POLITICS
05/02/2015 05:27 GMT | Updated 05/02/2015 05:59 GMT

Nick Clegg: Poll That Says I'll Lose My Seat Is 'Bilge'

Nick Clegg has dismissed as "bilge" a poll which suggested he is on track to lose his seat in the House of Commons at May's general election.

The Survation survey of more than 1,000 constituents on behalf of trade union Unite put Labour in a decisive lead in the Deputy Prime Minister's Sheffield Hallam seat, on 33% against just 23% for the Liberal Democrats.

If repeated in the May 7 election, this would represent a massive 30-point collapse in Lib Dem support since the 2010 general election, when Clegg romped home with a 53% share of the vote and one of the largest majorities in the House of Commons.

Beneficiaries of the swing away from Lib Dems, according to the Survation poll, were Labour (up 17 points, compared to 2010), the Greens (up 10 points on 12%) and Ukip (up seven points to 9%), while Conservative support was down two points to 22%. The poll will add weight to the argument of some Labour activists that the party should pursue a "decapitation" strategy and target Sheffield Hallam.

But Clegg told LBC radio: "This poll is such utter, utter bilge.

"Surprise, surprise, the trade union paymasters of the Labour Party have come out with a poll which shows the Labour Party is ahead.

"Unlike the Unite bosses that pay for the Labour candidates up and down the country, I actually am out and about knocking on doors in the streets of my wonderful constituency in the most beautiful part of the North - south-west Sheffield.

"I've been doing it for 10 years. It's one of the greatest privileges of my life.

"Of course there are some people - and I meet them - who say 'I hate the Tories so much, I'll never forgive you for going into coalition'. And of course I try to explain to them that no-one won the election, it was the only way we could form a stable government.

"Of course I'm not a Tory - far from it. The longer I've governed with them, the more I realise why I'm not. But if we hadn't formed that coalition we wouldn't have pulled the country back from the economic brink. It's my job, like any MP in any seat to explain why I want to carry on serving the community that I have done for the last 10 years."

The survey found that the quality of local NHS hospitals and GP services is the top local issue for Sheffield Hallam constituents (45%), followed by employment opportunities (15%) and education (12%). Some 64% of those questioned said they opposed the inclusion of the NHS in the proposed TTIP free trade deal between the EU and the US, according to the pollsters.

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