Focus on: half-time report

Support for the coalition government is at an all time low. Finbarr Bermingham explains why

No matter how they try to spin it, the composites of the coalition government are looking weaker than ever now. According to a YouGov poll, Labour holds a 13-point lead over the Conservatives, while the Liberal Democrats have been overtaken as the nation's third party by Ukip.

Large sections of voters have also been angered by policies forced through which weren't to the fore of the Conservatives' pre-election manifesto. The unpopular NHS reforms have been pursued despite opposition from almost everyone in the health sector. The education minister Michael Gove, too, has continued to push unmandated reform. It's been mooted that his academy creation project represents the first steps in privatising the education sector and, again, has faced down opposition from those directly impacted.

For Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats, this term was always going to be more difficult. It could be argued that being in government through a time of economic uncertainty like now is a poisoned chalice for any left-leaning party. But while the Lib Dems were always going to have to toe the joint-party line on some matters that pain grassroots members, many have come to view them as stooges, foolishly putting themselves in the firing line, getting very few concessions in return.

The main bugbear among Lib Dem voters will surely be the tuition fees debacle. Students provided the backbone of the Lib Dems electorate last time out after Clegg pledged to cap fees and increase spending in higher education. But when Clegg himself stood in parliament and lent his support to a bill that would see the cap in fees rise to £9,000, he was lampooned from all sides. Students filled the streets in protest and the Lib Dems' popularity has been on the wane ever since.

Perhaps the only areas in which the coalition has garnered widespread support has been foreign policy. The NATO air strikes on Libya helped give Cameron a boost in the polls, as did his dalliances with eurosceptics last year. But most of the headlines have been negative, with scandal after scandal plaguing this government - involving everything from pasties to horses. We asked three students for their views on the coalition's performance to date.

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