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Steady as she goes - Nick Clegg's message to Midlands delegates on final day of Liberal Democrat Conference.

In his speech later Nick Clegg will say they are no longer a party of protest but a party of power Photo: PA

Against a backdrop of stormy skies at Brighton, Nick Clegg will get to his feet this afternoon and tell delegates of the tough road ahead as he leads his party into the second-half of coalition government with the Tories.

He will say they are no longer a party of protest but a party of power. He'll describe the Lib Dems as having played an essential role in keeping the government of the day on the centre ground.

He will aim to steady nerves and urge the party to stick to the deal with the Ck=onservatives to lay the foundations for a stronger economy.

As the row over the future of benefits for wealthy pensioners rumbles on - he will announce a 'catch up' premium of £500 for under-achieving children leaving primary school.

Education, he will argue, is the most important investment Britain can make in its young people.

How will his speech go down in the Midlands? Well, the next biggest test of the electorate's feeling will be in the Northamptonshire town of Corby.

A by-election is being held there in November following the resignation of the Conservative's Louise Mensch.

The Liberal Democrat candidate Jill Hope , a local business entrepreneur, laid out her Lib Dem credentials yesterday on the platform here at Brighton, arguing in favour of rehabilitating offenders.

It's Labour who have Corby firmly in their sights. Next week they will be laying out their stall at their annual party conferencein Manchester.

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