Theresa May at war over control orders

Nick Clegg has yet to strike a deal with the increasingly determined home secretary, Theresa May, over how to replace control orders or allow suspected terrorists to be detained for more than 14 days without charge in exceptional circumstances.

Faced by growing calls from senior former cabinet members to retain control orders, it appears that the Liberal Democrat leader is willing to seek a compromise, and will recognise that some form of replacement to control orders is necessary – even though in opposition he called for their outright abolition… Clegg is facing a fraught battle to balance the needs of civil liberties and national security, as well as prevent a public falling out between two distinguished Liberal Democrats peers: Lord Carlile, the government reviewer of terrorism until last week, and Lord Macdonald, the man appointed at the insistence of Clegg to monitor the terrorism review. – Guardian

DAVID Cameron is to hold crisis talks with Nick Clegg amid signs the row over control orders is threatening to shatter the fragile coalition. Mr Clegg wants the measures, which force terrorist suspects to observe a curfew and wear a tag, to be scrapped. But he is locked in a bitter row with Home Secretary Theresa May. Mr Cameron has called an urgent meeting ahead of next week’s Cabinet. No?10 hinted he was unwilling to give any ground, saying UK security was above party politics. – The Mirror

Lib Dems crumble in Oldham

The Liberal Democrats will not win the Oldham by-election next week. The Tories might, though. They were around 2000 down in May and I don’t perceive that their support has fallen by a great deal. Remember, this is one of the few parts of the country where a sizeable group of people define themselves as “Liberal”.  From the times I’ve been on the doorstep in Oldham (it’s not often), it is these “Liberals” who most feel the betrayal. They’re turning on Clegg. Many will stay at home. Some will vote Labour. A smaller group will go Tory. A Tory win is the only thing that all three party leaders don’t want. It would be comical if the consequences weren’t so serious. If we lose (and if we don’t turn out our natural supporters on a cold day in January, we will), Ed Miliband will be in the firing line of the anonymous (though we all know who they are) briefers near to the shadow cabinet. Yet defeat causes greater problems for the government. The Lib Dems need this seat to remain credible. If their coalition partners win, it will be a catastrophe for Clegg and, therefore, an irritation for Cameron. – Tom Watson, Labour Uncut

David Cameron and Nick Clegg will use the Oldham East by-election to quash claims the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are planning a permanent merger. The Deputy Prime Minister will claim the by-election is a two horse race between the Liberal Democrats and Labour when he visits the constituency later today. He will also tell a town hall meeting that his party will run in every seat in 2015, instead of forming any electoral pact with the Conservatives. David Cameron is expected to visit later in the week, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. – PoliticsHome

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