1. ITV Report

Midlands' Lib Dems head to the seaside!

The Deputy Prime Minister will pledge to make coalition policies "fairer". Photo: PA

Liberal Democrat activists and supporters will make their way to Brighton today, in the hope that Nick Clegg's apology over tuition fees will have won them new backing.

The party's footprint in the Midlands is small. There are only two MPs in the region - Lorely Burt at Solihull, the newly appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Danny Alexander - Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and John Hemming at Birmingham Yardley. They believe they did the right thing for the country by entering into coalition with the Conservatives.

The theme to this year's conference is Fairer Tax in Tough Times. There will big mentions of the party's efforts to lower taxes for low income working families and the plan to raise more tax from those with unearned incomes.

Nick Clegg will tell the party in a speech tonight that he wants to "reward people who put in a proper shift, not those who sit on a fortune". He will also point to the two million families he says will have been lifted out of poverty by next April.

But the embattled leader, who has become a Youtube hit with the spoof musical version of his apology, will also make it plain he is well aware of the challenges ahead.

Many core voters will find it hard to forgive the Liberal Democrats for decisions and concessions made in government. In the Midlands, the mountain to climb is high. Unless fortunes are turned around it could become a Lib-Dem free zone in 2015.

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