Nick Clegg will plead with Liberal Democrats to hold their nerve and accept "vitriol and abuse" as the price of proving to voters they have now become a serious party of government.

The Deputy Prime Minister will warn against a return to the comfort zone of being a party of opposition and set out his vision of the party's future beyond the 2015 general election.

His keynote conference address to activists in Brighton comes after a stormy week in which the party has suffered a backlash over plans to squeeze the rich and strip wealthy pensioners of state handouts.

Amid dire opinion poll ratings and rumblings about his leadership, Mr Clegg has attempted to play up his determination the well-off will bear the brunt of another round of spending cuts as the coalition struggles to balance the books.

His position was given a much-needed boost earlier in the week when the conference resoundingly rejected a call to tear up the Government's deficit reduction strategy.

And Mr Clegg will insist that the difficulties facing the party "will be worth it" if the economy begins to improve as it will propel the Liberal Democrats from being the UK's third party to "one of three parties of government".

"Be in no doubt. If we secure our country's future, we will secure our own," he will say - explicitly linking his party's future with the success of the power-sharing administration's efforts to turn around the economy.

Mr Clegg, who came into the conference on the back of making a public apology for an election pledge to oppose any rise in tuition fees which the party abandoned after taking power, will concede presiding over "some real disappointments".

But he will warn against the "alluring prospect" of swapping coalition Government for a return to the years of engaging in the politics of protest and opposition. "I know that there are some in the party - some in this hall even - who, faced with several more years of spending restraint, would rather turn back than press on. Break our deal with the Conservatives, give up on the coalition, and present ourselves to the electorate in 2015 as a party unchanged. It's an alluring prospect in some ways.

"Gone would be the difficult choices, the hard decisions, the necessary compromises. And gone too would be the vitriol and abuse, from right and left, as we work every day to keep this Government anchored in the centre ground. But conference, I tell you this. The choice between the party we were, and the party we are becoming, is a false one. The past is gone and it isn't coming back. There's a better, more meaningful future waiting for us. Not as the third party, but as one of three parties of government."

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  • The Liberal Democrats Continue With Their Annual Party Conference

    BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander delivers a speech promising a major crackdown on tax-dodgers, at the Liberal Democrat Conference on September 25, 2012 in Brighton, England. The fourth day of the conference also heard from Scottish Secretary Michael Moore. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • LibDem Annual Conference

    Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg during his visit the Ricardo UK Technical Centre in Shoreham-by-Sea ahead of Cable's speech to the Liberal Democrats' annual conference in Brighton.

  • LibDem Annual Conference

    Business Secretary Vince Cable and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg during their visit the Ricardo UK Technical Centre in Shoreham-by-Sea ahead of Cable's speech to the Liberal Democrats' annual conference in Brighton.

  • LibDem Annual Conference

    Mugs depicting Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg with the words ÒIÕm SorryÓ on at the Liberal Democrat Annual Conference in Brighton.

  • The Liberal Democrats Continue With Their Annual Party Conference

    BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: A badge (L) mocking Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell and celebrating party leader Nick Clegg's apology are worn at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference on September 25, 2012 in Brighton, England. The fourth day of the conference has heard speeches from Scottish Secretary Michael Moore and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • The Liberal Democrats Continue With Their Annual Party Conference

    BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: Party members listen to a policy motion at the Liberal Democrat conference on September 25, 2012 in Brighton, England. The fourth day of the conference also heard from Scottish Secretary Michael Moore and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • LibDem Annual Conference

    Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg watches as Business Secretary Vince Cable delivers his speech to the Liberal Democrats' annual conference in Brighton.

  • The Liberal Democrats Continue With Their Annual Party Conference

    BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: Party members listen to a policy motion at the Liberal Democrat conference on September 25, 2012 in Brighton, England. The fourth day of the conference also heard from Scottish Secretary Michael Moore and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Lib Dem Conference 2012

    Liberal Democrat MP Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, addresses the Liberal Democrat Annual Conference in Brighton, England, Tuesday Sept. 25, 2012. The Liberal Democrat party is in power as part of a coalition government with the Conservative party. (AP Photo / Gareth Fuller, PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES

  • LibDem Annual Conference

    Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg with his wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez during a visit to Brighton Aldridge Community Academy, Brighton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday September 25, 2012. Mr Clegg who is attending the Liberal Democrat Annual Conference in Brighton visited the academy where results have improved over the past two years with 41 percent of the pupils achieving five GCSEs in the August exam results. See PA LIBDEMS Stories.

  • LibDem Annual Conference

    Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg with his wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez during a visit to Brighton Aldridge Community Academy, Brighton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday September 25, 2012. Mr Clegg who is attending the Liberal Democrat Annual Conference in Brighton visited the academy where results have improved over the past two years with 41 percent of the pupils achieving five GCSEs in the August exam results. See PA LIBDEMS Stories.

  • LibDem Annual Conference

    Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, meets party supporter Dominic Sokalski for coffee at the Red Roaster Coffee Shop during the Liberal Democrat Annual Conference in Brighton.

  • LibDem Annual Conference

    Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, votes on issues during the Liberal Democrat Annual Conference in Brighton.

  • LibDem Annual Conference

    Willie Rennie, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, addresses the Liberal Democrat Annual Conference in Brighton.

  • LibDem Annual Conference

    Willie Rennie, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, addresses the Liberal Democrat Annual Conference in Brighton.

  • LibDem Annual Conference

    File photo dated 25/9/2012 of Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg with his wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez during a visit to Brighton Aldridge Community Academy, Brighton.

  • LibDem Annual Conference

    File photo dated 25/9/2012 of Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg with his wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez during a visit to Brighton Aldridge Community Academy, Brighton.