Safer than thought? Clegg expects to outperform expectations in May

Clegg: We’ll do better than people think

Clegg: We’ll do better than people think

The Liberal Democrats are going to outperform expectations in the May general election, Nick Clegg has insisted.

Speaking at his party's spring conference, the Liberal Democrat leader insisted predictions of the party being wiped out were exaggerated.

"I have a message for all those who are writing us off once again: the Liberal Democrats are here to stay," he said.

"I've heard the predictions. I've seen the polls. But let me tell you this: we will do so much better than anyone thinks.

"In those seats where we are out in force, making our case loudly and proudly, we are the ones making the weather."

Despite Clegg's comments, sources at the top of the party privately concede that the Lib Dems are unlikely to win any more than 30 seats – just over half its current tally.

The latest polling, conducted by Opinium for the Observer, puts the Lib Dems on seven per cent, with just 28% of people saying the party was right to go into coalition with the Conservatives.

The party has been keen to highlight private polling recently showing it was performing well above expectations, but analysts have been uncertain how credible the results are.

They found the party was narrowly ahead of Labour in Hornsey and Wood Green, Lynne Featherstone's seat. Polling by Lord Ashcroft found the Lib Dems trailing by 13 points in the seat.

Typically speaking, the Lib Dems are facing a tougher fight against Labour than against Conservatives.