How low can you go?
If you are a politician of a party that traditionally has won around 20% of the votes cast in election after election, but with your voters sprinkled almost evenly across all the ridings, and you are given the chance to enter into a governing coalition with another party, but you do not negotiate for the one most important matter on the table, you can end up with negative support in your party.
Ask Deputy Prime Minister Clegg:
Nick Clegg has lost the confidence of Liberal Democrat members, a poll reveals for the first time today, as the Deputy Prime Minister attempts to persuade his party to stick with him for the "second half" of the coalition government.
A poll for Lib Dem Voice of paid-up party members, seen by The Independent on Sunday, shows that the Lib Dem leader's personal rating has fallen below zero for the first time, to minus 2 per cent.
The same poll put Mr Clegg on plus 13 per cent in August and plus 19 per cent in June. And an overwhelming majority – 79 per cent – of Lib Dem members think being in coalition will be bad for the party's election prospects in 2015.
Mr Clegg's aides were braced for difficult opinion poll results this weekend as the Lib Dem conference opened in Brighton yesterday, yet the Lib Dem Voice poll, the only one to survey the opinions of registered party members, will make particularly uncomfortable reading for the Deputy PM.
Clegg could have held out for the introduction of a modified proportional representation system of electing MPs, but settled for much less, and so doomed his party to virtual extinction in the next election in 2015.
The next leader of the Liberal Party should contemplate the choices open to Clegg, and to the LPC, and beware of falling into a similar trap.